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Nepalese food and drink

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You’ll never really know a country until you know its food, and for many people it is one of the highlights of experiencing Nepali culture. The average person spends almost 6% of their entire lives eating food, and the percentage probably increases on vacation, so it’s important to be prepared!

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What do Nepalis eat?

The staple Nepali meal is the famous Dal Bhat, made up of dal (lentil soup), bhat (boiled rice) and tarkari (curried vegetables), usually served with achar (pickle) or chillies and a roti. Curried meats are also a popular accompaniment. You’ll find huge variations in flavour across the different regions and ethnic groups, such as Thakali and Newari cuisines, but it’ll always be tasty and plentiful.

Nepali cuisine has been noticeably influenced by neighbouring India and Tibet, and whilst the Indian connection is obvious, you may not know that Tibet gave us the Momo! Usually eaten as a snack or lunchtime meal, these fried or steamed dumplings are incredibly popular and come with all kinds of fillings. You can also enjoy Momo Cha, a Nepali speciality of momos in a spicy soup. You shouldn’t leave Nepal without trying one (or twenty!).

Regional dishes?

As you travel around Nepal, you’ll find unique dishes and cooking techniques evolved over centuries. You’ll find delicious soups, tasty meat dishes and fresh fish curries across Nepal’s diverse regions, whilst Himalayan communities are famed for noodles, butter tea and yak cheese.

Is Nepal good for vegetarians and vegans?

Very much so, in fact the majority of Nepali cuisine is vegetarian or vegan. Meat dishes are easily avoided.

What if I don’t like curry?

Nepalese cuisine has undergone a food revolution in recent years, and in Kathmandu you’ll find restaurants serving food from across the world. In rural areas the options are more limited, of course, but Nepalis are very accommodating and will go out of their way to serve something which suits your tastes.

Do Nepalis drink alcohol?

Yes, alcohol has been a part of Nepalese culture for centuries, primarily taken during celebrations and ceremonies. The most common spirit you’ll come across is called Raksi, which is brewed in homes across the country and comes in many varieties. Similar in taste to Japanese sake, it also packs quite a punch, so go easy!

Elsewhere, you’ll find local specialities such as Aila, Marpha Brandy and Khuhuri Rum, whilst during winter months you can enjoy a warm cup of Jhaikhatte, Tongba or Chhyang to help send you off to sleep.

If that all sounds a little heavy for you, then you can enjoy a nice cold beer instead. Everest, Nepal Ice and Gorka are lager-style beers widely available throughout the country, whilst craft beer fans can try the microbrews made by Kathmandu’s Sherpa Brewery.

There’s also a growing wine scene, and although the local wines differ in taste from what you might be used to, they’re well worth trying. You’ll also find plenty of imported wines and beers throughout Nepal’s bars and restaurants, especially in tourist areas.

Is alcohol expensive?

As a general rule, alcohol is quite reasonably priced in Nepal. You should expect to pay the equivalent of about 2-3 USD for a local beer, but this might be more in some tourist areas. If you’re brave enough to try some of the local spirits, then you’ll find that these are surprisingly cheap (and your hosts will often offer you some free of charge!).

Of course, anything imported from abroad comes at a higher cost.

Is the water safe to drink?

We don’t generally recommend drinking tap water in Nepal, so it’s a good idea to bring purification tablets and a refillable bottle with you. Most good hotels can will provide purified water for you to top up your supply.

Bottled water is relatively inexpensive and widely available, but of course this isn’t great for our environment, so please refill if you can.

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