Traditional Nepalese food & tourist Nepalese food
I really enjoy eating in Nepal. I write that as if Nepal is a local restaurant I’m reviewing rather than a country with a national cuisine for good reason. Nepal is one of the most economically depressed countries in the world. And like many countries suffering from economic problems the real traditional local food is very basic.
Yet the irony is that due to Nepal’s number one industry, tourism, there is a huge and diverse range of international food on offer.
Welcome to a new series of Food in Nepal
Like many things on this website I will not be bringing you the glossy shiny make-believe world of brochure tourism. I’m going to show you the real world of what food is like in Nepal from many perspectives.
I’ll be covering Traditional Nepalese food, Tibetan Nepalese food, Indian Nepalese food, and tourist Nepalese food. I’ll tag each dish with one or more of those terms so you’ll know the difference.
Understanding food in Nepal
Nepal is quite culturally diverse for a nation of its size.
Aside from the huge North Indian influence and Tibetan influence there are also variations on Nepalese cuisine within the various indigenous populations within Nepal itself. Add in international tourist food and what you once thought was a hash brown, pizza or naan bread is not quite what you might be used to.
During my time in Nepal I’ve been served the same meal in different locations and each meal has ranged from mildly different to a completely different dish altogether. So expect the unexpected with this series about what the food is like in Nepal!
What’s breakfast like in Nepal?
For the average Nepalese person breakfast is Chai a hot milky tea that’s also common place in India. Rice or a rice porridge is also quite common place among laborers as the working day starts early.
For the average tourist breakfast can range from banana pancakes to slap up plates of bacon, eggs, baked beans, hash browns, toast, butter, juice and filtered coffee. Muesli and curd. Fresh fruit salad. Or a mix of all these things.
What do I eat for breakfast in Nepal? I usually have muesli curd as they are the two ingredients that are lacking in South East Asia that I missed the most.
What’s lunch like in Nepal
For the average Nepalese person lunch is Dal bhat. Dal is a lentil soup and bhat is rice. Generally speaking this is not the Dal bhat most tourists see or eat. This is a really simple version. And yes I’ll be covering Dal bhat very soon.
The average tourist lunch in Nepal can be anything from toasted sandwiches to hamburgers or various curries to tandoori with naan bread.
I expect some fallout and the odd jibe from many food purists during this series. Bring it on. The reality of food in Nepal is it’s now more widely diverse than many other developing countries in the world. Again, from a tourists perspective. Or, wealth Nepalese person.
What do I eat for lunch in Nepal? I usually go for either Dal bhat or chicken momo’s steamed. The Dal bhat I eat is slightly more touristy than the local kind in that I get papad, fresh vegetables and or meat if I want it.
The momos I eat are from a local restaurant that serves Neplese people and the odd stray hippie that finds their way in. They taste like tourist momo’s but are not as heavy as real local momos. And in case you haven’t guessed I’m a huge fan of momos. What’s a momo? Stay tuned.
What’s Dinner like in Nepal?
For the average Nepalese person dinner is … Dal Bhat. Yes, welcome to the stable diet of the average Nepalese person. Dal Bhat is eaten for the two main meals a day by most Nepalese people. However it must be said big city people are now diversifying their diet. But Dal Bhat still reigns supreme.
What do I eat for dinner in Nepal?
I try to eat lighter at night in Nepal as the food here can be quite heavy. Curries or paneer’s with naan are a stable. But I do like the two dollar Mexican steak in Kathmandu. Yes it’s really two US dollars. Well, actually not at the moment as it’s peak season but the waiter still charges me $2. It’s laden with cheese and comes with fries or boiled potatoes accompanied by a Nepalese version of chili sauce with vegetables. It’s not huge, but it’s good.
What is there to drink in Nepal?
Bottled water is abundant and safe. Soft drinks are everywhere. Lassi’s are very popular and exceptionally good. Fruit juices are easy to come by too however I’m not a huge fan of Nepalese fruit juices as they are very watery. Personally I enjoy the soda water with fresh lemon here.
Is the food safe to eat in Nepal?
This one always makes me laugh. I’ve met expats here who shudder at the mere thought of eating Nepalese food. They go berserk with the hygiene levels and have copious toilet tales. Having said that I’ve also met some locals who refuse to eat at certain popular local establishments.
Are they all paranoid?
Not really. The truth is very few people escape Nepal without having at least one or two days of dodgy stomach. I didn’t go trekking until I had at least two days of bad stomach on purpose. I went straight to the curry house and got it over with when I arrived. After that I haven’t had a bad stomach.
So yes those samosas sitting on the side of the road in glass boxes really should be avoided by all but the most sadistic of individuals. Whilst generally speaking unless you have a very vulnerable digestive system you should be okay so long as you take basic precautions and eat in popular places.
I did write this up which might help a few people What happens when you get food poisoning in Asia?
What’s the food like in Nepal?
Curious about some of the food I mentioned above? Don’t worry I’ll be covering them all soon!
Nepal is one of my favorite places in the world to eat. Nepalese chefs are extremely talented and can cook some incredible dishes. I’ve met with many of them and quite honestly all you have to do is hand them a photo of a dish and they can make it. The more experienced will want to know the ingredients. But yes, many are that good and I expect the issue of not all food being the same is down to literacy and not capability.
Nepalese food is generally heavy food that’s extremely fresh. Go into the villages and the food you will be eating wasn’t just picked that morning but rather less than an hour ago.
In this series I hope to show you what you can really expect to be eating should you ever visit Nepal.
From traditional dishes to great attempts at international cuisine. Get ready for some great food from Nepal!
This is an additional post featuring food from Nepal
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