Nepal Food and Drink

Sandwiched between India and China, Nepal’s cuisine is heavily influenced by its neighbours – although dishes tend to be simpler and less varied.

Meals are typically spicy and meaty, although that’s not to say you can’t find good vegetarian cuisine. Indeed, the national dish is dal bhat (lentil curry), which, like most dishes, is accompanied with rice and thin pancake-like bread known as chapatti.

Nepal’s unreliable electricity supply restricts the ability to refrigerate produce, which, perversely, has a positive effect because it means most food is prepared to order.

Adventurous gastronomes should venture into the markets to sample fresh fruits including umpteen varieties of bananas, which are some of the sweetest you’ll ever taste.

At the higher end of the market, Kathmandu has developed an international culinary scene where diners can find dishes from all over the world. Chefs artistically prepare five-star menus, and food competitions have aimed to encourage budding restauranteurs.

Bakeries and cafés are scattered around tourist towns, where patrons can quaff Nepali tea (ask for it kaalo [black] or with chini [sugar]).

Specialities

• Dal bhat (lentils and rice)

• Tarkari (spiced vegetables)

• Thukpha (Tibetan stew of noodles and meat)

• Rotis (flat pancake-like bread made from wheat or rice flour)

• Chapatti (similar to roti but thinner)

• Choyla (diced and roasted water buffalo, spiced and eaten with rice)

Cel roti (Nepali equivalent of a donut; circular, fried dough)

Pani puri (round pastries filled with spices, potatoes, and water)

Momos (handmade dumplings filled with meat or veggies; order them friend or steamed)

Things to know

It is considered rude to eat with your left hand. Utensils are provided in most tourist destinations, but locals still eat with their hands. Bring your own water bottle to be eco-conscious or buy bottled for cheap on the street.

Tipping

Only expected in tourist hotels and restaurants; 10% is sufficient.

Regional drinks

• Chai (tea brewed with milk, sugar and spices)

• Butter tea (popular among Tibetan cultures; the combination of salt, butter, and hot water)

• Lassi (curd mixed with sugar in a mixture of sweet and salty flavours)

• Raksi (wheat or rice alcohol)

Chang (homebrewed beer made from fermented barley, maize, rye or millet)

Drinking age

21, although that’s not strictly enforced – you’ll never be asked for an ID at a bar.

Newsletter