“Nepal is the yam between two breads,” said the first king of unified Nepal referring to the country’s geographical location between India and China.
Little did he know he was appropriately describing what Nepali food and cuisine evolved into being today.
Nepali cuisine has been successful in taking advantage of its geographic diversity, varied climate and culturally rich neighbors to create a food culture with unique and mouth-watering flavors.
While food items such as momo and dal bhat make the popularity cut, there are a several Nepali food items you should definitely try.
Below, we encapsulate the best of the best Nepali food and cuisine you should try when in Nepal or in a Nepali restaurant.
Momo deserves a special mention in any list of Nepali food.
A delicate pouch of flavored minced meat, veggies or both wrapped up in soft dough, momos make for delicious snack.
Unlike traditional dumplings you find in other parts of the world, the filling of the momos are seasoned with earthy flavors of turmeric, chili, cumin and more.
Moreover, many eatery and joints in the country have taken momos to the next level with exciting news fillings like cheese and spinach, cottage cheese and even chocolate.
It also comes in a lot of variety: fried, kothey, steamed, chili and ‘jhol’ momo.
A filling snack that mimics the workings of a pizza, Chatamari is famous dish that originated from an ethnic group in Nepal called Newars.
This ethnic community hail from Kathmandu valley are prominent in Nepal and Newari food is a large subset of Nepali cuisine.
Chatamari is one such item from Newari cuisine and is deemed as the Newari pizza.
A rice crepe topped with meat, veggies, tangy sauce with a cracked egg on top, it is a comforting and hearty snack.
Barbecued meat with a twist, sekuwa are bite sized pieces succulent meat often served with a side of puffed rice and pickles.
Complimenting any drink or occasions, this barbecue is flavored with intense Nepali spices and will leave you wanting more.
Chicken, Mutton or Mushroom Chili
With a kick of Szechuan and tangy sauces these chili dishes are more on the contemporary side.
Packed with a punch, they are usually soft or crunchy pieces of meat or veggies lathered in a tangy sauce.
A great sweet and sour savory dish that can spice up any boring meal.
Bara is a traditional Newari dish, a thick savory rice or lentils flour pancake which can be eaten on it own or with your choice of savory pickles.
Bara’s come different shapes and styles and to the untrained eye may even look like a dense fried doughnut.
While technically not a Nepali cuisine laphing is a new entrant to Nepali cuisine.
A savory and spicy dish a laphing is a mung bean cold noodle dish street food from Tibet.
Not for faint heart this dish can be quite spicy and delicious.
To be fair a list such as this on without the entry of Dal Bhat would be a crime and hence while the first entry in the mains is an obvious one, the dish itself is full of surprises.
The literal translation of this dish is rice and lentils but this is a complete understatement.
In reality dal bhat is a thali style celebrations, where you get try a range of nepali flavor in one dish.
This dish is served with a wide selections of vegetables and meat curry, salads, pickles and curd.
A meal fit for the king’s it will leave you extremely satisfied.
Nepali cuisine has a lot of influence from the hilly/ mountainous region, after all it makes for the 75% of the country.
This region often forgos the usual staple rice and works with options that easily available to them, enter dhido.
A dish made from grounded flours of maize and buckwheat, it made by adding butter and water to this mixture.
Eaten accompanied with seasonal vegetable curry, fermented leafy greens called gundrunk and some pickles, a meal with dhido is healthy and nourishing.
The dish serves you with an authentic and unique palate.
Another contemporary entrant to the list, chow mein which originated from China has taken its own shape in Nepal.
This savory stir fried noodles is made with wheat flour and is packed with vegetables and meat of choosing.
Served with a side of ketchup this is a quick and delicious on- the-go meal.
Crunchy on the outside, sweet and soft on this inside, sel roti is a rice dough treat that is fried in clarified butter and oil.
They are porous and crunchy in texture and have a chewy bite to them.
The beauty of this dish is that it can be eaten on its own, paired with some tea or with a savory curry.
A dish that looks aesthetically pleasing and tastes just as good, made popular by the Newari community in Nepal, Yomari is a steamed rice dough sweet dish.
The inside of this dough is often filled with jaggery (Chaku) or thickened milk (khuwa) and is served hot as the dish is usually eaten in the winter months.
Kheer or pudding is made using milk, butter and sugar.
This simple yet delicious dish comes in many forms, based on your liking you can add ingredient to the dish and upgrade it.
One of the most common forms of kheer is made with rice or seviyan (vermicelli).
Originated from the Indian subcontinent this dish is quite famous in south asian countries, a diamond shaped cake made of milk, burfi is sweet and often covered with nuts.
A compact and nutty cake burfi are used to mark auspicious occasions in the country and even used as offering to deities.
From the region of Bhaktapur juju dhau is a creamy, light and wholesome mix between yogurt and custard.
This dish can be eaten on its own or be jazzed up by adding fruits and nuts.
No cuisine is complete without a drink, drinks complement the dishes well and are telling of the regions they come from.
Again popularized in a lot Indian subcontinents, milk tea is local favorite in Nepal.
Sometimes spiced with masalas like cinnamon and elaichi, milk tea is in the center of most social gatherings in the country.
A morning greet or a mid afternoon pick me up milk teas in Nepal are a part of it all.
Homemade fermented rice wine Chhang has a mild sour taste, almost like a mild cider.
The locals love to enjoy this drink with some Nepali snacks listed above and due to accessibility and potent nature is a quite popular among all regions of Nepal.
Chhang is usually cloudy in color and has a mild alcohol content in it.
Pronounced as tum-baa this drink usually found in the eastern part of the country.
Made from brewed millet sans water, the drink is consumed traditionally in wooden container called Tongba through a metal straw.
With a slightly higher alcohol content Thongba’s are usually sweet in taste.
The brewed millet is mixed with hot water before consumption and is the ideal for the colder regions and winter months.
This popular yogurt based drink comes in two variants, either salted or sweet. Sweet lassi usually includes sugar, fruits, cardamom and is highly refreshing.
Where as salted lassi includes some spices and salt.
This healthy and light drink is paired well with spicy food items as it cools the body and helps in digestion as well.
Nepali cuisines is sometimes cornered for being limited due to its mountainous terrains where little vegetation can be grown.
However, this limitation has caused for the cuisine to be more creative, bringing together mix of flavors that that transcend borders, ethnicities and regions.