Being born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, it’s obvious that I ate Nepali food a lot. We did not have fast food restaurants and eating out was just not a culture while growing up. Those were saved for rare, special occasions. I did not really cook in Nepal but have always loved food (which partly explains the existence of this blog). You guys, Nepali food is straight up delicious but since it does not get recognized as much, I thought I’d share 5 things about Nepali food everyone should know about. While I am not an expert in Nepali food or know how to cook like our grandmothers and moms I hope that someday Nepali food will get to spread all over the world like mainstream Chinese, Japanese, and Indian cuisine. A girl can hope right?
– Nepali food is NOT Indian food. Since it’s a major misunderstanding, I thought I’d clear this up right away. While I heart Indian food, I don’t like when Nepali food is lumped together with Indian/Pakistani/Bengali food. We definitely do share some similarities but each cuisine is unique in their own ways. I think a lot of it also comes from the fact that most Nepali restaurants (at least in the US) offer Indian/Himalayan/Nepali cuisine together which makes it even more confusing for people. I am guilty myself when it comes to explaining Nepali food to other people, I simply say it’s like Indian food and everyone gets the idea. Image via my friend Ruchi Kasajoo.
– Raw instant noodles are a popular after-school snack.I don’t know about other countries/cultures, but most of us grew up eating raw instant noodles with sodium and MSG laden spice mixes as our after-school snack. Tiraura and churpi are also pretty popular ‘Nepali candies’; titaura slightly reminds me of sour straws (except that tiraura can be spicy, sweet, sour and typically made with tamarind, hog plum, mango, preserved lemons) and honestly, I have no clue how to describe churpi. It’s hardened cheese that is hard as a rock and has a strong cheesy flavor. In the US, it is sold as Himalayan dog chews and Bailey loves it. Image via & via.
– Its NOT all daal-bhaat-tarkari (lentil soup – rice – vegetables).Daal-bhaat-tarkari is eaten twice, if not at least once everyday in most households. However, remember that Nepal is a diverse country and depending upon the region you are from, your staple could be barley, buffalo meat, or potatoes. The above photo is chicken choyela, a Newari delicacy that is typically made with water buffalo.
– Baking is not a norm. Ovens and microwaves are almost nonexistent in most households although it’s starting to change now. We satisfied our pastry, cookies, and bread desires by going to nearby bakeries as often as possible. Bakeries are pretty common in Kathmandu; we ate wide varieties of delicious/colorful pastries, cookies, and breads. Similarly, pizza, lasagna, baked chicken, etc is something we reserve for dining out. A pressure cooker is our best friend!! Image via
– Nepali people LOVE mo:mo – I have talked quite a bit about mo:mo here (proof a,b) and every time I hear the word mo:mo, I want some right away. It’s the same way with most Nepali people I know everywhere. Like McDonalds, you will see restaurants selling mo:mo at every corner in Kathmandu, some outside on a gigantic steamer as well. This is my version of Jhol Mo:Mo – Soup Dumplings. I am writing this based on my experience growing up in Kathmandu almost a decade ago. I am sure a lot of it has changed over the years but I hope this gave you guys some idea on what Nepali food is like. I’d love to hear your thoughts..and if you are Nepali, tell me some of your experiences.