If I was to ask any of my non-nepali friends about their favorite nepali food, I’d undoubtedly hear momos from half of them and probably get a blank stare from the other half. Being in the shadow of two economic giants has its effect on this tiny nation. Which is why Nepali food goes unnoticed by much of the world except for mountaineers and trek enthusiasts that keep revisiting the country. A very common misconception and pain striking to me as a Nepali, is that the food is the same as Indian cuisine. Yes, we don’t deny the prevalence of Indian cuisine and restaurants in the country but Nepali food is so much more with a unique blend of tastes from Tibet, south-east Asia and from within the country itself. So here are my five favorites from the land of Himalayas that you can happily divulge into if you happen to find yourself there. And no, this list doesn’t have momos.
If you visit Nepal and not eat this bottomless value meal at least once a day, you can consider your visit incomplete and go back to grab some of it. Very much similar to its Indian counterpart the “thalis” in terms of looks, it is completely different in taste and comes with a variety of vegetable curry or meat curry and some tangy spicy achaar that’s definitely going to tingle your taste buds. Dal-bhat-tarkari is what an average daily meal looks like in every nepali household and is a must-try. However, be careful about the level of spiciness. You might not want to spend your holiday in a washroom.
2. Sel roti-aloo ko achaar
This one is a distant cousin of doughnut if I may dare say so. The difference being sel-roti is made up of rice flour instead of wheat flour and we serve it mostly with a savory, spicy potato salad to get that perfect balance of sweet and salty. PSA: please don’t ask the waiter for a potato salad or you’ll definitely be laughed at. I only put it that way for general understanding. You can learn how to say aloo ko achaar or just take a nepali friend along for convenience. For a sweeter variation, you can also have sel-roti with chiya (tea). It will never fail you!
Meat strips lathered with salt, pepper, cumin and lots of chilli powder and sun dried. The mere thought of sukuti makes my mouth water more than the Niagara Falls. But jokes aside, you can’t miss sadheko sukuti with locally brewed alcohol. And the best part, they also come packaged if you wanna carry some back along with you.
This is my personal favorite breakfast or mid-day snack. Gwaramari literally translated means a round bread. Simply pair them with a nicely brewed milk tea and you’re good to go. For a tea enthusiast, nothing beats this combo cause unlike usual bread gwaramari is relatively small, tastes amazing and you’ll still be left with some tea to enjoy since it won’t absorb all the tea while dipping.
5. Newari khaja
Where do I even begin on this one. Newari food is hands down the best you will have in Nepal. An assortment of different spicy, tangy, mouth-watering, meaty dishes and chhyang (traditional rice wine) to gulp it down. You could never go wrong with it. Some personal favorites and I’d say must have items in Newari cuisine are chatamari, bara, chhoila, pangra and aalu tama. And do not, I repeat do not, forget to order chhyang.
Well, these were my very difficultly picked top 5 favorite Nepali food. There are more and I’d probably write about them some other time. But for now if you happen to find yourself in my beautiful country, please get over momos and enjoy all the variety that is Nepali food.
That’s all of my rant for today.