Nepal's cuisine has been heavily influenced by climate as well as neighboring India. Typical meals include rice, lentils, pickles and curried vegetables.
The finest alcohol is homemade stuff. Raksi is potent, exhilarating, and smooth as velvet; it's often mistranslated as "wine," but it's really grain alcohol. To test for good raksi, toss a small amount on a fire and see if it burns (braver or more drunken connoisseurs will dip their finger into their glass and set it aflame). Different grains produce different flavors: rice raksi is rich and smooth, kodo or millet is stronger and more fiery. Women of a household pride themselves on their liquor, and will put the most effort and time into making raksi for a big celebration like a wedding. At feasts and celebrations it's poured from the graceful spouted anti into tiny clay cups, an art which tests the grace and skill of the pourer.
Less potent is home-brewed beer of rice or millet, jand (Nepali) or chang (Tibetan), a whitish, thin drink with a refreshing sweet-sour taste. A variation served in mountain regions is tongba, fermented mash which is placed in a wooden container and mixed with hot water. Nepalis drink from a bamboo (or nowadays plastic) straw, sipping the liquid and avoiding the bits of millet; the hot water is refilled several times. Nursing a flask of tongba makes a pleasant pursuit for a cold evening.
Also check out our India page for additional recipes.
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This page modified January 2007
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