Nepali food is a dynamic mixture of cuisines from all over the world, as complex as the people who make up this wonderful and mysterious country. To better understand the food, we will first have to take a look at the people. Nepal is a landlocked central Himalayan country in South Asia with an approximate population of 26.7 million people. Nepal is bordered by India on three sides and China to the north. The citizens of Nepal are known as Nepali or Nepalese. Generally speaking, Nepalis do not equate their nationality with ethnicity, but with citizenship and allegiance.
One of the most famous Nepali dishes is the Momo. From the Chinese pot sticker, to the Japanese gyoza and Taiwanese soup dumpling, it seems each Asian country has their version of this tasty and popular snack. It can be made with a wide variety of different fillings. Meats commonly used are pork, chicken, goat and even water buffalo. As with most dished in Nepal, a vegetarian options is almost always available and is generally made from chopped vegetables. Momos can be steamed or fried and are served with a dipping sauce, which is usually tomato based and a little spicy. You’ll find these tasty treats in the homes of the Nepali people, and at just about every restaurant you come by.
Another popular meal in Nepal is called Thali. However, Thali by name simply means plate. Thali is an Indian style meal made up of several dishes served on a platter, many times this is on a beautiful brass platter. Nepalese Thali can consist of Dal (a soup made of lentils and spices), rice, pickles – the variety of Nepali pickles is said to be in the thousands, and a curry (can be mutton, chicken or vegetable and is much lighter than it’s Indian counterpart). The traditional way of eating Thali is with your hand (right hand only, please!). Many restaurants serve their own variation of Thali – generally with a vegetarian and meat option.
Nepali food is surprisingly lighter than the food of its neighbor, India, but retains all of the flavor. Gone are the heavy cream sauces and most dairy in general. The robust spices and fiery chilis remain. Nepali food is an instant favorite for those looking for a fun change of pace.