09 Dec 2017
4 min read
Yomaris are Newari delicacies made of rice-flour wraps stuffed with molasses or khuwa (traditionally) that are steamed in large batches. Some are offered to the Gods and consumed as prasads for four days after being made, some are shared with neighbours and friends, and the rest are consumed at home. Years ago, yomaris would be prepared occasionally: to celebrate Yomari Punhi and on birthdays. That certainly made this divine Newari grub hard to find on other days, but what really made them a rare inclusion on the Newari restaurant menus had to do with one of the main ingredients--rice flour. Only high-quality rice makes flawless yomaris, and we all know that donít come cheap. Which is why, you may visit the most Newari of all Newari joints and still not find yomaris.
While the high cost of production combined with the time and skill it takes for the preparation previously kept many from serving hot, steamy yomaris at their eateries, these days a few eateries have popped up that have surprisingly turned yomaris into their niche.
In a bid to find one of those eateries, I ended up at Swotha. On the way past the Bhimsen temple and Coffee, Tea & Me, behind a small temple that's being reconstructed lies Nandini Food Court, almost camouflaged among a small cluster of cafes and eateries. But despite being hard to spot, this place, as you'll discover once you walk in, is a pit stop for tourists and locals alike who wish to indulge in some authentic Newari food in a clean, alcohol-free setting.
They have a wide range of traditional Newari foodófrom chatamaris and baras to choilas and sekuwasóand everything in between neatly arranged on the counter table. The kitchen and seating areas are cosy and hygienically maintained and the bright walls are decorated with art and craft pieces.
Their menu has two varieties of yomaris, one stuffed with molasses and the other with khuwa, each going for Rs 50. The order does take some time, but all yomaris here have to be freshly cooked and devoured when still hot as the rice wrapping on the outside tends to harden and lose its taste. So, they're always cooked to order, and that means guests will have to wait a while. However, that extra bit of patience is worth it as the yomaris come out steaming and glistening in taparis--traditional leaf-bowls--with crushed tomato-sesame pickle.
Soft and hot, the yomaris are conical, tapering at one end, with a huge bulge in the middle, and sealed on the other end with a pinched tail. The one with the molasses is undoubtedly everyone's favourite here. Before being ensconced inside the rice-flour wrapping, the molasses or chaaku stuffing is heated and mixed with powdered coconut and sesame for that unmistakable slightly bitter but largely sweet taste. As for the one with khuwa, it comes off as creamier, milkier and less sweeter than the former, but sweet nonetheless.
Technically, yomaris are desserts as making them involves steam-baking, wrap-making and sweetening. The sweet liquid molasses can also be regarded as confections. But considering the way they are made, with the stuffing and all, they might very well be considered dumplings of a sweet variety. However you categorise them, they are still a rare food, if not downright exotic.Luckily for us, a few eateries like Nandini Food Court have them on their daily menu so that your next random yomari craving need not go unfulfilled. The eatery should be particularly useful to you if you missed out on this year's batch of festive yomaris this past Sunday.
Rs 50 each
Nandini Food Court
On the left, when you are making your way to Swotha from Patan Durbar Square