Nepalese Food Culture

Nepalese Food Culture is a marriage of spice with a collaborative influence from the Indian, Mongolia and China and in recent globalization phase some continental mixes. The core of the food culture is however generated within produces that can be grown and from it own farm. The taste has similarities with its border countries with some twist for your tastebuds from the home grown mix of spices and flavours.

The real deal for most of the Nepalese people is their staple Dal(varieties of lentil soups) Bhat(Rice) Tarkari(vegetable curries) and they usually consume it for at least twice a day. Their day is incomplete without a sizable rice with few different condiments around it. The higher-altitude areas on the other hand is not so fertile and the Rice aren't logistical options most of the time, so the staple food for them is dhiro, (A thick mush made of corn or millet) as corn farms are substitute alternative for the tougher irrigation environment. Most families eat from individual plates while seated on the floor. Though some urbanites use Western utensils but it is far more common to eat with their hands. Conventions regarding eating and drinking are tied to caste and surnames. An orthodox higher caste Hindus are strictly vegetarian and avoids alcohol religiously so as the Buddhists and monks. Whereas other medium to lower castes may drink alcohol and eat pork and even beef too. 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 their culture at all. However, today’s context is much more relaxing because of urbanization and much more in lined with the modern world, also 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 is a gift from God to humanity and it should never be disrespected. The sources where it is produced are also as equally important too. And this process of production and consumption should be joyful divine moments which everyone should get to enjoy on their own terms.

  • 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. Right hands to be used while dealing with food and also when consuming. Left-hands are considered impure as they are used to clean yourself while doing your business in water closets.

  • 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, lamb, water buffaloes and chickens.

  • The kitchen in Hindu households is considered as sacred and usually positioned south corner of the house.

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

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

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

  • Meals are always consumed before you leave your house in the morning and after you get back at nights and restaurant cultures were rarely in practice until recent years and people are happy adapting this new eating out trends.

  • In the hills where rice is expensive, the Nepalese substitute rice for dhedo, which is a mixture of flour and water and clarified butter with side of condiments and curries.

  • The most common practice in Nepal is avoid eating food that has been touched by a person who is in feeding himself which is known as jutho which basically similar meaning to “contaminated”.When drinking water for example, Nepalese people will not touch the bottle or glass to their lips so that others can drink from it too.

  • Another custom is the idea that the foot is ritually dirty and therefore stepping over food or pointing the soles of your feet to the food or touch them is disrespectful. Don’t eat off someone else’s plate or offer any one food you have taken a bite out of, people could consider that very offensive.

  • Most Nepalese people won’t eat meat every day even if they aren't vegetarian too. They leave that for few festival periods as a joyful feast with their whole family and friends.