KATHMANDU, Aug 28: Life during this pandemic has been too long and time too ample for many. Things have come to a sudden halt for many. For others, time falls short amidst busy and active schedules. While many have lost their jobs, some have taken time to discover their interests, and have even started working on their new ventures.
A story of a house in Barmeli Tole, Bhairahawa inspires us all. At ten in the morning, every day of every week, Kalpana Bhattarai finishes her work and then starts assembling her rough and ready outdoor kitchen. Every day, she along with two other helpers, set out to make a variety of authentic Nepali-Burmese food, which include a variety of pickles, including fish, chicken, soya chunk, long green chili, red cherry pepper, bamboo shoot, mixed pickle and many others. The pickles mostly get sold by the end of the day.
“Even before I finish preparing the items, people come to buy them,” says Bhattarai. She is happy that her business is doing well even during this pandemic.
Balachau, a Burmese-style shrimp or prawn pickle, is the most popular one among her loyal customers. Soya chunk pickle also has a good demand, especially among her vegetarian customers. Gharelu Achar is a known name in Bhairahawa-Butwal area.
“One can’t tell a difference between the Burmese and Nepali flavor of the pickles but they’re definitely not of the same taste. You have to eat and find out yourself,” says Bhattarai.
Bhattarai was introduced to the Burmese food culture by her mother-in-law, as both her in-laws have Burmese lineages. She developed a passion for new flavors.
She has been making the pickles for the last 20 years. It has now become a part of her daily routine. She says that she gets profound joy and independence in this job. Along with her duties as her house manager, she contributed in educating and raising two children. They are both married.
She used to sell the pickles for 100 rupees per packet some 20 years ago, and it's now 250-300 rupees per packet. A minimum of 25-30 jars of pickles are sold everyday. She is now getting orders from Kathmandu, and even the NRNs, but due to lack of logistics, her supply has been limited to Bhairahawa- Butwal and nearby areas only.
To meet the growing demand, she is looking to register under a small-scale industry so that she can properly lead and commercialize her products.
For now, Bhattarai is busy supplying the Burmese-Nepali pickle varieties to customers in Bhairahawa-Butwal area.