Nepal is a country that boasts a diverse variety of traditional ethnic cuisines. From Newari to Tibetan to Thakali, the options are endless. But there is something about Nepali street food that makes it so damn tempting. Its rustic nature, convenience and availability, all play their roles in its high popularity. And popularity comes a high demand for both quantity and variety. Fortunately, Kathmandu is well equipped in both regards.
You can just take a casual walk through the Kathmandu streets and you will come across at least a dozen food vendors. You probably won’t see a food truck in Nepal but you will find food carts almost everywhere. And, we are here to provide you with a proverbial menu of the food.
So, here is a list of 10 best street food in Kathmandu that you need to try.
If you are looking to bombard your palate with a bunch of different spices, this is the way to go. To break it down, laphing is a cold noodle dish made from potato or flour starch. Most restaurants serve it with chilly sause that is very spicey. Garlic, onion, coriander and vinegar all boost its flavour, and make it even spicier.
You won’t have to wait long in for it to arrive since it is quick and easy to serve. The first bite may overwhelm you with its flavours, so be warned. It is a widely popular street food throughout Kathmandu and finding it won’t be a difficult task. So, if you are looking to bombard your palate with a bunch of different spices, this is the way to go.
Momo is arguably Nepal’s most popular street food since an average Nepali consumes about four plates per week. That’s about 40 of these! You can find this dish in most Kathmandu streets, from luxurious hotels to average-size restaurants to road-side carts.
Momo is a Nepali-style steamed dumpling, with a flour wrap meat stuffed in. And there are so many variants that you will be spoilt for choices. There are the ones with different types of stuffing, with chicken momo, buff momo, pork momo and veg momo being the most popular. Each of these is, available in their own variants and served with different varieties of chutney. You can have them steamed, fried, with soup, as kothey; the possibilities are endless.
Most street food items are notorious for being unhealthy, aren’t they? However, there is possibly one exception. Bara is a traditional Newari snack which is relatively healthy compared to other fast foods. It is a light and spongy patty resembling a small pancake and made from black or yellow lentil.
You can either have the regular deep-fried bara or have its pan-fried version, woh. Also, it is a vegetarian dish. So, you can have it plain or with meat and eggs fried along with it. It is a very cheap dish that you can have on the go.
If you are dying for some barbequed meat, there is no better place you can visit than a restaurant that serves some sekuwa. You can easily find one since most have their grills fired up right outside their door.
It carries a distinct Nepali flavour to it because of all the spices used. You can opt for any one out of chicken, buff, and mutton. Or you can have all of them at once. We’ll leave that to you. Just grab a pint of beer along with it and relax.
Imagine the day is cold and gloomy and you want something that is warm and fulfilling. What do you do then? The answer should be that you go and get a bowl of thukpa for yourself.
It is a Tibetan noodle soup and consists of boiled noodles with delicious broth as well as vegetables and shredded meat. Spicy garam masala makes it spicy to the brim. So next time you feel a little cold, get yourself a bowl and slurp your way through.
If you are not that hungry and want something light, chatamari is the street food for you. It is a Newari pancake that is almost paper-thin and uses rice flour as the main ingredient. You can find it in eateries throughout Kathmandu.
You can also try different versions of it, each served with a different topping. The toppings include eggs and different types of minced meat. It is a versatile dish and people often refer to it as the Newari Pizza or the Nepali Taco.
Okay, enough with the spicy snacks. What do you do if you are craving for a sweeter street food? The answer is that you go for some sel roti. It visually resembles a slim doughnut, though it is anything but. Its base ingredient is also rice flour. It is slightly crispy and crunchy on the outside while soft and tender on the inside.
We recommend having a sel roti with your morning milk tea as it is a match made in heaven. It is the perfect food to start your day with. There are no arguments about that.
Carrying on with sweet dishes, Juju Dhau is something that you need to try if you are in Kathmandu. It is a traditional Newari variety of yoghurt, with the name literally meaning “King of Yoghurt”. It is very sweet and has a thick custard-like texture that melts the moment it enters your mouth.
You can find dairy shops selling it in tiny or large clay pots across the valley. You can just grab a hold of one and have it on the go as you stroll around the city.
Samosa is another one of easy takeaway street food found in Nepal. It is not very different from the Indian version. It is a deep-fried dish that comprises well-seasoned mashed potato stuffed inside a salted dough wrap. The stuffing also includes peas, onion, ginger and chilly.
It is another food item that tastes best with a cup of tea. Having two of this golden brown snack is enough to leave you with a sense of satisfaction.
Pani Puri is probably the easiest street food on this list to find in Kathmandu. All you need to do is to go to any busy street and you probably will find vendors selling it. It has basically two elements to it which are, as you might of have guessed, pani and puri. The heavily seasoned water is the pani while the puffed, crisp deep-fried bread is the puri.
A vendor packs the puri with stuffing, dips it in the pani and serves it. The stuffing contains seasoned potato, onion and chilly. We must warn you that it tends to be very spicy, so be prepared.