Nepal's most distinctive dishes are probably dal bhat (rice and lentils) and the popular momos (dumplings). But Kathmandu has become the food capitalof the world as the international cuisine that is available around the valley is quite impossible to find in any other city. From continental, Italian, Mexican, Russian to Indian, Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Burmese, Thai, Singaporean, Korean, Japanese and even Naga food, you name it, all within a few square miles. Then there are the amazing variety of local cuisine such as Thakali, Newari and food of the ethnic minorities.
There is no better way to understand Nepal and the Nepali people, than through their cuisine. Nepal does not have one distinct cooking style. However, food habits differ depending on the region. Nepali food has been influenced by Indian and Tibetan styles of cooking. Authentic Nepali taste is found in Newari and Thakali cuisines. which are available in a large number of eateries spread all over the valley.
The regular Nepali meal is dal (lentil soup), bhat (boiled rice) and tarkari (curried vegetables), most often accompanied by achar (pickle) or just raw chillie. Curried meat is very popular. Acquired from Tibetans, momos (steamed or fried dumplings) deserve a mention as one of the most popular snack among Nepalis. It is also taken as a whole meal especially by office goers during lunch. Rotis (flat bread) and dhedo (boiled flour) also make meals in some homes especially in rurl areas.
Wherever you go, your trip would be incomplete without getting an opportunity to taste the local cuisine. Nepal is the land of diverse cuisine. The vast number of ethnic groups have their own deicacies depending on the topography and climate of the region. Rice is the major source of energy in the country, and Nepali people love to consume two times a day, as lunch and dinner, on a daily basisi. However, side dishes may vary from lentils to vegetable curries to meat curries to extremely spicy pickle and in the Himalayan region their meals are completely different.
Rice remaining constant, the side dishes bring in a lot of variety to the meals in the Nepali cuisine. Depending upon culture and ethnicity, cooking in the Nepali homes (where the cooks are always the housewife) tend to settle curries with complex spices that she has learned from her mother, which traditionally has been in use for centuries. Nepal's cuisine is mostly, but not all of them, spicy, however on request, spices can be reduced without compromising the taste of the dish.
Newars, indigenous to the Kathmandu Valley, cater the best snacks in the country. Their cuisine makes much use of buffalo meat, however, their vegetable soup, made of potato and bamboo shoot, is something else. They have a large variety of meat dishes using every part of what's availabl like the liver, interstine, lungs etc. They arre especially cooked during feasts but are popular dishes in little eateries where people go to drink and ask for these as snacks.
People of mid-hills of Nepal are renowned for their heavy and delicious lunches. Especially, Thakalis are notable for producing high-grade rice, lentils, vegetables, and curries in the country. Even Kathmandu is filling up with Thakali restaurants. But Pokhara is one of the best palces to try Thakali food if not the trekking routes where they live in the Annapurna region.
The Himalayan cuisine of Nepal is much influenced by Tibetan culture. Exquisite yak cheese of the Himalayan region is notably famous all over the country, and beyond. Butter tea and noodles are also often consumed in this region.
The lowlands of Nepal, Madhesh (Tarai), is the grain producing region of the country. Much of the food and fruits of Nepal are produced in the vast sweltering plains. Tharu, indigenous locals of the Tarai make delicious food of 'chicher' and they are also known to make mouth watering fish curry as they are keen fishermen besides being farmers.
Nepali people, normally have their lunch before leaving for work, school, or colleges. So, there is a system of having a healthy, but lighter meal during lunch time accompanied by tea. But with changing times, the younger more affluent generation follows the western system of breakfast, lunch and dinner. During the lunch hour you see all the restaurants are busy and that is when they really make money. For many theTibetan dish called momo is the staple diet during lunch. However this delicacy has been localized by adding a spicy soup in which the momos are floated and eaten together the way one eats noodle soup.This is known as momo cha and is religiously served at every party and by most restaurants in town as if its the national dish.