The best traditional dishes and food of Nepal
Nepal is a beautiful country situated between China and India and is home to the world-famous Himalayas. This country has a lot to offer to any kind of traveler, whether you are adrenaline junkie or just looking for a relaxing peaceful vacation. If you are planning a trip to Nepal make sure to try all the delicious dishes and food of this country.
Just keep in mind that generally, the food is pretty spicy here. Therefore if you are not used to eating such food, make sure to ask for non-spicy option when making an order.
Guest Blogger: Yana Maximova, Aware Impact
Nepal is an ethnically and culturally diverse country. Because of this diversity, there is an impressive array of local cuisine. India, Tibet, and China have strongly influenced Nepalese cuisine. Very often people confuse Nepali food with Indian. While they definitely do share some similarities, each cuisine is unique in its own way. It's not an easy task to establish a group of dishes which is distinctly Nepalese. However, some of them are specifically popular across the country. You should be able to find them in almost any restaurant. Do try the following dishes and food when visiting the culturally diverse Nepal.
Dal Bhat is the National Dish of Nepal
If we have to choose a National dish of Nepal then Dal Bhat definitely deserves to become one. The basic ingredients are rice (bhat) and lentil soup (dal). Many Nepalese across the country eat dal bhat twice a day. There are many different versions of this meal, but the most popular is dal bhat tarkari which also comes with vegetable curry (tarkari). Sides can include pickles, curried dishes, meat or fish, and yogurt. Very often you can have roti (unleavened bread) instead of rice. The variations of this dish are countless. Do try at least one of them in order to get an authentic taste of Nepalese cuisine.
Momo is Nepal’s version of dumplings and usually filled with vegetables or meat (chicken, pork, buff). On the side, you get one or two sauces for dipping, some of which can be quite spicy and often contain raw chili and garlic. In some places, you can find pretty interesting variations of momo, with cheese, paneer or potato filling. There are several ways to cook momos. It can be steamed, fried or come in a soup. Be aware of "C"-momo, which is fried momos in a very spicy soup. It's one of my favorites, though I cry every time I eat it. Momo is a very popular dish in almost every corner of Nepal. It is a must-try food item of Nepalese cuisine once you are here.
Thukpa is a hot noodle soup with vegetables or meat. This dish is popular in Kathmandu and other mountainous regions of Nepal. Best to eat it during the colder months as it's a very warming and comforting dish. Thukpa means ‘noodle’ in Tibetan. This dish takes influence from both Tibet and China. Thukpa is particularly popular across Nepal and Tibet but the Nepalese version is sometimes spicier. This makes it more popular than its Tibetan counterpart. Personally, I really prefer thukpa in the villages to the one in the cities. I guess this is because in the villages you mostly get homemade food, which is always delicious, as Nepalese are incredible cooks. Food cooked with love tastes better.
Nepal has many indigenous groups and the Newari are the people local to the Kathmandu valley. Their cuisine is famous for over 200 dishes. Newari people prepare different kinds of food for different occasions, considering the climate and nutritional needs of the body.
Newars are renowned for their lavish feasting. Dishes served during festivals always have a symbolic significance. Some of the most popular and delicious dishes are aloo tama, samay baji and chatamari. Aloo Tama is a curry soup which is a must-try. Aloo means “Potato” and Tama means the “Bamboo Shoots”. It possesses the unique type of sour taste and can be quite spicy. Very often beans and buff meat gives the extra taste to it. This curry is very famous. You can taste the best Aloo Tama in Newari restaurants. Chatamari is a rice crepe topped with minced meat, egg and seasoned with vegetables. Nepalese eat it as a snack and it has become popular among other cultures, too. Many restaurants in Kathmandu serve chatamari as an appetizer. There are small eateries that serve this dish as the main item on their menu. Frequently foreigners refer to chatamari as Newari Pizza.
Samay Baji is mostly served during auspicious occasion, in family get-together and Newari Festivals. But nowadays you can find it in every restaurant that serves Newari food. It consists of many items on a single plate. Among them are beaten rice, bara, meat, fried or boiled egg, black soybeans, spicy potato salad, boiled beans mixed with spices, cooked spinach.
Best to have samay bajo with the local alcoholic drink Chang (millet or rice wine). Its sour taste helps to cool down the heat in your mouth from the spiciness of the food. Samay baji and chang is my favourite combination.
I do believe that you should try local food in order to understand the culture of the country you visit. The food and dishes of Nepal are as rich in flavor and options as their culture. It may take time to get used to the spices, but after that, you'll fall in love with Nepali food.
Guest Blogger Yana Maximova show her readers how sustainable and responsible travelling isn't only the travelling part but also teaching them to be living a more responsible life; using less plastic, to respect and love Nature, Wildlife and Local Communities. Follow Aware Impact and visit her Instagram!