Arriving in Kathmandu Nepal, we were greeted with our first experience of proper tourist fodder. Hundreds of restaurants serving very average portions of everything from pepperoni pizzas to fish and chips however, explore the local villages and you’ll get a chance to witness food from all different Nepali traditions being served up.
Dal Bhat Tarkari
Nepal’s national dish, Dal Bhat Tarkari is simply an smorgasbord of unlimited firepower, sure to give Sherpas and hikers alike strength and warmth to make it across the freezing Himalayas. Dal (lentils), is served as a soup with bhat (rice) and tarkari (curry) often topped up with vegetables and spices, this is then finished with a popadom, chutney, a side of vegetables, and if u dare pickled chillies. Whilst Dal Bhat is pretty standard tucker, it is often all that is available at high altitudes and is meant to fill bellies in order to ship the next load up the mountain. At 120 rupees (£0.85) for all you can eat rice and curry this wasn’t to be ignored.
Walking around the Himalayas you encounter enough Yak traffic jams to give the Gibraltar border queue a run for its money so it was no surprise to find all the local shops selling fresh Yak cheese. A cheesey cheese, Yak cheese has the taste of parmesan, giving off a slightly smelly sock aroma but with the texture of a crumbly Cheshire. Having not had a proper ‘cheese tasting’ cheese in 5 months, we stocked up on Yak cheese whenever we could and snacked on it day and night. 100g of cheese would cost 150 rupees (£1.08).
The unofficial dish of Nepal, momos were brought over by the Tibetan people and are now found all over the country. Similar to a dim sum, parcels are made out of flour then filled with a tasty mix of onions, chillies, spices, coriander and either buffalo or chicken. The parcels are then delicately crimped to form the shape of a half moon before being steamed for 10/15 minutes. Once ready, Momos can either be served steamed, or to add an extra bit of crispiness can be shallow fried for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Served alongside a super spicy chilli sauce and costing about 80 rupees (£0.60) for a plate of 8, Momos were our favourite beer snack going in Nepal.
Another popular snack to accompany the beers, buffalo is salted, spiced and hung out to dry. After being left until all the moisture has been removed thin slices of Buffalo are fried along with green chillies, tomatoes, red onions, fresh coriander and some typical Nepali spices. This dish is served very spicy and is sure to get rid of any cold like symptoms you may have picked up while trekking up the mountain. 100 rupees (£0.72) will get you a hot plate of Sandeko to go along with your icey cold beer.
Being a country full of Hindus the sacred cow is still out of bounds, however they do offer an alternative to go with a glass of red, the Buffalo . The first thing we did in Kathmandu was to order a Buff steak medium rare and a carafe of vino tinto. Unfortunately, a piece of Buff didn’t live up to the medium rare Rib Eye which we were used to back home however, after almost 5 months with no red meat this did the trick and topped up our surely depleted iron levels. A good buffalo steak will cost about 500 rupees (£3.62).