Almost nine years ago, Jeetan Khadka came to Burlington as a Nepali refugee and worked jobs at Spectrum Youth & Family Services and Burlington Parks & Recreation. But when his uncle, Tika Ghimire, arrived years later, Khadka's longtime desire to cook was reawakened. "My uncle has been a chef for almost 40 years," says Khadka. "I've always done lots of cooking. I also have skills in social marketing. So we thought, Why not give [the restaurant] a try?"
Earlier this month, the duo opened Nepali Kitchen at 10 Railroad Avenue in Essex Junction. The menu offers street foods and family-table staples blending Nepali and Indian cuisine, with a bit of influence from Bhutan, where both men were born before moving to Nepal. Momos are handmade each morning and served with homemade achar sauce. There's housemade saag paneer cooked with spinach and curry masala, biryani, and Khadka's go-to: slowly simmered dal with a side of spiced pickles. Gundruk Thali is a Nepali-style fermented leaf soup, while Ema Datshi is a Bhutanese stew simmered with fresh chilies and cheese. Drinks include housemade masala chai and mango lassi.
"I love to work with my uncle," says Khadka. "We work 15 hours a day, six days a week, and it feels like working from home. The family is together."
Correction, October 13, 2016: An earlier version of this story misspelled Tika Ghimire's name.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Family Matters"