History One of the most developed cuisines in Nepal is that of the Newars, an ethnic group who have lived in the Kathmandu Valley from time immemorial as farmers and traders and have their own distinctive culture, language, and cuisine.
Ethnic Diversity There are more than 100 distinct ethnic groups. Most Nepalis are Hindu or Buddhist and while not strict vegetarians, they eat meat mainly on special occasions and occasionally at home.
Geography Nepal is a small country the the size of Illinois nestled in the Himalayas between India, China and Tibet. The valley around Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, a former lake bed, was once one of Asia’s richest agricultural areas.
Prevailing Flavors Rice together with a wide variety of vegetables and beans form the core of the local Nepali diet for rich and poor alike. The standard Nepali meal is dal-bhat-tarkar - boiled lentils (dal), Boiled white rice (bhat), two or three sautéed or curried vegetables (tarkari) together with a selection of hot or sour pickles (achaar).
Prevailing Flavors Because of the country’s proximity to India, cooking techniques and methods are similar. Nepali curries have tomatoes, not yogurt or coconut milk, as in India. Nepalis also use fewer and milder spices than Indians. Nepali masala (spice mixture) contains cumin, coriander, ginger, garlic, fenugreek, and jimbu, an aromatic grass that resembles chives. Hotness comes from chilies or a berry called timur, similar to Szechwan pepper.
Prevailing Flavors The influence of China and Tibet is apparent in the popularity of noodles, bamboo shoots, soy beans, and MOMOS -- small steamed or sautéed dumplings filled with meat or vegetables. Momos became the most popular street food in Kathmandu after Tibetan refugees opened stalls there in the 1960s.
Newar Feast Start with three items, called sawata: boiled eggs flavored with turmeric and salt Dried sardines flavored with cumin seed and salt, and a delicious round bread called wo that is made of lentils soaked in water overnight, ground to a paste, and sautéed. Samhebaji that included flattened rice flakes or chiura (sold in Indian grocery stores as poha); wo; boiled black-eyed peas; soybeans cooked with garlic, ginger and chilies; fried garlic cloves, potato achaar; a green leafy vegetable; choila, a dish traditionally made from water buffalo but prepared with chicken in the United States; and wine.
Culinary Etiquette Newar people love gathering, cooking and feasting as a community All of it is eaten off ingenious disposable leaf plates and eaten with fingers. It’s a blessing there is no washing up to contend with.