Nepal lies at the intersection of two great culinary traditions, Indian and Chinese. The simple cooking of the hills – Nepal’s heartland – is essentially a regional variation of north Indian food, comprising rice, lentils, curried vegetables, meats and chutneys. In the Kathmandu valley, the indigenous Newar have their own cuisine of spicy meat and vegetable dishes while in the mountains the diet is essentially Tibetan, consisting of soups, pastas, potatoes and breads.
For many Nepalis,”Daal bhat tarkaari” ( lentil soup, white rice and curried vegetables) isn’t just the most popular meal, it’s the only meal they ever eat, twice a day, every day of their lives. Indeed, in much of hill Nepal, “bhaat” is a synonym for food. A plate of “daal bhat” is often supplemented with “achhaar” (chutney) and more rarely with “maasu” (meat – chicken, goat or fish) marinated in yoghurt and spices and fried in oil or “ghiu” ( clarified butter). Traditional Nepali dishes are localized or reserved for special occasions. In Indian-influenced Taraï towns ( Taraï is a vast plain in southern Nepal bordering India), rice is replaced by “roti”( bread) and people eat a vast range of Indian curries, snacks and sweets. In Nepal’s eastern hills, “Sokuti”( dried, spiced meat fried in oil) is popular. There, soups are common also: “tama surwa” is made with bamboo shoots; “gundruk” is a sour concoction of fermented vegetables;… While in the Taraï, making a meal out of rice and “sekuwa”( kebabs of spicy marinated meat chunks) or “taareko maachhaa”( fried fish) is common.
Nepali desserts include “khir”( rice pudding), “sikarni”( thick, whipped yoghurt with cinnamon, raisins and nuts) and Indian sweets like “laddu”( yellow speckled semolina balls),”jalebi”( deep-fried pretzels of battered treacle),…
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