Regional Variations, Specialties, & Unique Dishes
Aloo Tama: bamboo shoots prepared with potatoes and served
in a spicy curry
Chatamari: naan topped with meat, vegetables, eggs, and
Gundrook-Dheedo: wheat, corn, and vegetables
Masu: meat with a spicy curry served over rice
Momo: meat dumplings often similar to Chinese dumplings,
but with Indian spices or sauces
Pulao/Pilaf: rice fried with turmeric, cumin and vegetables
Thukpa: a specially seasoned soup with noodles, vegetables,
and often chicken
Before eating in Nepal, you should be aware of some dining
commonalities between the Hindus and Buddhists, as most of the people in Nepal adhere
to one of these religions. Fortunately, most of these rules pertain to foods that
can or cannot be consumed and if eating in the home of a local they simply will
not have foods that are forbidden by their religion. If dining out though, be sure
to avoid ordering foods your local hosts won't eat. Hindis don't eat beef,
while many Hindus and Buddhists are vegetarian so to be safe, order chicken or fish
and to be extremely cautious order a vegetarian meal.
You should dress conservatively, meaning your arms and legs should be covered. You
should also arrive on time (although food might not be served for a couple hours)
and take your shoes off at the door if others do so.
You will likely be asked to wash your hands prior to eating, but sometimes a wash
basin is passed around the table so follow the lead of others and let your host
show you a seat, which may be on the floor. When seated, be sure to avoid pointing
the bottom of your feet at anyone so keep your feet flat on the floor or pointed
You should try all the foods your host recommends and in some settings this may
be a huge number of foods, but take much more rice than anything else as this is
meant to be the base. You should also accept more food when offered so try your
best to take limited quantities of food at first (a challenge on many occasions).
If you take your own food, be sure to avoid touching your plate with the serving
spoons as this is considered unclean. Once you have food you may notice there are
no utensils (cutlery); this is because you are expected to eat with your right hand
and right hand only as the left is considered unclean. You may use naan
or rice to scoop the food or to soak up the sauce.
As you finish eating, leave some food on your plate to signify your host has provided
more than enough food. If dining in a restaurant the inviter is expected to pay
for everyone present. Tipping is not common nor is it expected in
Nepal and rarely to never will you encounter a service charge.
Celebrations & Events
Nepal has a growing tradition of local festivals, defined
by foods. No matter the festival or occasion, certain foods have become almost synonymous
with festivals and celebrations. First among these foods is sel roti, which
is a round rice bread most closely associated with the Hindu festival of Tihar,
but eaten at other festivals as well. Other popular festival foods include sekuwa,
which is goat meat, rice dishes, and more.
Like much of the region, the drink of choice in Nepal is tea.
The version can differ though as both standard black tea with milk and sugar as
well as salted butter tea can be found. Juices and dairy products are also popular
beverages, although the juices tend to be very sweet. Soft drinks and coffee are
easy to find in any city as well as in some towns and along all major hiking trails
Alcoholic beverages include all the international favorites when you're in a
hotel, however in small towns and if you're out and about in a city the selection
is limited. However in these out of the way places (especially in the mountains)
you'll more likely have the opportunity to try local alcohols like tongba
or rakshi, which are both fermented from millet or jard, which
is a beer-like drink made from rice.
The tap water is generally not safe to drink in Nepal, but
in some mountainous areas it might be safe. The most cautious course of action is
to entirely avoid the tap water and items that could be made from or with the water,
such as ice, fruits, and salads. If you do decide to drink the local tap water first
check with your local hotel or guesthouse to learn the cleanliness of the water
in that area. If the water is safe, remember that many people may have trouble adjusting
to the local tap water as it will most certainly be different from what your system
is used to if you are not from the region.