Must-Try Nepalese Food and Snacks

Published March 11, 2019
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Have you ever tried Nepalese food or even know a thing or two about it?

I find Nepalese food to be such a diverse cuisine. Their food is heavily influenced by their different backgrounds, ethnicity and even climate all within the same country. Nearby places such as China, India, and Tibet also have influenced their food. However, due to the challenge of transportation and natural barriers, they have learned to use their locally sourced ingredients resulting in a different take on some of the classics.

Some Nepalese dishes are straight up delicious but definitely lacking in terms of recognition. On our last trip of 2018, we went ahead and splurge on airfare as we visited the country dubbed as the living cultural museum – Nepal.

Momo/Mo:Mo

Momo/Mo:Mo

Momos

Momos are the most cherished and most popular dish in Nepal. Definitely not the kind that will challenge you to harm yourself or others. It is a bite-sized dumpling with fillings ranging from buff, chicken, veggies or even chocolate and other desserts. These are then wrapped in dough and served with a spicy sauce, or condensed milk for dessert momos. These dumplings tend to be very juicy compared to others that I’m familiar with. The sauce also gives off a nice kick and is a perfect compliment to this humble dish.

What I personally love about momos is the versatility of the dish. Aside from the different fillings, it comes in different versions – from plain, fried, and soup momos. One can never get fed up with momos, there are simply too many to try!

Cheese Momo

Cheese Momo

Dal Bhat at Muktinath Thakali Kitchen

Dal Bhat at Muktinath Thakali Kitchen

Dal Bhat

Another staple in Nepal is the Dal, in its simplest form is a thin consistency lentil soup. Bhat refers to a type of starch which is normally rice. In some areas of Nepal, it is hard to grow rice because of the geographical location and the climate, so this is usually substituted with any other form of starch that is easily accessible. Dal Bhat is very common in Nepal and you can easily find it anywhere, locals often eat at least two to three servings of dal bhat a day.

Dal Bhat at Hotel View Point Nagarkot

Dal Bhat at Hotel View Point Nagarkot

Trying this dish for the first time can be quite overwhelming. There are simply too many things happening on one plate. This traditional meal consists of having the bhat in the middle then the dal and a selection of seasonal vegetables surrounding it in a huge tray-like metallic plate. Some places offer added yogurt and curries made from chicken or goat if you are willing to shell out just a tiny bit more. But to be honest, trying the vegetarian version was not something I regret.

The taste varies as different spices and ingredients are used depending on the season and ethnicity. But it always contains spices like garam masala, turmeric, and cumin.

If you’re hungry and just finished a whole tiring day tour, this is your go-to food. I honestly can’t finish a whole serving, and I eat a lot.

Sel Roti at Bandipur

Sel Roti at Bandipur

Sel Roti

The lovechild of a doughnut and a bagel, what more can you ask for? It is a traditional delicacy that is sweet and ring-shaped. Most often prepared during festivals, weddings, and other celebrations.

Sel Roti is made mostly of rice flour, banana, ghee, milk, butter, water and other flavorings of choice. The dough then is poured by hand on boiling oil or ghee, using two wooden sticks it is turned over and cooked until it turns light brown.

I really adore a really circular Sel Roti as the dough is poured by hand, it can be quite a challenge to make a perfectly shaped Sel Roti. However, I find the flavors a bit underwhelming and biting into an oily and not so sweet dessert like is something new to me.

Buff Thukpa and Chicken Sandheko with rice on the side

Buff Thukpa and Chicken Sandheko with rice on the side

Thukpa

Every country has its own version of hot noodle soup. Thukpa is basically that with a lot of vegetables and meat, it has a thick broth which is surprisingly not spicy. It comes in different varieties depending on the noodle used. Thukpa uses regular string noodles, Thenthuk uses long flat noodles, Pathug uses gnocchi like noodles, and more! But all of them have one similarity, they are all heartwarming food.

Thenthuk/Thenduk at Sherpa's Kitchen in Pokhara

Thenthuk/Thenduk at Sherpa’s Kitchen in Pokhara

Thuk means heart and this dish is considered as their best comforting food. Being a warming and comforting dish, it is a necessity in every household. It is very filling, and all the places we went to were very generous in their servings when it comes to Thukpa. Wherever you go, you can always find yourself with a bowl of brimming hot noodles.

It is a specially a delight to have during a cold chilly night.

Khaja Set

Khaja Set

Khaja Set

Much like Dal Bhat but the one we tried uses Cheura instead of actual rice. Now, this not something for those with weak teeth. I mean, I feel pretty confident biting into ice cream but this was something different. Hard to admit, but this might be something out of my league. Aside from the cheura, it includes hard soybeans, spicy potato salad, nuts, pickles, and other smaller snacks.

Cheura is made by pounding partly cooked rice grains (rice bran included). The grains are half boiled then left to dry and then pounded by hand or machine. It apparently has a lot of health benefit – some of which were to massage the gums and strengthen the teeth. The pounded rice expands once inside the body making you feel full faster and it is proven to help with breaking down food which stimulates faster metabolism. In addition, the bran which was not taken out contains a lot of fiber and minerals.

To be honest, I didn’t quite enjoy the meal. My gums felt attacked and I had to stop eating. The service took a while too so I was assuming the majority of the meal was just recently prepared but still I found it hard to chew and swallow.

Chatpate

Chatpate

Chatpate

Jim’s most desired street food in Nepal. Various ingredients are used to make this flavorful snack but the key ingredients are instant noodles (straight from the pack), puffed rice, onion, tomato, chickpea, vegetable oil, seasoning, and lime. It is mixed well and served at the instant noodles packaging, you are then given a piece of cardboard to scoop up and eat. Reducing waste at its best?

It has a strong tangy and spicy flavor and the balance of all the ingredients and flavors are mind-blowing. But what I really enjoyed was the experience of eating it. Standing or walking along the sidewalk while carrying an instant noodles packaging filled to the brim, and steadily scooping the content out with a piece of cardboard cutout was what made the experience unforgettable.

Other food and snacks that are not exactly Nepalese but are all over Nepal:

  • Briyani
  • Panipuri
  • Jeri
  • Tandoori Chicken
  • Samosa

Nepal has a very complex gastronomic history. Several neighboring countries’ ingredients, dishes, and taste, as well as their own, have been combined throughout the years. This made eating their dishes quite an adventure on its own.

Planning a trip to Nepal? Click here to read our 10 Days DIY Itinerary from Kathmandu to Pokhara, and places in between!

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