Visiting new places and trying out their traditional cuisine has always been a vital part of traveling. Traveling becomes more memorable because of the food that place has to offer and the people you meet. Nepal is known not only because of its beauty but also because of its cultural dimension and different cultural diversity opens the doors to different types of cuisines.
Let’s dive in to take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey through the heart of the Himalayas.
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Picture a plate filled with cozy warmth – that's dal bhat, Nepal's soul-soothing everyday dish packed with lots of good stuff for your body. When you visit Nepal, you can't miss trying dal bhat. It's made with lentils (dal) and rice (Bhat) and comes with tasty side dishes like curried vegetables, pickles, and sometimes meat or fish.
For foreigners, there's a famous saying, "Dal bhat power 24 hours," highlighting how this meal gives you the energy to stay active all day, perfect for trekking trails. Dal-bhat is not only easy to make but also holds a special place in every Nepalese heart. It's not just food; it's a daily tradition that brings people together.
Momos are steamed dumplings with different fillings inside. It is believed that momo originated in Tibet and then the immigrant from Tibet who settled in Kathmandu introduced it to Nepal. And overtime momo has been an integral part of Nepalese cuisine. They are commonly served with a tangy dipping sauce.
The dough for momo is rolled into circular flat pieces, and then the filling is filled either completely or in a half-moon shape. The filling can be vegetables, chicken, buffalo, or pork. Among these, buffalo meat has gained popularity as a favorite filling within the Nepalese community Whether enjoyed as a street food snack or part of a festive meal, momos have secured their place as a cherished and versatile treat in Nepalese cuisine.
3. Samay baji
Newari cuisine offers a diverse range of flavors. Among all of those finger-flicking dishes Samay baji(Newari khaja set) is the most loved one. Samay baji symbolizes fortune, health, longevity, and good luck and it is eaten in family celebrations or puja.
This newari khaja set consists of beaten rice,chatamari,chhwela(barbecued or marinated buffalo meat), fried boiled egg, black soybeans, and Aalu-wala(spicy potato salad). This delicacy is popular not only for the taste but also for the benefit it carries for the human body. Beyond its delicious flavors, each element in the Newari khaja set adds a unique touch to the overall experience. From the crispy texture of beaten rice to the savory and spicy notes of chhwela, the set represents the intricate balance of flavors and textures that characterize Newari cuisine.
Selroti is the traditional rice base doughnut deep fried to a golden color which is soft on the inside and then crispy on the outside. The batter is made from rice flour, milk, sugar, and ghee. This authentic food is compulsory during puja or for big events for Hindu people mainly in Dashain and Tihar.
It is said that the concept of selroti was formed because of babari (the original roti that is more like a pancake).babari couldn’t be kept for a long time or for a long journey that's when the concept of selroti was introduced and it lasted for like 2 weeks. Thus, Selroti not only serves as a delectable treat but also carries a historical narrative of adaptation and innovation within Nepalese culinary traditions.
Gundruk is a popular Nepalese dish made by fermenting or drying the greeny leaves which can be of different vegetables such as radish, spinach,mustard leaves, or cauliflower leaves.it is sour in taste and brown in color.It can be served as a side dish or appetizer. It can also be made for soup as it contains a great source of minerals.
The popular theory states that during the unification of greater Nepal, Prithivi Narayan Shah made many attempts to conquer Kritipur thus, scarcity of foods started to rise so, people started to store everything they had for food they started storing the green leaves to and that’s how gundruk was made.
Thukpa is a Tibetan noodle soup which is originated in the eastern part of Tibet. signifying noodles in Tibet. It has an impact from both sides Tibet and China. Nepalese version of thukpa contains noodles, chili powder, masala, vegetables, and meat pieces.
The most typical thukpa is found in the Sankhuwasabha district. This delicacy holds different memories in winter as you consume it makes your body warmer and also helps to boost the immune system of your body. It is available in every corner of Nepal. Beyond just a meal, thukpa represents a cultural intersection and a shared appreciation for a warming, soul-soothing delight amidst Nepal's diverse cuisine.
Bara also known as Wo is a delicious lentil pancake. It is made of a paste of lentils, The paste is made with a mix of spices of cumin, turmeric, and ginger. The batter shouldn’t be too liquidy, it should be thick. Bara can be eaten plain, with the egg cooked on one side, or minced buffalo meat with a fresh tomato pickle.
Originally this delicacy is from the Newar community they made this dish at different festivals like jatra’s, Dashain, and tihar. For the occasion of Birthday or Wedding, it is used as the good luck, called Sagun. Bara is often served with a side of yogurt or aalu achar. This dish is known for its delicious taste and crunchy texture.
Dhindo is a traditional food that is mainly served in Himalayan regions. Originally it is made with buckwheat flour but it also can be made up of corn flour or millet. It is prepared by mixing the flour and water continuously stirring it over heat until it becomes thick.
It is eaten with different side dishes like vegetables, meat curries, or lentils. Eating dhindo gives you lots of energy because it consists of healthy carbohydrates. Some types are gluten-free, which is great for people who can’t have gluten. It also has lots of fiber which helps the stomach to work well.
Tongba is a traditional drink of limbu( one of the Nepalese communities)in the eastern part of Nepal. It is a millet-based alcohol beverage that is made from cooked, fermented millet that is combined with the stater after that the grains are then mixed in hot water thus resulting drink that is thick and milky.
It is sipped through a special straw and then the container is refilled for like 3-4 times until the flavor and the alcohol are exhausted. It contains a low level of alcohol in it and is mainly enjoyed as a soothing and warming drink during the winter season.
Lassi is basically the most loved drink in the summer season and it is made of yogurt Lassi is a thick, sweet, and delicious yogurt drink, which is originally from India and can be made up of different fruits, actually it depends upon your taste.
From a health perspective, lassi is good for digestion as it helps in digestion. It also contains healthy bacteria which will help you to keep away the the bad bacteria. It also has vitamin D and Lactic acid which help to improve immunity and maintain youthful skin. While it might not be originally from Nepal, it has been a widely enjoyed beverage in the country. There are basically two types of lassi which are sweet lassi and salty lassi. Sweet lassi is made of yogurt, sugar and sometimes flavored with fruits or species while on the other hand, salty lassi typically includes yogurt, salt, and different flavors of savory species.
From hearty Dal-Bhat, providing essential nutrients and sustaining energy, to the savory delight of Momos and the aromatic Newari Khaja Set, each dish tells a story and is a celebration in itself. The traditional Selroti, Gundruk, and Thukpa bring forth the authenticity of Nepalese cuisine, showcasing a culinary journey deeply rooted in history.
In conclusion, exploring the culinary delights of Nepal is an integral part of experiencing the rich tapestry of its culture and diverse heritage. The top 10 foods highlighted above offer not just a taste of Nepal's flavors but also a glimpse into its traditions, history, and the warmth of its people.
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