While food in Nepal might not be as widely known as Indian cuisine, Nepalese food still has its fair share of gastronomical finds.
The local food tends to be healthy and largely vegetarian with an emphasis on lentils, potatoes and spices and less reliance on fats or red meats.
Discover five basic dishes from traditional Nepalese food and familiarise yourself with the flavours you could be exploring.
Traditional Food in Nepal
1. Dal Bhat
Dal Bhat is one of the most basic dishes of Nepali cuisine. It's usually vegetarian (meat is very expensive in Nepal!) And consists of rice (bhat), a thick lentil soup (dal), a curry of vegetables (tarkari) and spicy vegetables macerated in vinegar (achaar). It is eaten all day long and serves as a side dish for many dishes. Discover how to go about making dal bhat here.
2. Newa Cuisine
The Newars were the first inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. Their typical dish consists of rice flakes, spiced potatoes, achaar (pickled vegetables), fresh soybeans cooked in a spicy sauce and slices of raw vegetables. Generally, Newars go heavy handed on spices so to calm the taste buds, a little yogurt is often served as an accompaniment.
Momos are small stuffed and steamed dumplings that originally hail from Tibet, but are now served everywhere in Nepal. The dough is made from wheat flour and water while the stuffing can be made of various fillings like spinach, carrots or cabbage, sauteed with a few onions, spices, cheese and minced meat. They are steamed and sometimes browned in a frying pan and served with a hot sauce. In Tibetan, Momo means "8", which is why these little ravioli are usually served by 8.
Behind this exotic name lies a simple meal of flour. Dhido can be made from millet, wheat, maize or buckwheat and replaces dhal bat in parts of Nepal. It is served with a spicy broth with achaar and a spicy sauce. It can also be eaten in the same style of a dhal bat with a dal or a vegetable curry.
5. Street Food in Nepal
Nepalis are not followers of the three meals a day. At home, they usually eat a dal bhat around 10am then a second around 17h. But in case of hunger, gourmands consume what would be called here healthy street food. The most popular snack is puffed rice with boiled potatoes, green peppers, red onion, spices, coriander and lime.
Dal is one of those recipes that goes all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Unlike dishes such as biryani, brought to India by the Moghuls, it is one of those foods that has always been there. It is therefore a building block of Indian culture.
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