With so many Nepalis living outside of the country, those of us who remain are often asked what keeps us here. The standard answer is: home food. Which is why it is sad to see many menus featuring the same momos, chowmein and fried rice, when we have so much culinary heritage on offer.
We live a country where food is regarded as sustenance, and not a luxury. We eat to live. We eat when we arrive at a place where food is being served, not necessarily when we are hungry.
Nepal is synonymous with the Himalaya, and more recently the world has woken up to the fact that we also have plains in the south and a plateau to the north. It is our unique location the gives Nepal its ethnic and culinary diversity. Which is why we must position our food as a product, service and a true lifetime experience.
Exploring Nepal’s culinary diversity, Kedar Sharma and Kiran Sharma
Tharu escargots, Sewa Bhattarai
We have so much more than dal bhat — why have we kept all those dishes hidden from the world? Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Thai and Vietnamese food are now served all over the world why have we not branded Nepali cuisine? Thakali and Newari restaurants are doing well, others should follow.
At Lakeside in Pokhara, there is a restaurant called Fresh Elements that sources local ingredients to create world-class meals. At Dhakhwa House in Patan visitors prepare, cook and enjoy a great meal as part of the homestay package. Bhojan Griha in Dillibazar has been serving Nepali food with local music and folk dances for many years now.
At the award-winning Dwarika’s Hotel, the Krishnarpan 18-course dinner (pictured above) is now a global brand and a lifetime experience. The yogurt of Bhaktapur, the sisno (nettle) soup on trek routes, millet, buckwheat and Tibetan bread, are all part of many menus now.
We need to involve creative chefs who will help transform these and many more local ingredients into world-class dining experiences. We could develop our own Nepali version of Masterchef Australia.
The superfoods of the Andes and the Himalaya, Sonia Awale