5 Traditional Nepali Dishes You Can Try For Any Occasion

Nepal tour would never be complete without sampling the delicious Nepali dishes. The country, located on the rich foothills of Himalayas, is endowed with a dynamic landscape. Nepal’s cuisine is heavily influenced by Indian and Tibetan gastronomy, owing to its proximity to the two nations. However, the country has its distinctive dishes, which are flavorful and come with an intense taste.

Nepali dishes are rich in spices. The recipes are mostly gluten-free and made with rice, varieties of lentils, and vegetables. Nepali cooking is predominantly vegetarian. Cows are sacred in Nepal, and therefore, beef is not included in the traditional Hindu Nepalese menu. As a substitute, Nepalese use buffalo meat. Apart from that, chicken, fish, and lambs are also used for non-vegetarian delights.

Usually, you will find several options for eating based on your budget. The bhojanalaya (or traditional restaurants) are the place to try the local delights. You are not required to book a reservation in advance in these eateries. You might have to share your table with someone else, and this might be a bit shocking to you.
Let’s check out some of the flavorful Nepalese dishes that you can try for any occasion:

1. Dal Bhat Tarkari

Served as – Lunch or Dinner

The traditional Nepali dish, dal bhat tarkari, consists of rice, lentil soup, and curried seasonal vegetables. The dish is mildly spicy, but it can be toned down according to preference. While trekking into the Nepali landscape, you will find several homestays serving you traditional dal bhat tarkari accompanied with papad (an appetizer belonging to the Indian subcontinent) and salad with some pickled vegetables and fruits.

Traditionally, this Nepali staple is a vegetarian affair. But several eateries might serve it with meat or chicken side dish. The meal is healthy and nutritious, but not very inventive.

How to eat: You will be served rice (bhat), lentil soup (dal), and curried vegetables (tarkari) on a metal plate. If you want to eat like the locals, break the mount of white rice and pour the lentil soup on it. Now, add curried vegetables to the mixture. Make small balls of this mixture, with your right hand, and using your thumb, put the ball in your mouth. If eating with the hand is too much for you, then you can always ask your server for a spoon.      

2. Momo and Chow Mein

Served as – Snack or Entrée

Momos (dumplings) are an important example of how Nepali dishes were influenced by Tibetan gastronomy. The small dumplings usually served as an entrée, are made from white flour. For filling ground meat or vegetables are used. You will find several street-side vendors as well as brick and mortar establishments selling momos along with a bowl of hot soup. Remember to check whether the soup is freshly made, and eat from the stores where local crowd congregates. Chow Mein or thin noodles stir-fried with vegetables, eggs, and meat is a popular dish, and easy on the pocket as well.

How to eat: For eating momos, dip the dumplings in the hot sauce or place it whole in the mouth as it is. Savor it with the soup served. Chow Mein does not require any additional sides and can be eaten as it is. But, if you like some heat with your dish, do add some hot sauce.  

3. Sel Roti

Served as – Snack

The traditional ring-shaped Sel Roti, similar to a deep-fried bagel, is puffy dough deep fried till golden brown. One of the popular Nepali dishes, Sel Roti is a must for auspicious occasions like Dashain, Teej, and Tihar. Made from rice flour, milk, butter, and other flavorings of personal choices, this dish has a higher shelf life.

For making the dish, the first semi-liquid dough is prepared with dry and wet ingredients. When the dough has reached the preferred consistency, it is poured into the oil (at medium-high temperature). For getting the popular ring shape, the chefs pour the dough by hand in the desired shape. The rings are fried till golden brown. Many locals prefer eating the puffed dough as a breakfast item, or a snack in the evening.   

How to eat: Sel Rotis are mouthwatering snacks and can be enjoyed without any sides. But, several Nepalese prefer their rotis with a generous helping of yogurt. For evening snacks, sel roti is usually accompanied by curried veggies.      

4. Everest Beer

Served as – Drinks

Interestingly, Nepalese have experience in home brewing and distilling. Except for Nepal dishes, drinking is an important part of life among several communities like Sherpas and Newaris. Everest Nepali lager beer is one of the most popular beverages preferred by hikers and trekkers, particularly after a strenuous trek. Although international beer brands are available – many prefer the local lager due to its distinctive taste and texture. Apart from Everest, local beer brands include Sherpa, Kathmandu, and Gorkha Beer.

Made from malt or other grains, the beer tastes very refreshing when served chilled. Apart from these variants, Chhaang is also popular among locals. Nepalis are avid homebrewers and distillers      

How to drink: Usually, most locals prefer their drinks with small bite-size snacks or nuts.    

P.S. The legal drinking age in Nepal is 18 years and above.  

5. Yonmari or Yamari

Eaten as – Dessert   

Yamari or Yonmari is a Newari delicacy which is made during special occasions, like Yomari Punhi. But, due to its immense popularity among the locals, many establishments have introduced these sweet buns into their menu. The flour, made from freshly harvested rice, gives these buns its distinctive taste and texture. For the filling, a sweet paste of molasses (jaggery), grated coconut, and sesame seeds are used.    

For many Newari’s, freshly steamed Yamari (vaguely resembling small fishes) is a guilty pleasure – reminding them of a bountiful harvest. Similar to Chinese buns, these buns taste best when served hot.

How to eat:  The rice flour cakes can be eaten as a sweet snack or after the main meal as a dessert.   


Nepali dishes, inspired by Indian and Tibetan influences, creates a delightful play of flavors and tastes in your mouth. Some of the finest examples of Nepali cuisines can be found in the hole-in-the-wall eateries or humble homestays, where the food is served with warmth and love.


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