Nepal Street Food – Deliciousness Abounds

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(Last Updated On: February 10, 2020)
A woman cooking Nepal street food

Nepal Street Food – Kathmandu Street Food Tour

Nepal street food is as varied as the number of people in Nepal who are cooking it. While we sampled most of these Nepali foods on a Kathmandu street food tour with Backstreet Academy (more about them below), since most of them are Nepali classics, you’ll be able to find them just about anywhere in the urban areas of Nepal. 

To mention a few…There are deep fried sel roti donuts and chewy sweet rice dumplings called yomari. Let’s not forgot the crispy and hollow fried dough balls filled with sweet water or yogurt – pani puri and dahi puri. There are savory bara – lentil pancakes. Their taste resembles falafel. And, while dal bhat is not really a Nepal street food, this lentil soup and rice is on nearly every street corner. So, it definitely deserves a mention. 

And of course, there are momos everywhere! We are not joking. They usually come filled with either buffalo meat, chicken or vegetables. And, this is just some of the street food of Nepal. 

If you’re keen to try any or all of these, read on. We’ll share with you all the information you’ll need to experience Nepal street foods. And of course, if you have any comments or questions, feel free to drop us a line below.

Nepal Street Food Safety

A man making nepalese momos
Momos being freshly made

Every country has unique food bacteria, and if you’re not accustomed to them, they can make you sick. If you’re on a street food tour, it’s safe to assume your guide has vetted all the eateries you will visit, so go on and eat with reckless abandon. However, if you decide to sample some Kathmandu street food on your own, you will need to vet the places on your own. Our three main tips are:

  1. Eat at places where there are a lot of other people. A restaurant and/or street food vendor likely won’t be popular if it’s making people sick.
  2. Eat food that someone has freshly cooked. Don’t eat items that have been sitting out for an undetermined amount of time. For example, eating samosas that have just come out of the hot frying oil or momos that have just come out of the steamer or frying pan are a likely much safer than eating ones that have been sitting out for any amount of time.
  3. Avoid food items that may include unfiltered water. To this end, you might not want to eat something such as pani puri (a fried dough ball filled with flavored water inside) unless you’re on a food tour and the guide has vetted the shop/stall.

Which Nepal Street Food to Eat

You could spend a lifetime sampling the numerous Nepal street food dishes. You could spend another lifetime sampling the countless varieties of each dish. So, to help you narrow down things a bit, we recommend the following six foods and places as a starting point. As an aside, we would have never found a majority of these places on our own without our food tour guide. They are all located down tiny back streets and are very much hidden, so consider taking a food tour if you don’t want to navigate the tangled web of streets that comprise Kathmandu. 

Savory Bara Pancakes

bara is a classic Nepal street food
Bara and potato curry

Bara is a classic Nepali appetizer, but we could have eaten enough to make a meal out of them. It is essentially a fried pancake made from a batter of mashed lentils and ginger, and typically, it is served with a side of curry. We were served a potato and soy-protein curry alongside our bara. The texture and taste of the pancakes reminded us of falafel. They were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, served hot off the tawa, and were absolutely scrumptious.

Where We Ate Bara:

Chewy Sweet Yomari

yomari is a sweet and chewy nepal food
The traditional egg shaped yomari

Yomari is an egg-shaped steamed rice dumpling. Traditionally, one fills it with either sweet condensed milk or molasses and sesame seeds.

The people of the Newar culture (the people who originally lived in the Kathmandu Valley) consider it a delicacy. Fortunately nowadays, yomari are available year round. We tried one of each variety, and the chewy texture of the outer rice dumpling combined with the not-too-sweet filling turned this treat into one of our new favorite Nepal street foods. 

Where We Ate Yomari:

Momos Momos Everywhere

momos are Nepal street food
We tried chicken, veg and buffalo momos.

While dal bhat is arguably the national food of Nepal, momos must be a close second. Literally, they are available everywhere. And, if on the off chance that you can’t find a place that serves momos, just wander for a moment, and you’ll find one. We promise. A typical order usually usually includes 7-10 momos, and at the time of writing cost anywhere from US$1.50 to US$2.00. Overall, we found the cost of food in Nepal quite affordable. 

So, what exactly is a momo? Well, since everyone and their brother makes them, there is no “official” answer, but if you can imagine either a steamed or fried dumpling filled with either chicken, buffalo meat or some sort of vegetables, you’ll be on the right track. To bring all the momo’s flavors together, make sure to dip it in the slightly spicy tomato chutney or the refreshing coriander chutney that will almost certainly be served alongside. At Shandar 5 STAR Momos we tried chicken, buffalo and veg Momos, and they were all delicious. 

Where We Ate Momos:

Succulent Tip Top Samosas

Nepal street food includes momos
Samosa with sweet and spicy sauce

Now, who doesn’t like a good Samosa? With a triangular cone of golden brown, fried crispy, puff pastry encasing perfectly seasoned curried potatoes and peas, this small meal or snack food is perfect at just about anytime of day.

a man serving samosas on our Nepal street food tour
Samosas coming up fresh and hot

Tip Top Sweets, an iconic Nepalese sweet shop, not surprisingly, serves their Samosas with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. We found it a bit too sweet for our liking, but we certainly understood how the two paired.

Where We Ate Samosas:

Crispy Dhai Puri and Pani Puri

dhai puri on a metal plate
Dhai puri

First things first, you can pronounce dhai puri /die poo-ree/ and pani puri, /pah-ni poo-ree/. Dhai means yogurt and pani means water. To make Puri simply deep fry unleavened wheat flour dough. You know it’s done when it’s golden brown and puffed full of air. Thus dhai puri is a deep fried hollow dough balled filled with yogurt, and pani puri is the same thing but filled with flavored water. Again, maybe let a food tour guide direct you to the stalls that use filtered water when making this snack.

a pani puri shop

This snack food is another Nepal famous food, so you ought to give some a try. It’s crunchy, sweet, and a nice way to take the edge off your hunger. 

Where We Ate Dhai Puri and Pani Puri:

Smooth and Creamy Lassi

a lassi on a Nepal street food tour
A smooth, creamy and sweet lassi

If you’ve never had a lassi, think “yogurt based milk shake.” If you have had a lassi then you know that the smooth, sweet, slightly tangy and creamy drink is both refreshing and filling. While outside of Nepal lassis are served either salty as a thirst quenching drink or sweet as a desert, in the context of Nepal street foods, lassis are only served as a sweet dessert. And to add to the sweet treat, on the top of your lassi it’s common to find golden raisins, cashew halves and a small piece of sweet cheese.

a lassi shop

In our opinion, your experience of trying street food in Kathmandu would not be complete without at least a sip of a lassi. 

Where We Drank Lassis

Consider Taking a Kathmandu Nepal Street Food Tour

one of the stops on our Nepal street  food tour
This is where we at momos. Not easy to find.

If you have clicked on any of the location links above, you’ve probably noticed that most of them are not easy to find. In fact, we didn’t find any of them ourselves. Instead, a guide with Backstreet Academy led us on a Nepal street food tour, and we highly recommend them. Our tour guide Aayam was friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating throughout our entire “Kathmandu Secret Food Tour.” So, if you’re eager to try Nepal street food, but you don’t want to fiddle around with your Google Maps app the whole time, get in touch with them for sure. 

Other Nearby Adventures

We were in Kathmandu because we were on our way to trek Ghorepani Poon Hill with our 8-month-old son P. If in addition to a culinary adventure you are keen for a physical one, consider a Poon Hill trek. If you’re looking for another city that is full delicious eats, consider Pokhara, as there are so many things to do in Pokhara. And of course, if you have any questions about all of this, feel free to leave us a comment below.

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