While at Kathmandu, you should try the Newari food – at least once. Newari cuisine has a well-deserved reputation among different communities throughout the country. Vibrant with varying unique taste the foods are colorful that is scientific and well balanced. Few fortunate foreigners claim that Newari feast is one the best food they have ever tasted.
Popularly known as Suku Bhwaya (straw mat feast), the guests and the feasters are sat in a row on long straw mats called Suku. The families or the community members of the feast organizers are sat in descending order as the elders are served at first. Lapte a leaf plate is placed on the ground in front of each guest followed by the beaten rice Baji, black eyed peas, pumpkin, green vegetables, pickle and meat. New course are introduced in second and final serving. Additional course includes Aalu tama (potato and soft bamboo curry), Bhuttan, Chhyaalaa (dried radish soup), peas, and finally Curd and salad for the desert. Accompanied by the lapte you will have Salinchaa (small clay bowl) for beverages – usually thhwon (Rice beer), Ailaa (homemade hard whisky). You can also use the bowl to keep soup and even use for the curd.
Newari lunch – Samaya Baji
Usually Newari lunch or Samaya Baji includes mixture of puffed rice and beaten rice, served with fried seasoned soybean, fresh ginger rhizomes, chhoyelaa – broiled meat, black eyed peas, and pickles. These items represent good luck, prosperity and good health. Family gatherings, special celebrations, festivals and mid of big ceremonies are some of the occasions where samaya baji is served to the families and the guests alike. In old days the items of samaya baji also showed class of the families. Usually, a well to do family adds boiled egg, fresh dried fruits and variety of sweets in the usual samaya baj to add some flavor. Again local alcohol –ailaa and thhwo is also available for those interested.
Chataamari a Newari Pizza
The locals say that making chataamari is an art in itself. It requires meditation, passion and whole lot of patience to master the art of making one of the oldest kinds of bread in the history of Nepal. Make it thick, it sticks around in the mouth and teeth and if it is thin it does not give the exact taste.
Chataamari is a rice crepe or thin pancake type traditional Newari bread which used to be prepared in special occasions, major festivals and is one of the specialties of the Newars of Kathmandu valley. In recent years, chataamari has become popular among other cultures as well. And also the traditional recipe of making it has also changed. Traditionally it was plain rice bread. In recent days, vegetables, egg and minced meat are also used to add new flavor giving chataamari a new look as Newari Pizza.
Try some Wo – delicious Lentil Pancake
Another popular food among the Newas and also a big hit among other communities is Bara – a traditional Newari pancake-like snack made of black lentil. Usually a vegetarian food, it can also be prepared mixing eggs, vegetable and minced meat as well. For some who prefer adding a different taste, you can add a different kind of curry while eating one. Preparing a good bara is comparatively easy, hence the popularity is increasing day by day.
Hot soup anyone?
For those lucky travelers visiting Kathmandu in August, on Kwoaati punhi day, you can try some hot beans soup called Kwoaati – a mixed soup of nine types of sprouted beans. Traditionally, the locals of Kathmandu eat this soup to keep their body warm and prepare for the coming winter. Kwoaati Punhi falls on the same day of Janai Purnima. Kwoaati soup is a good mixture of taste and health benefits. It gives loads of energy and heat to the body. And for those suffering from cold and cough and the pregnant women, the locals will highly recommend this enrich soup.
You can also try these Newari foods too:
- Aalu tama: curry made of potatoes and soft bamboo shoots
- Bhutan: fried intestine and other abdominal parts
- Haku chhoyela: spiced ground meat, broiled
- Manaa Chhoyela: spiced ground meat, steamed
- Seyn:laa mu: liver, steamed and sautéed
- Swon: lungs filled and steamed/fried
- Meyn: tongue pieces, steamed/ fried
- Dhau: local delicious curd
- Sekuwa: grilled meat