Nepal is not widely known as a foodie destination. In fact, many of the most common or typical dishes you find in Nepal are not actually Nepalese, because the country’s cuisine is heavily influenced by Tibet, India and Thailand. But, if you know what you’re looking for, you can find some truly great Nepalese food.
Easily my favorite thing to eat when I’m in Nepal, this dish originates from Tibet but is now a staple food in Nepal. Momos are steamed (sometimes fried) dumplings filled with anything from buffalo meat, chicken, and potatoes to even cheese and spinach. I ate these at least once a day, sometimes as many as three times a day, everyday I was in Nepal. Momos are hands down my favorite Nepalese food.
This version of chili is different than the version I’m used to at home, which is more like a stew. The Nepalese version consists of strips of dried buffalo meat that are pan fried with onion, peppers and garlic before being topped with cilantro. I’ve had versions of this that were almost too tough to chew (similar to jerky), while other versions have been fork tender. I prefer the more tender version, personally.
Thukpa is another dish commonly found in Nepal that actually originated in Tibet. This soup will probably remind you of the American chicken noodle soup you’re most accustomed to. The thicker than average broth is full of shredded chicken and vegetables, and if you want, you can add chili to spice it up a bit!
Chaat is served in many different ways and acts as a base to which other ingredients are added. In fact, you’ll be seeing another type of chaat later on this same list.
I found this version, which originates from India, as street food served from a cart, which made me somewhat hesitant to purchase it, but I’m glad I did.
At the bottom of bowl, crunchy bits of fried dough are topped with a boiling mixture of peas and potatoes before being topped with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of coriander. I loved all the different flavors and textures in this one dish.
This was probably my favorite new dish I discovered during my recent walking food tour of Kathmandu. Bara are spicy lentil cakes served with potatoes and peas and topped with a spicy sauce. I could eat these everyday!
I’ll admit, this is the one thing on my list I didn’t actually enjoy, but I don’t like coffee to begin with, even though I know most people do.
Mustang coffee is a drink popular with those that come to Nepal for trekking. It’s a mix of coffee, sugar or honey, butter and raksi– Nepalese moonshine or rice wine. I didn’t like it, but I do think everyone should try it, as it is so popular. You can’t come to Nepal and not try Mustang coffee!
Aside from momos, Thakali set is probably the meal I ate most while in Nepal. It centers around the biggest staple food in Nepal- dal bhat. Dal bhat is steamed riced served with a lentil soup. In a Thakali set, dal bhat is served with accompanying dishes such as spinach, a vegetable or chicken curry, pickles, spicy sauce and potatoes.
The best thing about a Thakali set is that as you eat, the restaurant owner comes around and refills your plate like some grandmother that never thinks you’ve had enough to eat. You literally have to stop them from putting more on your plate when you’ve had your fill!
Another dish featuring chaat, dahi puri is one of the most interesting Nepalese foods I tried. This dish consists of flour-filled smashed potatoes topped with chutney, yogurt and red chili powder.
You’re meant to eat these in one bite, which some in our group found a bit difficult, but I had no problems! I loved the combination of textures and tastes- sweet, yet slightly spicy.
And finally, my favorite thing to drink when I’m in Nepal. I’m not sure if this drink originated in Nepal, but I know I’ve only seen it sold in Nepal and India. Sometimes the liquid is hot water with a bag of lemon tea added to it, and sometimes it’s lemonade. Either way, the bottom of the glass is layered with honey and fresh ginger is grated into the drink.
When it’s raining, I love to grab a glass of this and sit in a cafe sipping this hot drink while waiting for the storm to pass.