The Nepal dining experience is as diverse, unique, and inviting as the people of the country. The food in Nepal is also fairly easy to cook. The many tempting dishes found are well known for being extremely nutritious and hearty, and have been eaten similarly throughout the country's history. Even though much of the Nepali cuisine is considered fairly basic, there is no sacrifice in flavor. Nepalese people use a large array of tasty spices and other savory ingredients such as garlic, coriander, ginger, chilies, cumin, pepper, and cilantro. Yak butter, ghee, and mustard oil are other typical spices used in many of the national dishes.
Nepal has its own eating habits unique to the region, but practiced by many other nearby countries. The main meals, generally eaten twice daily, almost always consist of bhaat, daal, and tarkari. Bhaat is steamed rice that is paired with the soupy dish called daal. Daal, which is eaten in many south Asian countries, is a spicy lentil soup made with split red lentils, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chili powder, oil, and salt. The daal is poured over top of the rice and eaten. Tarkari is the name for all vegetable dishes prepared in a little bit of water, just enough to cook the vegetables through, and spiced with many of the same spice ingredients as the daal itself. Tarkari is cooked with a variety of spices easily accessible in Nepal including turmeric, garlic, ginger, coriander, salt and chilies.These three foods comprise the staple meal eaten in Nepal.
Though these staples are always eaten in lower lying areas, they are generally eaten by most Nepalese and is found in almost all Nepal restaurants. Outside the lower lying geographical areas—where these dishes are often the only food in a meal—this combination of food in Nepal is more often paired with a range of other regional dishes.
Though it may all sound like it tastes similarly, different cooking times and spice combinations create a surprisingly large number of differently flavored meals. Most Nepalese people eat with their hands. Once the daal is spilled over the rice, the vegetables and daal are formed into a ball that is then easily eaten. In most Nepal dining establishments serving locals, tourists will see this ancient practice while eating a meal. The bhaat-daal-tarkari combo is a very affordable and filling meal to eat when visiting the country. It is what most trekkers hiking in the Himalayas or the Annapurna Circuit eat.
The best places to find international cuisine when visiting Nepal are in Kathmandu and Pokhara. These two cities also offer many different things to do and plenty of annual events to enjoy. When exploring Nepal restaurants in bigger cities, visitors will find Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Italian, and Indian food. Newari cuisine is also not to be missed when visiting Kathmandu. The Newaris originally settled the Kathmandu Valley and have a rich past full of culinary art. There is a wide array of food in Nepal that is meatless. Vegetarians shouldn't find it too difficult to find an assortment of delicious choices. With Nepal being a Hindu Kingdom, beef is rigidly prohibited among Buddhists and Hindus, which make up a large percentage of the population.
There are many other popular dishes found in Nepal restaurants that illustrate what the food is like. Gundrook-Dheedo is almost as popular as the bhaat-daal and consists of wheat, maize, and dried green vegetables. Fried Nepali rice is another sure bet, spiced with cumin and turmeric and eaten along with many other dishes. Alu tama is a classic curried dish made with potato bamboo shoots, and a dish unique to the region. Curried mutton, chicken, pork and buffalo covered in gravy and eaten over rice doesn't get past meat eaters and is a dish found throughout the country.
Anyone missing pizza during Nepal vacations should definitely try the chatamari, a Newari meal made from flat bread and served with meat and vegetables. Stick to bottled water wherever you go in Nepal and be sure to try an assortment of Nepal dining options to further expand your culinary experience. When looking for where to eat in Nepal, choose restaurants and hotels that are frequented by locals and stay away from empty eateries.