Nepal's cuisine has been heavily influenced by climate as well as neighboring India. Typical meals include rice, lentils, pickles and curried vegetables.
Women grind their spices fresh daily on a big stone mortar, using cumin, chili, turmeric, fennel, fenugreek, mustard seed, coriander, and the mixed-spice masala. Bright orange besaar or turmeric, "poor man's saffron," gives curries their characteristic golden tint. Rubbed over the skin of butchered goats, it acts as a fly repellent and preservative.
Mustard or rapeseed is grown all over lower Nepal, carpeting fields with yellow flowers in the spring. Mustard oil is used for cooking, as well as oil lamps, temple offerings, and massage. Food is fried in mustard oil and liberally seasoned with garlic, onions, and fresh ginger. More flavor comes from a spoonful of achaar, a pickle which can be sweet, salty, sour, or hot. Try pungent mango pickle and sweet mango relish, and a simple and delicious achaar of chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, lemon juice, and fresh cilantro.
Authentic Nepali food isn't burning hot, but it does have a distinct bite of chili pepper (koorsani).
Also check out our India page for additional recipes.
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This page modified January 2007
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