25 Popular Food You Have To Eat in Kathmandu
From sweet to savory, tangy to spicy, Kathmandu raises the bars high in terms of a variety of flavors. There is an overflowing amount of food to try and test out. Out of the big bunch, here are the 25 most popular foods you have to eat in Kathmandu.
- Nepali Khana Set
- Newari Khaja Set
- Aalu Tama
- Sadheko Sukuti
- Sel Roti
- Tingmo and Aalu Phing
- Aalu Chop
- Pau / Titaura
Nepali Khana Set
On the top tier of the food bucket list of Kathmandu, a Nepali Khana Set is inevitably the first dish you need to try. It is a filling set usually eaten for lunch and dinner that is more so-called Dal Bhat Tarkari Achaar. People in Kathmandu as well as the whole Nepali have it at least twice a day. So, it is essential to have a taste of the lentil soup, vegetables, and pickles in a plate of rice to travel into the authentic flavor of Kathmandu, and Nepal for that matter.
Newari Khaja Set
The second item on the list would be a Newari Khaja Set. Kathmandu is dominantly a residence of the Newars, so Newari food items are available easily. This set consists of beaten rice, potatoes, soybeans, aalu tama, choila, aalu sadeko, and gundruk. You can add or refrain from getting bara which is a pancake made of lentils and eggs. Complemented with drinks on the side, this plate of food is also very filling. It is a must to try it out, since it is a food version of the Newari tradition, and might we add that the taste is spectacular and unique.
Momo are dumplings with meat or vegetable fillings, easily customizable according to your choice. You can accompany it with a dipping sauce or a pool of it, with soups or just by itself. It is available in a restaurant or on the street. Since it is such a staple food in Kathmandu, and Nepal in general, you must try it.
Also derived from Newari cuisine, Choila is a grilled and spiced meat dish. It can be devoured on its own, but usually, it is served with beaten rice. This tiny spice meat bomb will make you have some more so you should have a taste of it. It is also accompanied by drinks and local beverages like Chyaang, which we will talk about in a bit. The only time you might not want to consider it is if you are a vegetarian, otherwise this is a flavor-packed food in Kathmandu.
Chatamari is a Newari style of pancake made out of rice flour with toppings of eggs, vegetables, and meat. Keema Chatamari is one of the most popular types of Chatamari because the toppings are made of tasty, spicy meat fillings and eggs. It is also customizable, with toppings of cheese as well. Even when it is a pancake, it is packed with flavors and nutrients from the meat, eggs, and vegetables, so do give it a try. You will see why it is such a loved food in Kathmandu.
This Newari dish is a dessert, and it is a must-try for the ones with a sweet tooth. Made with rice flour and the filling of chaaku or khuwa, Yomari is made one by one by hand and is shaped like a fig. You can also find crunch and nuts like almonds, cashews, and coconuts. The mixture of the nuts with the sweet filling in the rice dough will take your tastebuds in a sweet dip, so this is an unmissable dessert on your journey to Kathmandu.
Aalu Tama is made out of potato, bamboo shoots and beans which is a spicy and sour dish. It has the flavors of both China and India combined and is served with rice, Newari Khaja Set, or even sel roti. You can add or decrease the spice according to your wish, but it is usually eaten a bit spicy. It is also an incredibly famous dish in Kathmandu, so make sure you have a taste of it with rice.
Thukpa is considered comfort food, originally a Tibetan food. But it has come into Nepal, into Kathmandu, and is enjoyed as a whole meal at times. Thukpa is boiled noodles, with broth and a few vegetables. You can add meat, and chilies to it as well. It is available in many hotels, so it is easily accessible. Make sure you are not missing out on this bowl of warmth.
This is also a meat dish, with meat cut and dried, mixed with spices, raw onions, chilies, or anything else that you’d like. It is again served with beaten rice. It is served as a side dish, or as an appetizer, so the spicy meat will make you want more, the dried meat could be of your choice that you can make spicy, smoky, and tangy as per your desire. This tiny bite-sized meat is so simple but it makes beaten rice more palatable, so do give it a try.
Gundruk pickle is a fermented green vegetable leaf or vegetable into pickles. So, this achar is made out of a variety of vegetables like mustard, cauliflower, and radish leaves mixed with soaked gundruk, chopped onions, tomatoes, spices, chilies, and oil of some sort. It is a tangy pickle that is eaten with rice. So, make sure to order some gundruk pikle the next time you are having dal bhat or a Thakali set because it will level up your food experience.
Sel roti is widely used in Nepalese daily lives. Made with rice flour, it is deep-fried in oil or ghee and is made round in shape. One can make it sweeter by adding sugar to the batter or just have it in its neutral flavor. It can be served with aalu ko achar, that is potato pickle, to balance the flavor - the saltiness from the pickle and the sweetness from the sel roti. Since it is made in the times of festivals like Tihar and more, sel roti does not just hold its flavor, but it also holds its religious significance, which is why you must test it on your way to Kathmandu.
Even though it is a Limbu delicacy, because of how tasty it is, Sekuwa has remained viral in the streets of Kathmandu as well. Sekuwa is also meat coated with herbs and spices, but it is grilled over fire. Again, the meat can be any type, which can also have onions accompanied on the same stick that it is roasted in. The smoky and charred taste is a high-seller and is very popular street food. It should not be missed because of that reason.
Tingmo and Aalu Phing
Borrowed from the Tibetan palate, Tingmo, and Aalu Phing is a special winter food. Tingmo, shaped like a flower, is a steamed, porous bread that one enjoys with a soup or a broth on the side called aalu phing. Aalu phing is a hot broth with potatoes, vegetables, and noodles served with rice. Since it is hearty food, you should try it if you want to feel full, but with a little twist of flavors than the regular dal bhat.
Also derived from the Tibetan palate, Laphing is one of the most wanted street foods in Kathmandu. Even with numerous places serving Laphing, Boudha is the original place to try out Laphing. It is essentially a summer food made out of wheat gluten as the base flatbread with the starch turned into a tofu-like filling. The flatbread is rolled into a thin pastry-like base that can have chips or instant noodles as a filling, and also could be served with cold-spiced water. This is a cold, mouth-watering, slurpy street food, so make sure to roam around Boudhanath Stupa and get a hold of it.
This is also an incredible street food of fried potato fritters. The mixture of baked potatoes, meat, and spices into a dough and fried makes a great snack, be it at home or in the streets. Since it is very affordable, you will find people hovering around the street stalls to enjoy aalu chop with chutney on the side and tea as well. Tiny tastes like this will energize you to try more street foods in Kathmandu, so give aalu chop a shot.
Famous as an Indian snack, salty fried pastry has also become a famous snack in Kathmandu. The filling of this triangle has mashed potatoes, peas, spices, onions, and beans. It is also available easily, as well as in Indian restaurants in Kathmandu like Tip Top, Aangan Sweets. Samosa can be best served with tea, and also with additional vegetable gravy, or chutney as well. If you want a quick snack for lunch, then this fried pastry would be a delight.
Chowmein is made out of noodles that are stir-fried with vegetables. Despite noodles being a very popular dish, chowmein here in Kathmandu has its flavor. By now, you must have noticed that there is a lot of spice and flavors involved, with some sort of side dish, filling, or another food item in the mix. Chowmein also has vegetables in the mix with spices along the way. So, you must try this street food, which catered to the Nepalese taste palette.
This street food is also extremely famous with little fried puri that uses a filling made of mashed potatoes, onion, spices, beans, and chilies. It is dipped in a tangy, spicy flavored water with many spices, mint, tamarind, and a panipuri flavor-enhancing powder. It is very delicious and is eaten on the spot. The street vendors make it best, but today even the hotels have it. It is just that popular, so you will be missing out on the food experience if you do not eat it in Kathmandu.
This is also one of the most common street foods, that tastes best when it's spicy and tangy. It uses puffed rice, onion, tomato, beans, chilies, and lemon juice mixed and served. It is also common to use instant noodles to zing it up. This street food is easily available and can be eaten as a snack, so you must try this burst of flavors on one plate.
Pau / Titaura
This is a sour and spicy snack that one devours packets of. Made in different shapes and sizes, be it in ball shapes, rectangular or square shapes, fruits are boiled until the flesh and seeds can be separated and then molded in desired shapes to sun-dry. It is coated with salt, sugar, and chilly oil before they are dried. It is also an on-the-road snack that will awaken your taste buds, so do give it a try.
Gudpak is a sweet dessert that is made with milk, sugar, and soft nutty topics of grated coconut, sliced almonds, and cashews. It is cooked to achieve a brown color and is best when eaten hot. But, gudpak is also eaten cold since they can be premade and are sold in packets too. It is also given to people about to visit another country, so they don’t get homesick. This sweet taste mixed with nuts can be addictive quickly and can be taken on the go so you must try it in Kathmandu.
Khuwa is milk stirred until it becomes thick, smooth, and can be turned into any shape we’d like. It can be mixed with sugar in the stirring process to make it even sweeter. Dakshinkali is famous for Khuwa, so make sure you do eat it depending on how sweet you like it. It is still tasty, even without the sugar, for the taste of milk in a thicker consistency.
This is a Newari beverage made with fermented rice. The sweeter it is, the tastier it is. Chhyang is usually served with Newari Khaja Set so that the food gets better digested. It can also be served cool and is something that can be drunk by itself, without any food on the table. But just be aware not to drink too much, or the room will start spinning. Having said that, it is a great accompaniment with food, so do try it out.
Tongba is also a drink brought through the Limbu culture with fermented millet. It is served hot by pouring hot water into the fermented millet. It is enjoyed usually in the Himalayan region since it keeps you warm. But it has quickly gained attention and people get together with their friends and drink Tongba to let loose a little out of their daily lives. For this matter, you should also try to drink Tongba along with your buddies and have downtime too.
This sweet drink made from yogurt is perfect to clean your throat from the spices you have already taken by the time you’ve reached the end of this list. Lassi is a sweet drink served cold with the toppings of various nuts, dry fruits, or shaved coconut. In Kathmandu, if you ask for a lassi shop, you will be directed straight to Indrachowk area near Kathmandu Durbar Area.There are varieties of it, so you can try whatever you’d like, yet the plain one won’t disappoint. So, as you end your food journey, wash down your food with this sweet, cold drink.