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A Guide to Main Dishes of Nepal

"Good Food is Good Mood"

Food is one of the vital necessities of life. Without food barely a person can survive. Not only humans, but all living things on this earth also depend on food for survival. Human beings are so evolved that they prepare food in different styles which have different tastes.

Cooking food is always been my favorite pastime. Everyone likes to experiment with preparing different dishes to utilize the time. So, the question is “how about giving a try to prepare a Nepalese dish?” Nepal is not only famous for the beautiful Himalayan ranges but also for the variety of food items. Nepal has a diverse culture and tradition spread throughout an area of 1,47,181 sq. km. Being a Nepali, it is a pride to say that Nepal is the only nation where people following different religions are residing in peace and harmony. No, any religious riots have been heard of.

Anyways, let’s focus on FOOD IN NEPAL for now. Many believe that the Nepalese foods are just limited to Samosa, Mo: Mo: and Thukpa (noodles) but if you want to explore the savors of food in Nepal, you will find each and every household has their special dishes made in every festival or occasions or daily meals. This blog is specially written for giving a brief description of Nepalese food items which really taste delicious. It is sure that once you taste Nepalese cuisine, you will like to have it the next time. Different parts of Nepal have different authentic and traditional food items. Even though the name of the food item is the same, the style of preparation, the ingredients, and the taste differ from place to place. Due to modernization, the fast-food items have higher demands but traditional cuisines are tastier and delicious. Let’s have a look at a list of foods in Nepal:

  1. Dal Baht

The staple food all over Nepal is Dal Baht that includes rice, lentil soup, vegetable curry, meat or fish (optional), pickle, salad, and papad. This dish can be said the national dish of Nepalese. The accompaniments can be added or subtracted according to the want but in general, this is the complete Thali (dish). Wherever you will be in Nepal, Dal Baht is the primary dish served or offered.


  1. Dhido or Dhindo

Dhido or Dhindo is a traditional food item that is usually eaten in the villages. It is prepared by cooking a thick paste or mushy dough of buckwheat flour and ghee or butter. Corn flour or millet flour also can be used to make Dhido. During the trekking in mountains, a new but highly preferred dish is Dhido as an alternative to Dal-Baht. Being the staple food in the villages, it is usually eaten with yogurt or curd, vegetable or meat curries, pickles, etc.


  1. Chiura

Chiura is the beaten rice. The parboiled rice is flattened as dry, light, flat flakes which are consumed with little or no cooking. Chiura is one of the common snack items in Nepalese households. It is an accompaniment to curries and pickles. Just advice, it sometimes gives you a bloated feeling. Nowadays, there are different dishes served in restaurants or hotels in which Chiura is a must.


  1. Sel roti

Sel roti is a traditional sweet dish that is a ring-shaped doughnut or bread. It is specially prepared during Dashain and Tihar, the two great festivals of Nepal. But it is available all year round in sweet-confectioneries shops or any food vendors. The recipe to make sel roti includes rice flour, sugar, milk, and ghee (clarified butter). Cardamon or cloves are optional add-ons. It is said that a perfect sel roti should be soft inside and crispy outside. Sel roti can be served with curd/yogurt, pickle, curries. Many Nepalese enjoy the sweet, crunchy, and puffy sel roti as breakfast or snack.


  1. Gundruk

Gundruk – a popular Nepalese food item that is one of the appetizing side dishes with the main course meal. Many Nepalese prefer a dollop of Gundruk in every meal. It is prepared with radish, cauliflower, mustard. The making of Gundruk includes fermentation and drying of green vegetable leaves. The soup of Gundruk gives a yummy sour and tangy taste. Gundruk ko achar (pickle) also is another item that adjuncts the flavor.


  1. Kwati

A Newari soup comprises different types of sprouted beans. It is specially prepared during Janai Purnima festival. It is a very nutritious and flavored stew of mixed beans that is perfect for any kind of season. The nine beans are black eye peas, mung dal, chickpeas, green peas, cowpeas, black lentils, soya beans, adzuki, and fava beans. A pre-mixture for Kwati is nowadays available in every grocery store.


  1. Aloo Tama

Another Newari curry is prepared with bamboo shoots and potatoes. Aloo Tama is a gluten-free diet that can be enjoyed as plain stew or as an add-on with plain or fried rice or beaten rice. The Tama is a bamboo shoot that is fermented and the aloo is a potato that is used while making the stew. It is an authentic Nepali dish, a favorite of all households.


  1. Sukuti

Sukuti is another spicy food item that is made by drying meat over a charcoal fire. It is considered a staple dish of people living in the mountains or Himalayas where vegetables are rarely grown. Meats are cut into thin slices and then marinated in the paste of cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, and chili. The other way is just dry the thin slices under sunlight for few days and stores them.


  1. Samay Baji

A traditional Nepalese dish that is passed on along the Newari generations. It is kind of a platter inclusive of chiura (beaten rice), barbecued buffalo meat, smoked fish(optional), boiled and fried egg, spicy potato, pickle, diced ginger, salad, beans, and veggies. This gourmet delight has now become a popular thali not only in households but in restaurants, hotels, fast food cafes, and even food vendors.


  1. Chatamari

Another favorite snack is prepared as a rice-flour crepe with a variety of toppings like chopped onions, minced meat, egg, fresh coriander, chilies, spices, etc. It is also referred to as NEPALI PIZZA due to its round shape and the customized toppings. It is served cut in half and folded or just flat like pizza. Pickles or chutneys can be accompaniments.


  1. Choila

Choila is usually prepared from duck meat but any other meat also can be used. It is a spicy savory dish that is usually served with rice flakes or beaten rice. It is mostly included as a part of Samay Baji and prepared during auspicious occasions.


  1. Yomari

A sweet dish of Newari cuisines. It is prepared on a special day Yomari Punhi celebrated in the month of December. It has a peculiar fish shape, pointed at both edges made up of rice flour as dumplings filled with molasses mixture or coconut or sesame seeds. Due to its yummy taste, nowadays it is available all year round in selected cafes, confectioneries, restaurants. This relished item can be taken alone as a snack or served as a dessert after meals.


  1. Bara or Wo

Bara is a thick savory rice-flour pancake that is usually served plain or with cracked egg onto it or minced buffalo meat. Likewise, Wo is a kind of pancake prepared with black or green lentils batter. Let's say it is like daal patties. Newars make this during 'Sithi Nakha' festival.


  1. Juju Dhau

Juju Dhau meaning 'King of curd'. It is the highlight of Bhaktapur valley. Local people make Juju Dhau in clay pots with buffalo milk. According to them, buffalo milk is much richer than cow's milk. The thick, creamy yogurt is either sweetened or not. It is an important accompaniment to many festivals, occasions, and celebrations as a sweet dish or dessert. A must-try item while visiting Bhaktapur. If not, you can get it from shops as some shops exclusively order Juju Dhau due to its high demand.


  1. Thukpa

Thukpa is one of the favorite food not only in households but also in restaurants. It is a thick soup containing noodles or spaghetti that is mixed with meat, egg, or vegetables. In mountains or higher altitudes, Thukpa is eaten on a regular basis as it is nutritious and keeps your body warm. It is food that is a survival kit that provides constant energy and maintains a hygienic diet. Any meat of chicken, lamb, goat, yak, or buffalo can be used. The dish is so influenced by Tibetan and Chinese cuisine, the broth of Thukpa soup is amazingly seasoned. A bowl of Thukpa is plentiful.


  1. Momos

Momos are highly selected food items as a snack or meal. It is thoroughly enjoyed by kids, teenagers, youth, adults,s or the elderly. The dumpling filled with minced vegetables or meat of any kind is a popular appetizer in Nepal. Steam, fried or Jhol momo are the options. The dip or pickles for momo is yummy made with tomato, sesame seeds, chilies, etc. Not surprisingly, Momos is the favorite always hand-made fresh to order. It is a must to try street food.


  1. Laphing

Laphing has been a part of Nepalese cuisine for ages but the popularity started a few years back. The dish originally is called Liang Fen. The Tibetan refugees introduced Laphing to Nepal. It is a dish with noodles prepared using the starches of mung bean or potatoes or wheat flour. The dough is then rolled and cut into wide ribbons and then placed in the deep bowl containing spicy soy sauce. Garnished with vinegar, garlic, onions, coriander, chili paste, Szechuan pepper, and a splash of sesame oil. Easy to prepare and delicious taste has been a popular snack especially among the students, laborers, and office workers.


  1. Samosa

Samosa is a fried non-vegetarian food item that is usually taken as snacks in the evening or an appetizer. But nowadays, meat is also used in making samosa. A thin crepe shaped into triangles and stuffed with veggies like potatoes, green peas, dry nuts, etc. is a freshly prepared snack in the confectioneries of Nepal. It can be eaten plain or served with curry or chutney or pickle. It is the crunchy shell of Samosa that is usually enjoyed.

Author: Step on Himalaya

Date: 24th April, 2020