Nepal’s cuisine is a delightful mix of refreshing flavours, tangy spices, and yummy fresh ingredients. Influenced by Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan cultures, it offers a great range of delicious vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, whether it’s a quick snack you are looking for or a filling meal. If you are in this breathtaking country, do not miss out on trying its street food. Guaranteeing a sensational journey for your taste buds, Nepal’s street food is piquant and spicy. It may be a bit daunting for the uninitiated, but with a little care and caution, you are sure to enjoy the most delicious street food the region has to offer. Go beyond the daal bhat and read on to find out the best street food you must try in Nepal.
1. Momos (stuffed dumplings)
Momos (also known as momochas locally) are steamed or fried dumplings with seasoned fillings. These delicious appetizers are the most popular snack in Nepal, and you will find them in literally every market in the country. Momos come with several different stuffings - ground meat, vegetables, tofu, paneer, or a combination of these. The filling is enclosed in a thin, white flour wrapping and is then fried or steamed. A plate of these dumplings is usually served along with a zesty dipping sauce like chutney or achar. Each region of Nepal has its own speciality, so go ahead and try them all!
2. Chatamari (rice flour crepe with toppings)
Often referred to as the Newari Pizza, chatamari is a rice-flour based crepe or pancake that is cooked with toppings that could be any combination of vegetables, meat, cheese, and Nepali spices. Today a beloved street food, this dish was initially a speciality of the Newar community in Nepal. Commonly available in restaurants across the country, chatamari comes in varieties, including egg chatamari, keema chatamari, and plain vegetable chatamari.
3. Sekuwa (barbequed spiced meat)
Similar to kebabs, sekuwa is meat directly grilled over heat. Yet another popular street food, you will find vendors searing pieces of meat - pork, lamb, goat, chicken, or a mixture of these - over charcoal grills in Nepal. The dish is typically served with chiura (beaten rice) and achar (spicy pickle).
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4. Samosa (fried stuffed pastry)
This wonderfully flaky and savoury snack is popular across the Indian subcontinent. Samosas are fried or baked pastries made with white flour that come with a savoury filling, typically curried potatoes or meat. Look out for vendors making them fresh, and bite into piping hot samosas to enjoy their vibrant flavours. Samosas are usually accompanied by a spicy green chutney made of mint, coriander, and green chillies.
5. Pani puri (crispy, hollow puri with filling)
A favourite chaat item across the Indian subcontinent, pani puri is a dish where crisp, round, and deep-fried crepe shells are stuffed with a savoury filling and then dunked in flavoured water just before being served. It may sound complicated, but the explosion of flavours and spices in your mouth when you try it is definitely something to be experienced! For those trying it out for the first time, pani puris are best had at well-known restaurants rather than from street vendors to ensure proper hygiene. For the uninitiated, chaat is a distinctive category of spicy street food popular across the Indian subcontinent.
6. Aloo chop (deep-fried potato fritters)
Basically potato fritters, aloo chop is a fried snack usually found in roadside cafes. Here, boiled potatoes are mashed with spices, dipped in gram flour and then deep-fried. When you bite into aloo chop, you will find it crispy on the outside and flavourful on the inside. Have it with chutney or sauce for the best taste.
7. Chatpate (tangy puffed rice mixture)
Another kind of chaat, chatpate is a dry mixture featuring a long list of ingredients that offer a whole medley of flavours. Chatpate vendors in Nepal will whip up a serving of this dish in a jiffy, mixing up all the ingredients right in front of you. Typically, the base is puffed rice into which crushed, dried instant noodles, boiled chickpeas, diced tomato, cucumber, onion, boiled potato, along with lemon juice and spices are added then garnished with fresh coriander. Crunchy with a complex mix of flavours, chatpate is not for the faint of heart or for those with a sensitive palate!
8. Bara (savoury pancake)
Made of ground lentils, these fried pancakes are a speciality of the Newari community. This dish can either be plain or served with meat or eggs. Soaked black lentils - other kinds can also be used - are ground with very little water to form a thick paste. In this, garlic, ginger paste, and spices are added, as well as meat or beaten egg. The paste is then poured, shaped into thick pancakes, and shallowly fried, resulting in a yummy and crispy snack that you can enjoy with chutney.
9. Choila (grilled meat salad)
This incredibly spicy dish consists of grilled buffalo meat mixed with spices and usually served with beaten rice. A traditional Newari dish, chicken and mutton are now also used to make it. To make this dish, grilled meat is marinated with several Nepali spices plus lemon juice. It is then topped with a garnish of cumin and fenugreek seeds sauteed in hot oil.
10. Dahi puri chaat (hollow puri shells with yogurt and savoury filling)
Another type of chaat, dahi puri involves a crispy hard puri or a crepe stuffed with a potato or chickpea mixture and then topped with yoghurt. Before serving, a final dash of tamarind chutney and green chutney is added on top. The crunchy shell mixed with the spicy filling is balanced by the yoghurt, which makes it a delightful experience. Look out for street vendors serving it fresh in the markets, though those wanting to play it safe may want to head to a restaurant.
Enjoy Nepal's scrumptious street food!
Spicy and often greasy, eating street food in Nepal may seem like a risky adventure for travellers new to the country. However, if you are willing to give it a go, then here are some tips for you - especially if you are considering small stalls or roadside hawkers: make sure to eat only in places that are well-known and popular with locals. Eat only if the dish is freshly made in front of you - avoid food that has been left out. Another way is to opt for a reputable street food tour that will take you to the best places to enjoy these dishes.
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