Food is an inevitable part of our daily life. With the geographical locations and cultural variations, comes the eating culture and food choices in different ways.
Food is an inevitable part of our daily life. With the geographical locations and cultural variations, comes the eating culture and food choices in different ways.
Food is an inevitable part of our daily life. With the geographical locations and cultural variations, comes the eating culture and food choices in different ways. Nepalese food and cuisine are blended with various spices and culinary ingredients to make it delicious, remarkably making it popular worldwide.
The Nepalese dishes are highly influenced by its neighbor countries like India and China, however, it is unique in itself with its own flavour and cooking style.
The most unique and common food in Nepal is Dal Bhat Tarkari (rice lentils). Some unique foods of Nepal include Momo, veggies, cultural treats and various other cuisines. The soups, salads, curries, vegetables, pickles and dairy products are generally included in Nepali cuisine.
Furthermore, with the growing food demands, Nepal now boasts almost every international food choice which include Mexican, Italian, Continental, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Chinese and many others. Kathmandu is not only the major administrative place of Nepal. The cultural feasts, street foods and widely available international cuisines make it a food capital of Nepal.
Food is the beautiful outcome of culture and traditions. The cooking style, recipes, and even the raw vegetable ingredients are highly influenced by the culture. So, it would be very appropriate to say that food is the best way to understand people, their culture and lifestyle along with eating habits.
There is a saying that if you want to explore people, explore their food first. Which truly justifies the eating culture and its linkage to the human habitat.
If you are travelling to the different places of Nepal, you would miss a lot of it if you do not try the local Nepalese food. Nepal is culturally and naturally a diverse nation and along with this diversity, food eating culture and local cuisines are different.
In recent times in 2020, while the world was suffering through the pandemic, Nepal got limelight through the food displayed by Masterchef finalist Santosh Shah. In the UK’s most famous cooking show Masterchef UK, Santosh Shah from Nepal displayed his experiments and experiences to the next level. His effort and food choices from the local kitchen of Nepal gathered a lot of applause from the global audiences. Shah’s work in the competition was highly appreciated, reciting his remarkable effort for putting Nepali food on the world map.
Santosh Shah was the runner up of the Masterchef UK competition. His work on Yomari dumplings stuffed with cashew nuts, chocolates and chilli impressed the judges in the first round. His second dish, chicken curry was announced the best food of the day and his third experiment made him the runner up of the season.
Nepalese food varieties are widely influenced by cultural practices. The regional delicacies and cultural feasts are the best part of Nepali food.
Here, we have provided some general information about Nepalese food that you must try while visiting Nepal.
Name of Food
Katiya, Yangben, Litti Chokha, Kinema, Taruwa, Thekuwa
Khichadi, Aalu Tama, Thakali Thali, Titaura, Gundruk, Samosa, Selroti, Batuk (Deep fried Rice bean Patties), Pokhareli Tusa ko Soup, Momo, Dal Bhat (Marsi, Jetho Budo), Dhindo, Kodo ko Roti, Chowmein
Chwella, Chatamari, Samay Baji, Bara, Yomari
Dhikri, Bagiya, Chichar, Bhakka, Ghonghi, Pakuwa, Gengta, Khariya
Dharane Kalo Bungur, Khasi ko Masu, Bhutan, Pangra, Sekuwa, Taas, Khasi ko Pakku
Masyaura, Kwati, Bhatmas
Kheer (Pudding Rice), Lakhamari, Chhurpi, Gud Pak, Juju Dhau, Malpuwa, Teel ko Laddu, Dhakane
Kakra ko Achar (Cucumber Salad), Lapsi, Chukauni, Aaluko Achaar
Aila, Tongba, Jhaikhatte, Chhyang, Raksi, Thwon
Some of the most common and widely eaten Nepalese food is included here. These foods are a part of the Nepali lifestyle and are very generic to the locals of Nepal.
Dal Bhat or rice lentils is the regular Nepalese food in Nepal. Rice is generally common in lunch and dinner in most parts of the country. The vegetables and lentils may vary with place and season. A complete Nepali Khana set generally includes rice, lentils, vegetables, salad, pickles and dairy items.
The non-veg items are served depending on the eating habit. The rice also varies with place and preferences. Some may use regular rice and some may use special rice such as Marsi, Jetho Budo etc.
Dal Bhat is the most common food in Nepal. It is generally available in every eaterie. Dal Bhat is highly preferred by Nepalese people as their main diet as it is nutritious and healthy.
Khichadi is a widely popular Nepali food. In Khichadi, a mix of rice and lentils is cooked and served with vegetables or pickles. It is usually eaten in winter months as it is rich in vitamins, carbs and protein.
And it is considered to have warm properties and is suitable for winter months. It is also one of the main cuisines of Maghe Sankranti- A Hindu festival celebrated all over Nepal.
Alu Tama is the soup of potato and fermented bamboo shoots. Some peas can be added to the ingredients. This is also widely served in the eateries of Nepal. It is highly nutritious and best eaten with a doughnut or Selroti. It can be found in local eateries.
Thakali Thali is a popular meal in Nepal. There are a lot of Thakali restaurants where the Thakali Meal is served. The Thakali Khana set generally includes locally grown buckwheat, millet, barley, rice, maize, dal, veggies, and pickles. The Thakali khana is the cultural food derived from the ethnolinguistic Thakali people from the mustang region of Nepal.
Titaura is made with various foods. It is one of the popular snacks in Nepal. It is a kind of candy and spicy in taste.
Gundruk is fermented leafy vegetables. It is cooked by adding spices in the fermented vegetables and then eaten with rice or roti. It is served as a side dish with the main meal and is the most popular food in Nepal. Gundruk is rich in minerals and vitamins. The soup of Gundruk and potato is very tasty.
The leafy vegetables such as radish, mustard green, cauliflower leaves etc are fermented by putting it in an earthenware container and then compressed under the soil. After tasting its acidity after a few days, the raw veggies are taken out and dried in sunlight. After the drying process, the veggies are stored safely in a container for future use.
Samosa is also a popular snack in Nepal. It is made by using Maida, Potato, Peas, Onion, Spices, Green chilli, and Cheese. Depending on the preferences, meat can be added to the ingredients. It is usually available in all the eateries in Nepal and can be served as a quick snack.
Sel roti is a traditional ring-shaped Nepali food. With yoghurt, hot beverages and fried vegetables, it can be served. It is prepared by using rice flour, dairy items, sugar etc. and is then fried in oil. In the major Nepalese festivals, Selroti is widely made. It is also offered to god and used to worship during the major festivals such as Dashain, Tihar, Nag Panchami etc.
Batuk is a ring-shaped deep-fried black lentil usually made during festive times. It is a popular homemade delicacy and prepared for auspicious occasions. It can be found in street stalls or local eateries.
Pokhareli Tusa Ko Soup is famous for its mouth-watering taste and nutrition values. The Bamboo shoots are cooked with spices to make soup and eaten in winter months. It is usually found in street stalls and local eateries.
Momo is a steamed dumpling stuffed with minced meat or veggies. It is found all over Nepal and is the most famous food. The dumplings are added with spices and eaten with watery chutney. The chutney accompanied by momo makes it more delicious. Because of its easy availability and wonderful taste, it is popular and admired all over Nepal.
Dhindo is a popular mountain food in Nepal. It is prepared by adding flour to boiling water while stirring. This porridge is prepared by using ground millet. However, other ground flour can be used to make Dhindo. It is unique in taste and eaten with vegetables and pickles. Dhindo is not easily available everywhere but in the mountain region of Nepal, Dhindo is widely eaten. So, it is really easy to find Dhindo. Also, it is one of the must-try foods in Nepal.
Kodo ko Roti is prepared by making a thick batter with water, salt or sugar. This Kodo millet pancake can be eaten as breakfast, lunch or dinner. As a side meal, dairy items, meat, vegetables, pickles and dal can be used with Kodo ko roti.
Chowmein is a stir-fried noodle found in most parts of Nepal. It is eaten as a quick meal and can be found in almost every restaurant. Though Chowmein is a Chinese originated meal, it is one of the most popular dishes in Nepal. From office goers to day snacks for most people, Chowmein is famous.
Newari Foods are popular in the Kathmandu valley as Newars are the inhabitants of the capital. The Newari dishes are rich in spices and taste. Newari foods are also used for cultural and religious purposes. These foods can be found in the local Newari homestays or the Newari restaurants in the Kathmandu valley.
Chwella is spicy grilled buff meat. However, other steaks can be used as ground meat. Choila is prepared by using meat, chillies, ginger paste, turmeric, cumin and coriander. The meat is placed in a grill pan and cooked on medium heat. It is one of the most famous Newari cultural foods in Nepal. During Newari feasts and festivals, Buff Choila is very common. It can be found in the Newari restaurants, local eateries or street stalls in Kathmandu.
Chatamari is a rice flour bread topped with eggs, cheese and veggies. Because of the ingredients used as it is in pizza, it is often known as Nepali pizza. There are a few varieties of Chatamari such as egg Chatamari, keema (minced meat) Chatamari and others depending upon the type of toppings used.
It is also the most famous Newari food and is usually available in Newari restaurants, local eateries and street stalls.
Samay Baji is an authentic Newari dish, widely found in Kathmandu valley. It is religiously linked in the Newari culture and is prepared in homes during auspicious occasions. Generally, the Samay Baji consists of beaten rice, black soybeans, smoked meat, spicy roasted meat, boiled potato achaar, ginger and garlic, pickle and other regular spices. It is available in Newari restaurants and local eateries in Kathmandu valley.
Bara is the traditional Nepali pancake. It is made using black lentil. It is golden brown in colour. Bara can be made by mixing the black lentil with egg and minced meat. It is served with chutney or pickles and soup. Bara is easily available in Newari restaurants and local eateries.
Yomari is a traditional Newari sweet dish. There is a dedicated Newari festival Yomari Punhi: for this delicacy. It has a huge religious and cultural significance in the Newari community. Bara is a steamed dumpling stuffed with Chaku, Khuwa or meat. It can be found in Newari restaurants and in the street stalls.
Tharus are indigenous to the lowlands and Terai region of Nepal. Alongside their unique culture and traditions, they have a very distinct set of eating styles and foods. The Tharus prepare the cultural delicacies during the time of feasts and religious and cultural occasions. These unique foods are also worth a try if you are visiting the lowlands of Nepal.
Dhikri is a popular Tharu cuisine in Nepal. It is made by using rice flour. The rice dough is steamed to make Dhikri. Especially at the time of Maghe Sankranti, Dhikri is made for the celebrations. It has also some religious and cultural significance among the Tharu community. It is also the highly admired Nepalese food in Nepal.
Bagiya is a steamed dumpling made of rice flour and stuffed with sweet delicacies such as Chaku, veggies and other fried items. The external cover is made by rice flour and the inner stuffing is of Chaku and other items. It is one of the most popular Tharu delicacy, widely found in the Terai region of Nepal.
Chichar is another popular delicacy of Tharu community. It is made by using steamed Anadi rice. It is usually prepared during the Tharu festive occasions in the southern plains and lowlands of Nepal.
Bhakka is a fluffy steamed cake made up of rice. It is made during festive occasions such as Maghe Sankranti. It is eaten with pickles, fish sukuti and other Tharu cuisines.
Ghonghi is the snails found in the paddy fields and water streams in the lowlands of Nepal. The snails are boiled and cleaned and then cooked using different spices. It is the much-venerated cuisine of Tharu community and usually prepared during the time of festivals.
Pakuwa is barbequed pork marinated with spices. It is eaten during the time of Maghe Sankranti Festival and is popular among Tharu communities.
Gengta is a crab dish made at special occasions by Tharus. The crabs are cooked with spices and eaten. It is one of the most popular delicacies of Tharu communities in the lowlands of Nepal.
Khariya is another popular rice delicacy of Tharus in Nepal. It is made by rice wrappings and legumes and spices in colocasia leaves and then deep-fried. Black lentils and rice grains are generally used as legumes while making Khariya.
Regional Foods are especially from the eastern and western Nepal’s food selections. The unique cooking style and foods prepared by the locals is amazing and worth a try while visiting these areas. However, some of the foods are available in some parts of the Kathmandu valley in the regional food specialized eateries and restaurants.
Katiya is a popular cuisine in the southern lowlands of Nepal. Katiya is prepared by making mutton curry in clay pots in a coal bed. The regular spices and mutton are added in an earthen pot to make Katiya. It is popular in the Rautahat district of Nepal.
Yangben is the Limbu cultural dish in Nepal. It is one of the most unique foods in Nepal. Yangben is made by cooking pork with edible lichen and spices. It is much loved and admired delicacy in the eastern south hills and Terai of Nepal.
Litti Chokha is made using whole wheat flour with the stuffing of sattu, onion, garlic, green chilli, lemon juice, carom seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, and ghee. It can be eaten as lunch and dinner and is a wonderful delicacy. It is usually eaten in the lowlands and plains of Nepal.
Kinema is a fermented soybean dish, usually found in the eastern mountain region of Nepal. This is a cultural delicacy of Limbu, Sunuwar and Rai people. The soybean fermented item is prepared into a soup. The soup then can be consumed with rice, chapati and other foods as a side food. It is considered as healthy food and can be eaten during ill health.
Taruwa is a kind of appetizer made of vegetables. The deep-fried veggies are mixed with a batter of rice flour or chickpea. It can be eaten as a starter meal during the celebrations and get-togethers. It is popular among Maithili and Tharu communities.
Thekua is a cultural dish of Maithil people in the southern plains of Nepal. It is a sweet dish prepared using wheat flour, ghee, sugar, milk, and spices. It is an important dish for the Chhat festival in the Terai region of Nepal. The cooking style of Thekua is very unique and this cookie shaped bread is rich in taste.
Non-vegetarian foods are widely admired by people who prefer meat items. The below-mentioned non-veg meals can be found in the local restaurants of the Kathmandu valley and worth a try if you are a connoisseur of non-veg items.
Dharane Kalo Bungur is a pork Sekuwa famous for its mouth-watering taste. The roasted pork is eaten with spices and is found in the eastern region of Nepal. It can be found in some street stalls and local restaurants of Kathmandu valley as well.
Khasi ko Masu means mutton. Mutton is the most popular non-veg item in Nepal. Mutton is prepared by cooking the ground meat with various spices. The mouth-watering dishes made using mutton are famous all over the country.
Bhutan is made using mutton. The crispy, stir-fried goat intestines, liver, tripe, heart etc. parts are fired to make Khasi ko Bhutan in Nepal. It is very tasty and eaten all over Nepal by non-vegetarians. Especially during the festive occasions, Bhutan is made with various spices and eaten for celebrations.
The gizzard part of chickens is Pangra. These parts are fried and cooked with various spices. The Pangra is very tasty and eaten all over Nepal. It can be found in Nepali restaurants and local eateries.
Sekuwa is grilled and skewered chicken, pork, lamb, or goat meat. The ground is marinated with spices and grilled in a grill pan. It is then eaten with chutney or pickles. It can be eaten as a side meal with a main meal such as rice. It is also the most popular food in Nepal. You can usually get Sekuwa in restaurants, street eateries and stalls.
Chitwan ko Taas is a meat dish that originated from Chitwan district of Nepal. The ingredients used to make Taas are boneless mutton, coriander & cumin seed, garlic & ginger mix, red chilli pepper, salt, pepper, olive oil etc.
The boneless mutton slices are marinated in spices and cooked in low flame to make Taas. It is one of the most popular and tasty foods in Nepal. Instead of mutton, chicken or pork can be used to make Taas.
Khasi ko Pakku is Goat meat cooked in a low flame. The cubed skinless goat meat is marinated in spices and cooked in low heat for usually a long time to make Khasi ko Pakku. It is a tasty and widely preferred meat in Nepal. It is usually found in local eateries.
Nepal is also popular for vegan dishes. There are a good number of people that prefer vegetarian and vegan meals in Nepal. So, if you are seeking vegan and vegetarian Nepalese food, you can find it easily in the eateries of Kathmandu valley.
Masyaura is the lentil nugget mixed with yam, potatoes, black matpe bean, taro stems, cauliflowers, Wax Gourd, spinach etc. It is usually eaten during winter months and can be used as a vegetable and side meal with rice, chapatis. It is found all over Nepal and is very common among Nepalese people. Because of its easy availability and cooking, it is one of the preferred Nepalese foods.
Kwati is a mix of sprouted beans. It is generally eaten during festival times such as Tihar, Gaura Parva, Guni Punhi etc. Kwati can be used to make soup. The soup of Kwati is said to have health benefits and is widely preferred as breakfast as well. It is also said that Kwati is the best food for women during their maternity leave. It is prepared using different spices and eaten as breakfast or soup.
Bhatmas is known as Soybean in English. It is an appetizer that can be eaten with salad or other side dishes. Because of its gluten-free and vegan properties, Bhatmas is a widely eaten protein-rich food in Nepal.
Sweet Dishes are often eaten as a post-meal dessert. These homemade sweet dishes are a part of the Nepalese lifestyle and these are prepared on auspicious occasions and festival times by a lot of locals.
Kheer is a sweet delicacy used widely in the households of Nepal. It is also a religiously and culturally important dish in Nepal. Kheer is prepared using milk, sweets, coconuts, cashew nuts, rice etc. It is usually prepared on festive occasions. Kheer is one of the most common meals and it can be found almost everywhere in Nepal.
Lakhamari is made using flour, sugar, butter and other spices and ingredients. It is one of the most common sweet delicacies among Newar communities. During feasts and festivals, Lakhamari is made and eaten. This crispy and mouth-watering delicacy can be found in the Newari restaurants in Nepal.
Chhurpi is a traditional milk-based cheese in Nepal. It is usually found in the mountain region. It originated from Tibetan culture and is widely available in Nepal. Chhurpi contains healthy fats and a high level of nutrition. It is hard and eaten as betel nuts, however, soft chhurpi can be found in some places.
Gudpak is a sweet delicacy that is popular among Nepalese. It is also popular among tourists and it is taken for friends and families as a souvenir. Gudpak is made using clarified butter, edible gum, wheat flour, brown sugar, evaporated milk, almond, cardamon, nutmegs, coconuts and pistachios. It is usually available in the sweet shops of Kathmandu valley.
Juju Dhau is a sweet delicacy made from the curd in Nepal. It is the finest yoghurt available in Nepal and is specially made by Newars. The Bhaktapur district of Nepal is popular for Juju Dhau. Juju is the king of Yogurt and is popular for its finest taste. It is made by boiling milk in a clay pot and leaving it to ferment. The creamy texture and sweetness of Juju Dhau are highly admired in Nepal.
It is also used for religious and cultural purposes by Newars of Kathmandu valley. The rich texture and taste of Juju Dhau made are popular among the local people and the visitors. It is usually served in a clay pot and found in the local dairies. The Bhaktapur Durbar Square area is the most popular place to try Juju Dhau in Nepal.
Malpua is a popular dessert in Nepal. It is made from Barley flour and milk, cooked in Ghee and then dipped in Honey. In some places of Nepal, Malpuwa is made using Maida, mashed up bananas, peppercorns, milk and sugar. It is richer in taste and one of the delicious foods to try in Nepal. Malpua is a popular Nepalese food that is found all over Nepal.
Teel ko laddu is made by mixing sesame seeds, ghee and molasses. It is then shaped like a round ball and then left to be hardened. It is eaten especially during Maghe Sankranti in Nepal.
Dhakane is a sweet dish made from Basmati rice. The rice grains, ghee, milk, dry fruits and cardamom powder are used to make Dhakane. It is sweet in taste and eaten as a sweet dish. Dhakane is not appropriate to eat as a dessert because the rice grains used are heavy in terms of the diet.
Homemade pickles in Nepal are eaten as a side meal alongside the main meal such as Rice, tortilla, Sel roti etc. These are spicy and very well blended with the main meal.
Kakara ko Achar is a cucumber salad widely eaten in Nepal. It is prepared during some auspicious occasions and served as a side dish with rice or tortilla. The cucumber is cut in small pieces and then the paste of sesame seeds, salt, turmeric, chilly, cardamon etc. is added and mixed with it. It is easier to prepare and can be found in most parts of the country. It is also a popular Nepalese food.
Lapsi is the pickles found in Kathmandu valley. It is special to Kathmandu because the raw Lapsi tree is widely found and native to Kathmandu.
Chukauni is a potato yoghurt salad and is popular in the western region of Nepal. Boiled potato, Serrano Pepper, finely sliced onion, yoghurt, lime juice, salt, chilli, turmeric powder etc. are finely mixed to make Chukauni. It is then eaten as a side meal and can be used as pickles. Chukauni can be eaten with rice, tortilla, Selroti etc. It is mainly found in western Nepal.
Aalu ko Aachar is potato salad made using sliced boiled potatoes, and a paste of chilli, sesame seeds, salt, turmeric powder, cardamon, etc. The achaar is then eaten with rice, tortilla, Sel roti and other main meals. It is served as a pickle in most parts of the country. It can be found all over Nepal.
Liquors in some cultures of indigenous people is a part of the lifestyle. The locally home-brewed liquors are eaten on auspicious occasions and used for religious and cultural purposes. Some of the most popular local wines in Nepal are enlisted here.
Aila is a Newari beverage widely found in the Newari restaurants of Kathmandu valley. It is prepared by fermenting rice, grains and millet. Aila is not only consumed as liquor but also used for religious offerings in some Newari festivals. It is not commercially brewed and usually made for home purposes. Because of its consuming style, it is sometimes compared to tequila.
Tongba is a millet based beverage in Nepal. It is especially found in the central and eastern mountainous region of the country. It is a kind of hot beer and usually taken during winter months. The Tongba is slightly sweet, mild and a little sour in taste. If you are a food explorer and seeking to try Nepali local beverages, Tongba is a must-try Nepalese food in Nepal.
Jhaikhatte is a kind of liquor coffee best eaten with popcorn, dried spicy meat, spicy peanuts, soy or curry. Jhaikhatte is a typical local Nepali homemade beverage in Nepal.
The unique taste of the local beverage in Nepal is found in Chhyang. Chhyang is a homemade beverage made with rice, water and mold. It can be found all over the country and it is also the cultural drink for some indigenous communities.
Raksi is the strong alcohol-based beverage among all the local beverages in Nepal. It is a drink of indigenous communities in Nepal and widely eaten by the people in local restaurants.
Thwon is a Newari beverage used during the Newari festivities and auspicious occasions. It is brewed locally using rice. It is found widely in the Newari local restaurants of Kathmandu valley.
Marpha brandy is native to the mustang region of Nepal. It is one of the popular Nepali beverages made from a variety of fruits such as apple, pear, apricot etc. It is a very unique brandy that is commercially brewed by using local raw materials in the Marpha village of the mustang region of Nepal.
The national dish of Nepal is Dalbhat. It is popular all over the country. It is also a rich source of carbohydrates, protein and vitamins.
Yes, Nepalese food is perfectly healthy. The combination of various spices and the meal itself is proven to have healthy properties.
Some of the most famous foods in Nepal are Dal bhat, Roti tarkari, Chowmein, MoMo, Dhindo, Kodo ko roti etc.
A lot of foods in Nepal are influenced by India and China. So, we can say that some of the foods have Indian essence in Nepalese culinary and food choices.
Nepalese use spices in their foods. But it’s not a lot of spices. The edible and health-centric spices are used in Nepali food.