So. After a long and hard-fought campaign, you have deservedly made it through to the finals of Miss World. You have posed winsomely with sick children and injured pets; you have gushed breathlessly about kindness and the importance of helping old people across the road; you have even mastered the art of walking in heels, wearing a bikini, and holding your stomach in for periods upwards of thirty minutes. There is just one more hurdle to clear; a nice chat on camera. "So, my dear, what do you most desire in life?"
Oh, such a tricky one. World peace? A cure for cancer? An end to injustice and inequality?
I fear this may be why I have never won Miss World. For often, what I desire more than anything else, more than anything in the whole world, is a nice dish of Makhan Chara as made by either The Great Kathmandu or its sister restaurant Nemaste Nepal.
These two mighty restaurants are found in Burton Road in West Didsbury, just waiting to prey upon people who have been to Oktoberfest at Silver Apples and have not eaten since 11am, and are therefore weak. I found myself in this helpless position last night; two beers at Oktoberfest, another outside Folk with the estimable Didsbury Life, and my resolve was non-existent. And since my husband flatly refuses to even entertain the idea of Great Kathmandu since a waiter once spilt oil down the back of his shirt and then denied all knowledge of it, Nemaste Nepal it was.
I'm a bit worried that Nemaste Nepal appears to be up for sale; I've always preferred this much larger, calmer restaurant over its rather casual brother just up the road (hey, maybe service will be good tonight; maybe we'll just ignore you...who knows?) but it WAS very quiet, far too quiet for a Friday night. I can only think that most people were at home watching the Ultimate Big Brother final, although it makes me sad to think this.
However, the food was as good as ever. Makhan Chara is a dish I occasionally actually dream about eating; you can buy it at other restaurants but it's always disappointing - the only other place that even comes close to getting it right is The Third Eye on Wilmslow Road in Didsbury, and even there it lacks something. This makes me worry that Nemaste Nepal are simply putting some kind of highly addictive ingredient into theirs; I can't think why else I would hanker after a dish that appears to be made entirely from tomatoes and cream - I don't even LIKE cream. Yet there's something about this unctious concoction that makes me forget that every mouthful contains enough calories to support a third-world country for a week, and that this is unlikely to be negated by simply walking home rather than taxiing (still, ever hopeful.)
I hate to admit that I couldn't finish it all last night; and it shames me even more to admit that if I'd brought it home in a doggy-bag, I'd be eating it cold right now. I think the Miss World crown might just elude me for another year at least.
- Nemaste Nepal is at 164-166 Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester M20 1LH; tel. 0161 445 9060.