Nepalese Food Culture

Nepalese Food Culture


Dal Bhat power 24 hour, is what defines the Nepalese appetite. Nepalese food is different than that served around the globe. The unique style of eating may seem quite strange to people, but unless a sizable helping of rice (Bhaat) complimenting with a lentil dish (Dal), vegetables (Tarkari), pickle (Achar), and a meat item (Masu) is served, the meal of a Nepali is not complete. This set of meal is usually served for every lunch and dinner in a normal household in Nepal. In places where rice is scarce Dhedo (A thick mush made of corn or millet) replaces the Bhaat. Roti, flatbread is supplemented by rice in areas that have plenty of supplies of wheat. In the rural areas, people prefer being seated on the floor by spreading a Sukul (jute sacks or mats made out of corn wraps) to enjoy their meals whereas, the urbanites use dining tables. But almost all the Nepalese eat in a common manner, they use their hands to eat.

Conventions regarding eating and drinking are tied to caste. Orthodox high-caste Hindus are strictly vegetarian and do not drink alcohol. Other castes may drink alcohol and eat pork. Traditionally, caste rules also dictate who may eat with or accept food from whom. Members of the higher castes were particularly reluctant to eat food prepared by strangers. Consequently, eating out has not been a major part of the culture. However, caste rules are relaxing to suit the modern world, and the tourist economy is making restaurants a common feature of urban life.


Here are some interesting facts about food culture in Nepal

  • The Nepalese consider that food and eating are all divine and food should be eaten in a joyful manner.

  • The main staple diet of most Nepali people is Dal, Bhaat and Tarkari – translated as Lentils, Rice and Curried vegetable. A meal of those three is generally eaten twice a day.

  • Most Nepalese use their fingers to eat and using spoons and forks is not common, especially when you are having “Daal Bhat” the staple Nepalese diet. Use your right hand to eat and deal with food. Nepalese use their left-hand to wash in the toilet.

  • Cows are worshipped in Nepal and considered the axis of the agricultural economy. Therefore their slaughter is forbidden and Nepalese do not eat beef.

  • The meat most widely consumed in Nepal is one of male goats and sheep.

  • The kitchen in Hindu households is considered as sacred and usually faces south.

  • There are several festivals throughout the year where Nepali Hindus celebrate by fasting.

  • In most part of the country, especially rice-growing areas, meals are eaten twice a day, about 10 am and 8 pm.

  • In between the two big meals, snacks are generally eaten, such as bread, chiura (beaten rice), roti (flatbread), curried vegetables, milked tea and other snacks.

  • Eating is always in the home and going to a restaurant is unheard of except in cities.

  • In the hills where rice is expensive, the Nepalese substitute rice for dhedo, which is a mixture of flour and water or butter.

  • The most common custom in Nepal is jutho, which translates as “contaminated” and requires people not to touch others’ food and drink with either their hands or their spoon. When drinking water, for example, Nepalese people will not touch the bottle or glass to their lips so that others can drink from it also.

  • Another custom is the idea that the foot is ritually dirty and therefore stepping over food or pointing the soles of your feet is disrespectful. Don’t eat off someone else’s plate or offer anyone food you have taken a bite out of.

  • Most Nepalese people won’t eat meat every day if they are not vegetarian and if they can afford it the meat will be prepared and enjoyed during festivals.