Nepal is a land of culinary delight. From aromatic spices to devilish ghee, bounty of protein (fresh local poultry, mountain goat, rainbow trout, black pig, wild boar) to the freshest hand picked veggies, local freshly roasted coffee to home-fermented local tongba, dal-bhat power to steaming plates of momos, Nepali cuisine is as diverse as its cultural landscape.
So, what are the Top 10 foods of Nepal that guarantee a sensory explosion?
Oh Momos! Words fail to express the joy of biting into a plate of these delicious, juicy, bite-sized pocket of tender meat wrapped in a soft doughy wrap. Dip them in the tomato achar and eat it while steaming hot.
Thakali people are indigenous people from Mustang and their take on Dal-Bhat makes for an epic belly-busting experience. If in town, look up an authentic Thakali Bhancha Ghar for the best Nepali Thali of your life. Oh did we mention, free top-ups!
Newari Khaja Set
One of the benefits of being in the capital, is the exquisite Newari food it has to offer. True to its name Newari food is the domain of the indigenous Newari people, historical inhabitants of Kathmandu and surrounding valleys. They love their spices and if you can handle the heat, try their Khaja Set (Snack Set) of beaten rice, choila, chana, achar, bhatmas and aloo dum. Order with a cool drink on hand. You’ve been warned!
Dhido is rice substitute made of maize flour, barley or millet. Traditionally, it is served with Gundruk jhol (curry of dried and fermented vegetables) or local khukura ko jhol (free-range chicken curry). However, in most hotels you can order dhido with meat curry and dal.
Well the easiest way to explain Chatamari is Nepali style pizza or rice crepe with delicious toppings. The scrumptious thin rice flour crepe topped with eggs and minced meat makes for one satisfying meal. It comes with a side of meat gravy or tomato achar for dips. Heaven!
Sizzler literally announces its arrival onto your table with the ‘sizz’ noises adding to the drama and excitement of the dish. It is a hot plate of a steak of your choice, with noodles and veggies as accompaniment served with generous lashings of gravy. Now, it may sound as your regular roast dish, but trust us, it’s not.
Hurrah for the Tibetan neighbours north of our borders because they sure know how to make a delicious bowl of noodle-soup. Thukpa, is the go-to food in cold winter mornings, days, evenings. Or whenever the skies cloud over irrespective of the time of the year.
Now, perhaps understandably you might not think coffee when you think Nepal. Overshadowed by the much-loved Nepali-chiya, coffee culture is relatively new in Nepal. But. We grow our own coffee, process it and have trained baristas who can whip up any fancy concoction that you might expect in a Starbucks or Costa you frequent. We understand the pain of being served a cup of instant coffee with your otherwise perfect breakfast. So, at the earliest opportunity head to a Nepali coffee shop for your caffeine fix.
Tongba is a hot alcholic beverage made of fermented millet served in a bamboo cup. The dark grains are topped with hot water at the table, stirred and sipped through a straw. It has to be mentioned here that there are other strong contenders in this category of home made alcohol varieties, from chayang to jaad to aila.
Sel roti is an ancient snack from the hilly region that is cooked especially in Tihar- the festival of lights. Sel Roti is basically a bread type dish prepared out of semi liquid rice flour mixed with spices like cardamom and cinnamon deep fried in hot oil under golden brown. Head out early in the mornings to the little mithai shops for fresh sel-rotis prepared by the streets or you can find it in the local marts, which while equally good, kind of takes the ceremony out of the experience.