What do you eat in Nepal? typical dishes, advice and curiosities on Nepali cuisine

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Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Nepalese cuisine comes from a mix of Indian and Newari influences with the addition of Tibetan and Asian specialties. While in Kathmandu and Pokhara you can taste many dishes, the further you go inland or along the mountain villages, the more the choice will be reduced. Mainly the recipes come from two ethnic groups, one is the Newari one, which has a rather varied and refined cuisine based on different vegetables grown in the Kathmandu Valley and also includes the use of meat. The other population from which some dishes derive is the Thakali, an ethnic group that lives mainly in the Thak-Khola valley, and has a cuisine that mixes Himalayan traditions with those of the plains using raw materials such as yak, sheep and different types of cereals.

Let's find out together then what you eat in Nepal: typical dishes, tips and curiosities of Nepalese cuisine!


  1. 10 Typical dishes of Nepal
  2. Typical sweets of Nepal
  3. Drinks and liqueurs: what do you drink in Nepal
  4. Tips and trivia: where to eat and what to avoid
  5. User questions and comments

10 Typical dishes of Nepal

1 - Daal bhaat tarkari

Il typical Nepali dish par excellence is the daal bhaat tarkari a lentil soup with rice and curried vegetables. It is also possible to request the addition of achar, pickles, dahi (curd or yogurt) or papad (lentil flour pancake).

This dish should be eaten strictly with the right hand forming balls after pouring the soup over the rice.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 3,00
  • Main ingredients: lentils, curry, rice, spices

2 - Momo

Another dish readily available in Nepal are momo, i rice pasta ravioli stuffed with buffalo meat (the cow is not eaten because it is considered sacred) but also stuffed with chicken, vegetables, eggs or cheese, strictly spiced and usually steamed.

They are found almost everywhere from street stalls to bars and restaurants and every family has their own recipe.

  • Recommended to: lunch, dinner, snack
  • Average cost: € 2,00 5 pieces
  • Main ingredients: rice pasta, meat, vegetables, cumin, garlic, cabbage

3 - Thukpa

This dish is found almost everywhere but it is typical of cold areas of Nepal.

It is a soup made from long noodles, here called thuk, and broth made from yak or chicken meat, vegetables such as carrots and cabbage and chilli. It is rather a dish spicy and tasty specially created to warm up after strenuous trekking or in the cold Himalayan winters.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 1,50
  • Main ingredients: rice noodles, vegetables, meat, chilli

4 - Gundrook-Dheedo

A dish much loved by locals and vegetarian tourists it is this polenta made with wheat and corn that is accompanied by fermented and stewed leafy vegetables.

Being a food very energetic and nutritious, it is a dish often served in the mountains for refreshment after long treks.

  • Recommended to: dinner
  • Average cost: € 1,50
  • Main ingredients: wheat, corn and vegetable flour

5 - Chatamari

This dish comes from from the Newari tradition and it is a kind of rice crepe that is grilled immediately before consumption and stuffed with vegetables, meat, eggs and spices.

Although originally it was a dish from serve on holidays, today it is consumed mainly for breakfast and is called Nepalese pizza.

  • Recommended to: Breakfast
  • Average cost: € 1,00
  • Main ingredients: rice flour, vegetables, meat

6 - Sel Roti

Sel roti is a fried bread with a circular shape similar to that of American bagels, but it is prepared with rice flour which makes it soft, slightly sweet on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

It goes well with yogurt, vegetables and cheeses but often for Nepalese it is a snack to eat alone. It is found almost everywhere, in street food stalls, restaurants and bakeries.

  • Recommended to: always
  • Average cost: € 0,20
  • Main ingredients: rice flour, water

7 - Maas Ko Bara

One of the most popular street foods in Nepal they are the Maas ko Bara, round pancakes made with lentils and masala which are then fried in oil.

Usually in street stalls they are ready but heated on a plate before being served e covered with eggs and minced meat with mint.

  • Recommended to: snack
  • Average cost: € 0,20
  • Main ingredients: lentils, masala, eggs, meat, mint

8 - Sidhara

This dish is typical of the Terai region and is often consumed by indigenous peoples such as the Tharus, Danuwars and Musahars.

It is prepared with taro stalks (a plant similar to potato), turmeric and dried fish which give the dish apungent aroma and a bitter taste.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: € 3,00
  • Main ingredients: taro, turmeric, dried fish

9 - Gorkkali Lamb

Another dish typical of mountain areas, is served to reheat from the cold and is a dish consisting of lamb that is cooked in curry for hours.

It is usually accompanied by potatoes, onions and rice that make it a full meal. A similar but mutton-based version is Masu ledo.

  • Recommended to: Lunch or dinner
  • Average cost: € 5,00
  • Main ingredients: lamb, curry, potatoes, onions, rice

10 - Aloo Tama

A very dish loved and consumed by locals and vegetarian tourists is Aloo Tama, a savory curry made from potatoes stewed with bamboo and beans.

It is a protein dish cooked with raw materials that are also found in the most remote villages of Nepal.

  • Recommended to: Lunch Dinner
  • Average cost: 200 rupees (€ 1,50)
  • Main ingredients: potatoes, curry, bamboo, beans

Typical sweets of Nepal

Nepalese, like their Indian "cousins", are crazy about desserts which are always pretty sticky and extremely sweet, made mostly of milk, unrefined sugar and nuts. Here are the ones that you can taste and easily find in the street stalls, in the "tea rooms" and in the restaurants:

1 - Yomari

Served at the end of a meal and on holidays, this dessert has it shape of a fish.

It is a ravioli prepared with rice flour, stuffed with sweet jam called chaku or chocolate and then steamed.

  • Average cost: € 1,00
  • Main ingredients: flour, rice, jam or chocolate

2 - Sikarni

This very simple dessert is one of the most traditional and loved by the Nepalese population.

It is found almost everywhere, especially in the Kathmandu Valley, and is based on yogurt whipped with cinnamon, sugar, cardamom, cloves, nuts and dried fruit.

  • Average cost: € 1,00
  • Main ingredients: yogurt, cinnamon, cardamom, sugar, dried fruit

3 - Kheer

Kheer is a typical Neaplese and Indian dessert there are several versions which differ from the region in which it is prepared.

And in any case a rice pudding which can be cooked with condensed milk rather than fresh milk in which whole or chopped basmati rice and cardamom berries are boiled. It is served cold and can be enriched with saffron, raisins and other dried fruit.

  • Average cost: € 1,50
  • Main ingredients: rice, milk, cardamom, sugar

4 - Juju dhau

Widespread almost everywhere in Nepal, Bhaktapur's Juju Dhau is the best you can taste. This dessert may look like plain yogurt but it's actually the king of yogurt, thick and creamy.

It is made with buffalo milk boiled with cloves, cardamom, cashew and coconut flakes. Once poured into the characteristic terracotta bowl lactic ferments are added.

  • Average cost: € 1,50
  • Main ingredients: buffalo milk, cloves, cardamom, cashews, coconut

Drinks and liqueurs: what do you drink in Nepal

In Nepal the rule is not to drink water; this does not mean that you should only hydrate with alcohol, on the contrary, the Nepalese in reality they consume a lot of tea prepared in different variations and boiled everywhere. However there are also other typical drinks. Here are the main ones:

1 - Masala tea

Il true nepalese chiya o Masala tea is a hot drink that is prepared by boiling black tea leaves, milk, sugar and various spices such as cardamom and cinnamon in water.

Along the Nepalese roads and in the mountain paths you will find always banquets who serve this drink for a few rupees.

  • Average cost: € 0,20
  • Main ingredients: water, milk, tea, spices, sugar

2 - Lassi

This drink, which has Indian influences, is refreshing and fresh and is often consumed on hot and sultry days to hydrate.

It's a kind of smoothie prepared with curd or yogurt, sugar, fruit and water. But be careful because the water is not always sterilized and the risk is to run into stomach problems.

  • Average cost: € 0,50
  • Main ingredients: yogurt, water, sugar, fruit

3 - Nepalese beer

Nepal is a great beer production, which has a pleasant taste and is particularly thirst-quenching.

The country produces Carlsberg, Tuborg and San Miguel, but i local brands they are the excellent Sherpa, Gorkha, Everest and Kathamndu Beer.

  • Average cost: € 1,00
  • Main ingredients: malt

4 - Rakshi

This alcoholic beverage very popular is a distilled rice wine typical of Nepal, India and Tibet.

It often comes homemade using millet or rice and the result is a strong, clear drink like vodka or gin, with a taste somewhat similar to Japanese sake. It is drunk by the local population during the holidays or in the evening at the end of a meal.

  • Average cost: € 2,00 per glass
  • Main ingredients: rice or millet

Tips and trivia: where to eat and what to avoid

Kathamndu and Pokhara boast numerous premises where to taste Nepali cuisine, but also where international dishes are served.

in typical newari restaurantsinstead, you can taste recipes based on animal parts never heard of such as jan-la, a raw steak with skin attached, ti-syah, fried spinal cord or swan puka, the lung stuffed into the trachea with a spicy filling.

In larger towns, then you can also sit in the Misthan bhandar, bakeries and snack bars serving sweets, tea and vegetarian snacks.

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