Nepalese food is good, but not life-changing. In other words, don’t come to Nepal for the food. While Nepalese food may not captivate your taste buds, it’s certainly interesting to learn about. Cuisine in Nepal is influenced by geography, ethnicity and religion in fascinating ways. For example, the Newari ethnic group, the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley, eat buffalo meat in order to honor Durga (“Beyond Reach”). Durga is the Great Goddess of All Time who destroyed the buffalo-demon Mahisasura and the asuras (demons) who plagued the earth. That’s particularly intriguing because Newaris are mostly Buddhists, and Buddhists usually abstain from meat. Therein lies the complexity of Nepal, its people and culture.
Thukpa – This is a hot noodle soup with Tibetan origins. It can be meat-based or vegetarian.
Dal Baht (Thali) – A traditional meal composed of a selection of various dishes which are served on a round platter. An an average vegetarian Dal Baht will contain steamed rice, lentil soup (Dal), curried vegetables and pickles. Sometimes the meal will also contain yogurt. Nepalese traditionally eat this meal with their hands, but you won’t be expected to. With always complimentary refills, Dal Baht is the most satisfying meal to eat while trekking. It’s also usually the tastiest.
Momos – Dumplings stuffed with your choice of either veggies, meat, and/or cheese. They are usually prepared steamed, but you can also get them fried. They are usually served with a tomato-based condiment as well as chili sauce.
The best place to sample Newari food is in Kathmandu. It’s spicier, crunchier, and more meat-heavy than other Nepali cuisine.
Sandheko – Spicy Newari salad made with potatoes, peanuts or lentils and seasoned with chilies, raw onions, and coriander.
Chatamari – “Newari Pizza,” thin rice batter topped with an egg, or meat and spices.
Samay Baji (Baji Set) – Newari Snacks Set that consists of a variety of dishes. The main dishes are Baji (beaten rice), Wo (lentil pancake), Mushya Wala (roasted soybeans), Aalu Wala (boiled spicy potato), Wauncha (stir-fried greens), Bhuti (boiled black-eyed peas), Lava-Palu (raw garlic strips), as well as Haku Chhoyla (barbecued buffalo meat).
Seabuckthorn Juice – In the Himalayas at higher elevations, fresh seabuckthorn juice is a delicious beverage to try.
Masala Tea (Masala Chai) – Popular hot beverage made by brewing black tea with a mixture of aromatic spices and herbs, such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and black peppercorn. Milk and sugar is usually added to the tea.