Newari Food

The Newars are an ethnic community that is indigenous to the Kathmandu Valley, although nowadays they are found living all over Nepal. The Newars are especially famous for their architecture and delicious cuisine. Food is very important to the Newar community and it is said that if they are presented with a buffalo, no part of it would be spared and all parts of it will be cooked in a delicious way. It is important to note that different dishes are always prepared for different occasions and the food has a symbolical significance, especially during festivals and feasts. There are many different ways to prepare the food, but it is usually cooked with a generous amount of spices such as cumin, turmeric, pepper, ginger, garlic, chilies, mustard oil, and seeds. Vegetables like potatoes, chickpeas, eggplant, cauliflower, lentils, bitter melon, and mustard greens are common. For meat, buffalo is the most common and most beloved, but chicken, goat, and dried fish are also common. The Newari staple is beaten rice, a dry variant of rice, known as chiura.

A staple Newari festival dish is the so-called Samay baji set. Usually, it is a dish that consists numerous smaller items such as:  baji (beaten rice), Haku musya (black soybeans), chhoela (smoked meat), puka-la (spicy roasted meat), Aalu achar (boiled potato marinated with pickle), bhuti (boiled beans with spices), khen (boiled egg), bara (black lentil squishy fried pancakes, lava-palu (ginger and garlic), achar (pickle), wauncha (green vegetables) and aaila or thown (local alcohol beverages similar to wine). Typically, by the end of the dish, curd and salad (carrot, radish, cucumber, green peas, etc) are offered in order to help with the digestion.

Other famous dishes that can be eaten as snacks as well are bara and chatamari. As already said, bara is also commonly included in the samay baji set, but it can also be relished separately as a light meal. It is made of lentils, soaked in water overnight and ground into the paste. Upon seasoning the paste with numerous spices, the paste is fried in a round pan. There are many types of bara: egg bara, chicken bara (pate mixed with ground meat), buff bara, mixed bara and so on. Sukuti is another pancake-like dish, made of rice flour. It is prepared the same way as the bara, in a frying pan, and it can be mixed with different ingredients to get different types: minced meat, vegetables, eggs etc. Sukuti is the Nepali style of making dry meat (jerky). It is usually buff meat, first marinated in a mixture of delicious spices and then left to dry for an extended period of time. It is usually served either as a side dish to the samay baji set or separately as an appetizer. If it is too spicy for your taste, squeeze a bit of lime juice on it, in order to make it milder and enjoy it with a glass of traditional Aila (rice wine). 

Newari food can be easily found in every corner of the Kathmandu Valley. It is impossible to list all of the food items that this wonderful cuisine offers and that leaves you a bit of space to explore and find something that you will like. Nearly all of the restaurants and local snack bars have at least one Newari item on their menu, so go out there and relish the different tastes of the Valley.