Barkha Daily first came to the United States to attend Lakeland
College in Sheboygan, she had plans to become a criminal profiler or
psychologist. Instead, she ended up majoring in marketing, then earned
her MBA from Alverno College, and she worked in international business
for several years. But then, she and her husband, Jesse Daily, moved
to Thiensville and got involved in the Thiensville Farmers Market.
Whenever she promoted the market at events around town, she made food
using ingredients from the local market, and people asked her where
her restaurant was. That led to the couple opening the areaís first
Nepalese restaurant, The Cheel, in downtown Thiensville last year.
Over plates of roasted cauliflower and braised wild boar, Barkha sat
down with M Magazine to talk about her incredible journey.
your first anniversary as a restaurant, are you surprised by the
response youíve had from customers?
didnít know how we would be received, and we took a chance, but itís
been so popular. Iíve had people come here and say, ĎI felt like Iíve
lived without flavor until I ate here.í We get customers who come
form Chicago every two weeks to eat here, and weíve also gotten a
lot of customers from Sheboygan, Madison, Elkhart Lake."
M: While The
Cheel is a Nepalese restaurant, itís not like other Nepalese
restaurants you might find elsewhere. Tell us more about that.
BD: "My mom
grew up in Nepal, and my dad grew up in Burma. So in the same
household, we combined flavors, and without my dadís mix of cooking
ó Malay, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese flavors ó I would not have
this base of knowledge. The cooking here is Nepalese, but itís my
familyís recipes, which use complex flavors."
M: Do you have
any favorite food memories?
remember going fishing with my grandpa and then pan-frying the fish
right after we caught it. I remember cooking in a clay stove and using
actual firewood. Coming from that background and also utilizing modern
equipment, I cook by seeing, feeling and touching."
M: Are there any
misconceptions about Nepalese food?
donít understand curry. When they think of curry, they think of a
prepared spice blend. My mom taught me that thereís a different
curry for different vegetables, thereís a different curry for
chicken and for fish, for pork, lamb and beef. Depending on what
protein and vegetable you use, the curry will have a different spice
blend. You need to use different mixes of spices."
M: What are some
of the new things you want to introduce in your restaurant?
BD: "We are
putting Nepalese samosas on the menu, and weíre putting goat (which
is a special) on the menu. I want to bring in chayote squash and the
jackfruit dish I make at home. Okra has been another thing I want to
bring in. I make okra fries, but without breading, and theyíre
lightly seasoned and pan-fried. But the yield is so little and thereís
so much cutting. I need to figure out a way to do that."
M: What are the
tools you cannot live without?
BD: "Oh, a
pressure cooker because you can cook anything, and the efficiency is
there. I also love cooking with real fire. I hate gas. I like to be
able to control the flame."