Bordering Nepal is India, China and Tibet and you see many influences of these countries in Nepalese cuisines. Nepal and its neighbour India share spicy curry, rice, flatbreads and turmeric. However, Nepalese food doesn’t use cream found in Indian cuisine.
Local food is largely vegetarian and relatively healthy and lentils, potatoes and spices are very popular. This is due to the presence of Buddhist and Hindu traditions. But there is definitely one thing you won’t find easy and that’s beef. The cow is considered a sacred animal in Nepalese culture and is actually the country’s symbol. If you were to consume it, you would be in serious trouble... so try vegetarian or stick with chicken.
One of the most common, and basic dishes in Nepal is Dal Bhat which consists of rice (bhat), a curry of vegetables, spicy vegetables with vinegar and a thick lentil soup (dal). It is normally a vegetarian meal as meat is quite expensive in Nepal. It can be eaten any time in the day and can also be served as a side dish to any meal.
There is still today a strong presence of an ethnic group called Newaris who were the original inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley. Their distinct culture, language, cuisine and architecture found in the capital. A popular Newari snack is called Bara which is a thick savoury rice-flour pancake which is eaten plain or with an egg on top. Their food is definitely a unique subset of Nepalese cuisine.
Another very popular dish is Momos. We’ve been told that is one of the favs for our volunteers and is a must try! Momos are small. pockets of flour that are stuffed with veggies and sometimes lamb or chicken. They can be served with several different sauces and a touch of mayo which makes it all together a mouth-watering combo.
But maybe you have a big sweet tooth? We’ve got the perfect recipe for you. This dessert is called Suji Halva and this amount will give you 4 to 6 servings. You’ll need:
1/2 cup Semolina wheat/flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Ghee
1 1/2 cup Water
1 oz Sliced almonds
1 oz Raisins
8 Green cardamoms spice
1. Start by boiling the sugar and water together for 5 minutes 2. Then heat the ghee, add the semolina wheat/flour and stir on low heat (mixture should become light creamy colour) 3. Add the syrup and stir briskly until it is absorbed in the wheat/flour 4. Mix in almonds, cardamom seeds and raisins.
This dish is best served hot with a coffee or tea!
There is so much to taste in Nepal and we have more amazing recipes in our Taste of Travel cook book. We have dishes from all our hubs from people on the ground. You can feel great about purchasing this book as all proceeds will go to out charity The FutureSense foundation. Get yours here!