As we have seen, Nepalese culture is as diverse as its landscape. Food is usually nutritious, tasty and varied. Nepalese food is influenced by many different cultures and this is reflected in what they eat. There are many Asian themes within Nepalese cuisine including Tibetan, Indian and Thai origins.
There are many ethnic groups who come with their own special meals and recipes too. Some are shared more widely, while some are not.
Nepalese eating habits are quite simple with a main meal eaten twice a day. This is usually Dhal Bhat and this is eaten from between 7am in the morning and 10am. Shortly after sunset they have their evening meal between 6pm and 7pm.
Snacking is in between the two main meals, and rather than the unhealthy snacks Westerners are accustomed to, Nepalese snacks are much healthier. They include bread, rice, curried vegetables, milked tea and bread. Chatamari is a rice flour flat bread cooked over heat with a variety of toppings including minced meat, vegetables, egg, sugar or sometimes with no toppings at all. Choyla is another favourite and this is a grilled roasted spice of Newari origin. There is also a soup known as Kwati made from a variety of beans, it’s usually eaten during festival time. With these delicious snacks and appetizers no one goes hungry between to the two main meals of the day.
Nepalese eat with their right hand, though in restaurants and cafes and with the younger generation, cutlery is normally used. Food is usually served on a simple metal plate that is split into two sections, these are known as “thal,” when Dal Bhat is eaten the Dal soup is poured over rice and the meal is eaten in chunks with the fingers. Tarkari or Achar is added for extra taste.
You may be wondering, what exactly is a Dal Bhat, if you haven’t already worked it out for yourself, the Dal is a soup made from lentils, chillies and spices. The Bhat is soft boiled rice. This forms a staple diet for Nepalese people and as we have seen, is eaten twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
There are too many main dishes to mention here, however, we will look at a few just to see the interesting meals that are served as well as the Dal Baht, at special occasions and during festivals.
This consists of bamboo shoots and potato
This consists largely of spinach and mustard leaves.
This has potatoes, onions, ghee, herbs, green chillies, garlic and cumin. All the ingredients are fried on a low heat.
This is a vegetable curry that is made into a broth.
Just like we have our ketchup and mayo, Nepalese have their relishes to accompany meals; however they are far more interesting.
Achar is a soup with spices or pickle. They can also be made with tomatoes, radish and coriander, and is usually served with rice or potatoes.
This is a traditional Newari relish that is extremely hot and spicy. It’s also quite salty and is made from fish soup.
Nepalese desserts are a lot simpler than western desserts and don’t contain the high sugar and fat contents that we eat. They usually consist of yoghurts or curds, Dahi is one example and Juju Dhau is a more creamy curd originating from Bhaktapur. Finally, Sikarni, another curd, but this time made with dried fruits.
As you can see the Nepalese have a varied and healthy diet consisting of vegetables, meat and rice. This is flavoured with spices and accompanied by tasty homemade relishes and served with a variety of breads. In many ways it is a diet that we could all learn something from.