Nepalese Cuisine - Showing Taste & Health
“Nepalese Cuisine - Showing Taste & Health” announced a newspaper heading. Generally people don’t bother to look into the culinary habits of the people nestled in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal. Nepal lies between India and Tibet and Nepalese cuisine borrows few nuances from the Indian and few from Tibetan cuisine. I was lucky to enjoy some wonderful foods like Dal-bhat Tarkari (traditional Nepalese and Indian traditional food comprising of steamed rice, lentil soup, vegetable curry and cereal bhat) and tsampa during my trip to Kathmandu.
I can say that Nepal is a “food lover’s heaven” in all senses because it is home to nearly 100 or more distinct ethnic communities. Although I said earlier that Nepalese cuisine borrows many nuances from Indian cuisine in general but there are noticeable differences too.
- Unlike the Indian Masala (spice) mix, the Nepalese Masala mix is prepared from spices such as coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, fenugreek and jimbu. Jimbu is a sort of aromatic grass that grows around Nepal and looks much more like chives.
- Although many of the Indian curries are prepared and enjoyed throughout Nepal, the Nepalese curries are less spicy than their Indian counterparts.
- Indian curries are prepared using yoghurt or coconut milk as a base, whereas Nepalese curries are made from tomatoes.
I have learned that the Nepalese cooks mostly use timur – a sort of berry to add peppiness and hotness to their food preparations. I can say that Nepalese cuisine is not only hearty, but also one amongst the tasty and healthy cuisines around the world. Basically the Nepalese cuisine is identified with food habits of the inhabitants of the land.
- Newari Cuisine / Newa Cuisine/Newar Cuisine: It is the most distinguished type of Nepalese cuisine which is enjoyed by the Newar people residing in the capital of Kathmandu. Water buffalo meat is the prominent feature of this cuisine. The Newari festival is incomplete without three items: sawata ( boiled eggs flavored with salt and turmeric), delicious Nepali bread called Wo, and dried sardines flavored with cumin powder and salt.
- Terai Cuisine: As said before that Nepalese cuisine borrows heavily from Indian and Tibetian cuisines, and exactly the Terai cuisine (enjoyed by people living in the Sivalik Hills) resembles Maithili cuisine, and Bihari or Bhojpuri cuisine of India. The food preparations vary widely from place to place based on the availability of cash crops.
- Khas or Pahari Cuisine: This is also one of the distinguished disciplines of Nepalese cuisine which is marked by the dietary habits of upper caste Hindus. Mostly Pahari caste people love to munch on vegetables like potatoes, green beans, radish, etc, but meat consumption is mostly restricted to wild boar, which is raised in captivity.
- Ethnic populations living in middle hills: I feel in this region you can notice one of the amazing ethnic variations of the Nepalese cuisine. The people from this region love to feast on buffalo meat, beef and pork.
- Himalayan Cuisine: This variation of Nepalese cuisine is hugely influenced by the Tibetan cuisine. The people of this area mostly love to savor foods prepared from grains such as barley and millet. Meat of yak or yak–cow hybrid meats are normally savored by people from this region.
- Thakali Cuisine: This is the variation of Nepalese cuisine observed by Thakali people of Tibetan origin. Yak and yak-cow hybrid meats are normally consumed by the people. Other than that people also enjoy spinach soup (laced with pepper).
If you were never invited to a proper Nepali feast, then I suggest you should visit various web portals and download some tasty recipes from Nepalese cuisine and try to prepare them at home. I think by experimenting with some recipes you will exactly understand that a typical Nepalese cuisine is not only rich in taste, but also encourages you with its health perspective.
Image courtesy: purnimacollection.com