Food speaks the language of Tradition and Culture

Posted on | oktober 12, 2012 | No Comments

Food is not just a commodity; it holds much to it then to its literal meaning. Having said that food not only explores the possibilities of opportunity but it is a way of life or existence. It is said food not only satisfies your appetite but it psychologically makes you feel at home. Like such, the Nepali tradition of food certainly highlights a great deal of importance in its cultural and traditional values.

“To know the food is to know the culture and tradition,” This statement certainly justifies the meaning as food that entails different aspect of traditional values. Nepali food is something that gives you the right taste and flavors. In Nepal there are around 50 different ethnic groups, with distinctive languages, dress, and customs and to degree cuisines. In remote areas, there is little choice, you eat what you grow. But the foods prepared during festivals are rare and unique in their own way. Nepalese recipes consist of many spices and herbs, which are used in each dish in a different proportion and manner. This makes each recipe unique in its own way. Heavily influenced by Indian and Tibetan cuisine Nepalese food still hold its unique taste and presence where it is highly considered healthy and extremely nourishing.

Highlighting, that there are several regional variations in Nepali food, but one dish more than any other has come to characterize the country’s cuisine it’s the dal-bhat-tarkari. Dal is a lentil sauce that is eaten with the bhat (rice). Tarkari is a generic name for curry vegetable and can be prepared in different ways according to seasonal availability of vegetables and local preferences. It is often served with achar (pickles) which do much to enhance overall appeal.

Like such, the Thakali food is yet another rich version of dal-bhat-tarkari which is popular for its tastes and species. The Thakali food has also aspired its ways to the Nepali Restaurant Industry and to dining habits and may be due to its full diet or vivid taste it is very popular among Nepali as well as foreigners. The Thakali food comes from the tradition of the people of Tibetan affinity who settled in Thak-Khola Valley. Thakali cuisine also uses locally-grown buckwheat, barley, millet and dal as well as rice and dal. The Thakali food set generally consist flavors of rich spicy content that shows the rich and vast array of exploration of taste buds.

Now talking more about the taste variation, Nepalese love spices and pickles, it’s an essential part of their diet. Pickles mostly come salty, sour, sweet or tangy, all big on flavor such that just a spoonful is needed with the meal. It adds flavor and it blend into any type of dish and has become an important part of Nepali cuisine.

Looking and understanding the taste, dal bhat tarkaari is common among Newars, one of the oldest inhabitants of Kathmandu but they have incorporated it in a variation of taste. Another popular item among them is chiura: dried beaten rice, served with an array of meat and vegetable curries and pickle. Outside the Kathmandu Valley where the variety of vegetables and ingredients is much less, diets are simpler. Above 3000 meters, of altitudes, corn, millet, buckwheat, barley and wheat take over as staples. The everyday lunch and dinner of many hill villagers is dhindo, a thick mush of boiled ground grains, doctored up with a soupy vegetable sauce of the ubiquitous.

Nepali saag (spinach), gundruk (dried and fermented vegetable leaves) or sisnu (nettles) are commonly used according to availability. In the far west, hill dwellers subsist on heavy bread made from a crude brown wheat or buckwheat. Barley, potatoes, dairy products and a few hardy vegetables fuel the highest Himalayan settlers of Nepal. Traders to Tibet cross 6000 meter passes carrying little more than dry tsampa (roasted fine-ground grains) to mix with butter tea, and perhaps some dried cheese (churpi) or meat. If you’re up in the Khumbu, Langtang or Manang/Jomsom areas, be sure to try some tsampa. You can also buy it in Kathmandu’s Asan bazaar. The delicious, nutty flavor and nutritious, high-energy content make it an ideal trekking food. You may have less success in downing a cup of Tibetan butter tea, known to put off most Westerners and even Nepali lowlanders.

Tibetan influences increase the further north you go, although perenial favourites, such as the momo (a stuffed dumpling, fried or steamed), are widely available in the lower regions too. In the trekking regions, you are likely to encounter little other than Nepali food, which some people may find slightly monotonous. The choice is greater in the Terai where you will also find many excellent Indian dishes.

Perhaps, the traditional food in Kathmandu has been monopolized by few of the restaurants creating their own name and fame in giving people a new taste in same old traditional way.

Bhojan Griha is one of the oldest restaurants located in Dillibazar with the taste and feel of ancient days. The property is located in a traditional setting and dates back over 150 years. Originally belonging to the royal priest of the king of Nepal, it’s a historical monument. A renovated history of 4 storey building, it Taste authentic organic Nepalese food then what more can you expect. The food is served with local folk dances and songs with the tradition of Nepali essence. Dining at Bhojan Griha, meaning House of Food, is a unique experience of splurging into the taste of Nepal. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner every day.

Similarly, Bhancha Ghar is yet another destination that highlights the enigmatic presence and essence of Nepali tradition. It has been more than two decades that the Bhancha Ghar has been catering the needs of foreign guests. From 1989 AD, Bhancha Ghar has been promoting Nepalese cuisine with no priority for an entirely Nepalese restaurant. Bhancha Ghar is a total experience that serves not only food but a feeling and essence of Nepali tradition. With spices making the taste the variable meat dishes and vegetarian dishes prepared with Newari style, accompanied by house blends of raksi, gives it the taste of Nepali at its best. Center of focusing the lifestyles of various ethnic groups of Nepal the cultural show gives you the feel of true Nepali taste. Established in a faithfully restored aristocratic household and completely furnished with authentic Nepali craftsmanship, it offers fine traditional food in a relaxed and intimate setting.

Likewise, Nepali Chulo is yet another destination located in Lazimpat Road. The decor and interior highlights the Nepali tradition and culture that gives you the rich taste and flavor of its richness and essence. The building is an ancient Rana palace that is loud and clear about its standing. It offers the supreme traditional Nepali and Newari cuisine with dynamic cultural programs. The menu covers a veg and non-veg set plate, a thali on which will come all your smaller dishes.

Tukuche Thakali Kitchen, of Durbar Marg in Kathmandu, offers excellent food. The name itself Tukuche is an ancestral home of the Thakali people. The Tukuche serves 100% the traditional Thakali food that taste, smells and presents itself with the name and quality. In menu, one can find a wide selection of items that are typically Thakali as well as a smaller collection of items created to cater to customer demand. Usually, people who come here tend to go for the set meals, which are convenient and filling, but the other items on the menu are also worth exploring. With the essence of giving the taste even the meat used here is exclusively of hardy mountain goat or chicken. Among the several Thakali restaurants in town, Tukuche is one of the oldest establishments offering the best in terms of quality taste and presentation. Over their years of service, this place has gained a lot of ground in the local market. It’s certainly a great place to experience authentic Thakali cuisine.

Food in Nepal is not an option it’s a way of life. People have been eating food for many reasons, but in Nepal the food speaks the language of tradition and values. It’s a way to understand the true spirit where one can easy know the nature and presence by knowing the food.

AUTHOR: Shreedeep Rayamajhi
E-MAIL: weaker41 [at]


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