Redesign your life. Travel the world.
Nepal is an ethnically and culturally diverse country, it successfully combines a range of characteristics from its neighboring countries with its own gastronomic history, resulting in an impressive array of local cuisine. Nepalese food is famous for its nutritional value and tempting taste, it may look simple but it is bursting with flavor.
Personally I think food is the key to scratching under the surface of a country’s culture. Try to eat were the locals do, learn about local dishes and observe how food is important to them. Getting involved in food culture is a great way to learn more about a country and its people.
Food and drink is a pretty important experience for me whilst I am travelling. I always try to eat local specialties, even if I think they are awful at least I gave them a go! Eating out is a great way to get social too; you will meet locals who can give you tips on things to see and do but also meet other travelers or holiday makers who can give recommendations as well.
Here is my list of a MUST try food in Nepal.
1. Dal Bhat
This dish basically means: Bhat (Rice) Dal (Lentil Soup). It comes in different versions, but the most popular is dal bhat tarkari. A meal eaten twice daily in every Nepali household, you can hardly find a Nepali who doesn’t like dal-bhat and a Nepal traveler who hasn’t tried it when traveling to Nepal. The taste is actually good (feels like eating saute mung beans in the Philippines). The serving is usually far too much for one person, unless of course if you have a big appetite! And let me warn you, be careful about the chili as it can be brutally hot.
When it comes to simple, delicious, one-meal dishes of Nepal, you can’t beat the famous MOMOS. It is a Nepali innovation of Chinese dumplings which is made from dough filled with minced meat buffalo, chicken, pork and vegetables. Momos are usually steamed, though they are sometimes fried or steam-fried and served with traditional tomato chutney and yellow chili-tomato-sesame seed sauce. The filling becomes succulent as it produces an intensively flavored broth sealed inside the wrappers. This dish is very popular and can be found in every corner of Nepal: on road side stalls, local dining restaurants or high end restaurant. Amazing dish, I don’t know anyone who dislikes it.
This a special traditional food of Newari people, sometimes referred to as Nepali pizza. Made from rice floor, the crepe is topped with minced meat, egg and seasoned with vegetables. This is a must try delicacy.
4. Sel roti
Sel roti is a home-made, sweet, ring-shaped rice bread/doughnut. It is made of rice flour and deep fried in butter. It is mostly prepared during Tihar -a widely celebrated Hindu festival in Nepal.
Gundruk is a fermented and dried vegetable product. It is produced by shredding the leaves of mustard, radish and cauliflower leaves and placing them in an earthenware pot to ferment and then sun dried. It is a popular food in Nepal and claimed to be one of the national dishes. It doesn’t look so appetizing but I tell you it does taste good. The taste is unforgettable as it is aromatic and tender. Those who love eating green leafy vegetables will surely love this.
Thukpa means noodles in Tibetan, which explains that it is a Tibetan dish. But it is also extremely popular in Nepal, almost like a part of Nepali cuisine. In fact the Nepali version of thukpa is slightly spicier. Served hot in a huge bowl, with plenty of vegetables, chicken and a flavorsome blend of spice. It is a wonderfully nourishing and warming dish and therefore an ideal one dish meal for cold weather.
Raksi is a traditional homemade distilled alcoholic drink in Nepal and Tibet, usually made from millet, rice or corn (maize). Newari women, especially in traditional households, take great pride in distilling their own particular brand of Raksi. Many of the recipes have been handed down through the generations and kept as precious family secrets. Nepalese drink Raksi profusely. It is a must on various social and religious events in Nepal. In fact, drinking Raksi is an occasion itself, it is an integral part of many rituals and ceremonies, regarded as a pure offering for the gods. How does it taste? It has a distinct refreshing sweet – sour taste. But be mindful though, because it is a strong drink with over 45 percent alcohol.
8. Yak Cheese
Exotic? Let me throw some light on Yak cheese, which is also a must try, while in Nepal. Nepal is the land of Yaks; hence dairy products made from Yak are plenty. This cheese is available in every possible dairy in Nepal. Not only is this cheese exotic, but also healthy. The first time I had my Yak cheese, was when i ate breakfast at Shanker Hotel. I am so curious about the taste and have eaten a lot actually, trying to know how the taste will blend with other food. The flavor is pretty bland and it melts with a stringy-ness that reminds me of mozzarella, but without the creaminess.
9. Juju Dhau
We covered everything from appetizers to main course to alcohol, so now it is time for dessert. Juju Dhau means ‘king of yogurts’ in Newari. It is unique to the city of Bhaktapur where many locals produce the titular curd in their homes, now available everywhere in Nepal. Juju Dhau is made from a mixture of buffalo milk and cow milk which is boiled to high temperatures and stirred vigorously before poured into clay pots. The clay pots also helps in absorbing excess moisture.
I have had sweetened yogurt several times, before I tried my first Juju Dhau in Kathmandu. And it is not just like any other sweet yogurt, it is creamy with extremely rich texture and mildly sweet taste. One bowl is never enough. One of the unique characteristics of Juju Dhau other than its taste is that if you hold the clay pot upside down the curd will NOT fall out! I highly recommend this to everybody who is traveling to Nepal, It is a must!