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Gillian Jones guest bloggerNepalese food

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.

Snacks

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.

Eating habits

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.

Dal Bhat

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.

Main dishes

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.

nepal trek to everest base camp tours pillowAloo Tama

This consists of bamboo shoots and potato

Sag

This consists largely of spinach and mustard leaves.

Alu Tareko

This has potatoes, onions, ghee, herbs, green chillies, garlic and cumin. All the ingredients are fried on a low heat.

Tarkari

This is a vegetable curry that is made into a broth.

Relishes

Just like we have our ketchup and mayo, Nepalese have their relishes to accompany meals; however they are far more interesting. 

Achar

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.

Sanya Kuna

This is a traditional Newari relish that is extremely hot and spicy. It’s also quite salty and is made from fish soup.

Desserts

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.

 

Gillian Jones guest bloggerNepal

Nepal is a fascinating country with a rich environment of tropical savannas, lush forests and grassy mountains with ice and snow at the very highest peak. This country’s dynamic landscape and environment is matched by its culture, which is as dramatic as the forests and mountains that surround it. There are nearly 40 ethnic groups in Nepal with a rich variety of music and religion that makes this country a truly fascinating place. It is a mostly Hindu population with just under 100% of the population adhering to it.

Music 

nepal trek to everest base camp tours pillowNepalese music takes in a vast range of influences – religious, classical, and more contemporary sounds. The diverse range of music here mirrors the culture with its lyrics and melodies. Nepalese music takes its influences from Tibet and Hindustan. There are various musician castes here with the Gaine, the Damai and the Newars, these are the best known in Nepal and play mostly classical and folk. Any event, no matter how large or small will have music by the Newars. Nepal has a wide variety of musical instruments not found outside of this region and all contribute to the unique sound of Nepalese music.

Languages

As you can imagine with nearly 40 ethnic groups there is bound to be a diverse range of languages. There are over 100 languages here; the most widely spoken is Nepali.

Nepalese Art

Nepalese art is strongly influenced by religion, and as in other cultures, painting goes back a long way. Painting and sculptures usually feature images of gods and goddesses; they were painted on to manuscripts which were sometimes given to churches or temples for safekeeping.

 Thangka paintings are extremely widespread and are again religious in nature. They consisted of wall paintings or metal sculptures and go back to the 9th century. Older Thangkas are simple in nature, but were replaced in time by the use of bolder colours and portrayed gods in different poses; some even believed that certain Thangkas contained magic.

Nepalese Architecture

The architecture in Nepal is as dramatic as the landscape which is quite breath-taking. The architecture attracts visitors as much as the mountains do. In Bhaktapur there are many structures which draw people to them. There are 3 styles which consist of shupa, shikhara and pagoda. The intricate detailing of Nepalese architecture is astounding and only adds to the beauty and awe of this country. 

Nepal is well known for its beautiful landscapes, mountains, and attracts many visitors here each year for its adventure tours. However, it does have some beautiful cities. We’ve already mentioned Bhaktapur with its mesmerising architecture, but there is also Kathmandu, which is the capital, Patan, Pokhara and Lumbini.

Kathmandu

Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal is an old city held within a valley,its name comes from a large pagoda call the Kasthamandap. Its original name was Kantipur and is nearly 1500 miles above sea level. Kathmandu’s architecture is stunning with old and new sitting side by side, here you will find the government headquarters and it’s also a meeting place where most trekking adventures start before embarking on mountain climbs. Although it has its older elements, it is also a very modern city.

As we’ve seen, Nepal is a complex yet fascinating country, its rich culture expressed through its music, religion, art, architecture, and its dramatic landscapes. This is a brief nosegay of what Nepal has to offer, over the next few weeks and months we will be exploring more about Nepal’s rich culture and landscape.

 

For more information about our adventure tours to Nepal, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India – religion

India is a vast country steeped in spirituality and philosophy; it has a diverse culture hosting several different religions, which by and large, live side by side with each other in peace. Hinduism is the most prevalent with at least 80% of the country’s followers, Buddhism and Jainism follow, both of which were popular as far back as 500BC. Buddhism still continues to be the second most popular religion in India and is split into Diagambaras and Shwetambaras with Jainism also split into two groups; Mahayana and Hinayana. In the 15th century Sikhism was introduced, but today, only a small percentage of Indians are Sikh. The other religions which flourish in smaller concentrations are Zoroastrianism (known as Parsis), Islam and Judaism.

Below is a little more about three of the most popular religions in India today.

Hinduism

Hinduism can be quite complex, but it is mainly the belief in one supreme power that is in all living creatures, plants and animals. The gods and goddesses that are part of the Hindu religion are forms of the same supreme power. All the gods work in tandem to bring balance to the world and to establish peace and happiness.This is a religion that is prevalent in both India and Nepal. It is one of the oldest religions in the world going back thousands of years.

 Hinduism is in some respects quite different from other religions in that it has no founder, no bible or scripture and no agreed set of principles to live by. There have been many famous teachers of Hinduism that have gone on to write many books teaching different philosophies. It is therefore seen more as a way of life, or several religions each with its own philosophy, than as a single religion.

Buddhism

Buddhism started back in 563 BC with the birth of Siddhartha Gotama who was born into royalty. As he became more and more disillusioned with the trappings of wealth he explored various religions and philosophies to find the true answer to happiness. After many years of study he finally found enlightenment in the form of “the middle path.”  Following this he spent the rest of his life teaching his principle ideas on Buddhism until he died at the age of 80.

For some, Buddhism is more philosophy than religion, its core elements teach Buddhists to lead a more moral life, to take responsibility and to be aware of both their thoughts and actions and to work towards becoming wiser over time.

Jainism

Jainism started in the sixth century BC around the same time as Buddhism. The word Jainism comes from the jinas spiritual soldiers, or conquerors who achieved perfection and freedom. There are 24 spiritual leaders amongst the jinas which are known as tirthankaras which means ford makers. They worship sacred images andspeak mantras, which are groups of words meant to have spiritual power; similar mantras are said in both Buddhism and Zoroastrianism.

Jainsfollow a strict diet, they don’t eat meat, root vegetables, garlic or onions, they also don’t believe in harming any living creature including insects. They believe in cultivating knowledge and learning, and the control of bodily passions. The life of a Jains is a mostly peaceful and disciplined life.

These three most popular religions in India all have something in common; something that links them all, and that is an emphasis on self-improvement, empowerment and self-discipline. There is also great emphasis placed on living in peace and harmony. There is something we can all learn from India’s religions, not just from the religions themselves, but the very fact that all these faiths manage to leave in peace and harmony with each other too. 

 

To visit our India tours page, please click here