Before traveling to Nepal for the very first time, back in 2011, I was kind of worried about the food I would eat there. My first days were spent carefully placing each bite of food in my mouth, constantly expecting to get violently sick. It never happened. I was healthy throughout the trip. I was also happy to find out my mother in law cooks very tasty food, and just for me, she avoided using too much chili. Food was amazing (and still is).
Coming to Nepal for the second time, I felt much more confident I will enjoy the food scene here. I was more willing to go out and explore restaurants and different types of food. I shamelessly devoured all my mother in law cooked. I would’ve done the same with mangos, but they were not in season then.
This time around I hardly ever think of getting sick. I do think twice before I eat out, and try to pick places that seem sanitary. I always jump with joy when I see another foreigner sitting in the same restaurant. The other day was my first day not to drink bottled water in a restaurant. Well, actually, let me take that back. It still was bottled water, it just came from a big jug, a water dispenser. I drink that water at home, but when I go out I always order bottled water (conveniently called mineral water here, no idea why) and open it myself at the table. Well, I ventured out and drank the jug water. I am so wild.
Anyways, I intended this post to be about food, so here it comes. As mentioned, my mother in law cooks very tasty food. Every morning before she leaves for work she spends time in the kitchen preparing lunch. Or actually it’s more of a breakfast. Well, breakfast for her and Mr.B. and lunch for me. They eat the whole DBT deal early in the morning, whereas I choose to stick with toast or oatmeal for my early trips to the kitchen.
Daal-bhaat-tarkari (DBT) is the staple food of Nepal. Everyone knows that. For those who don’t, daal stands for lentils, bhaat for rice, and tarkari for vegetables. So in short, every Nepali meal consists of a heaping serving of rice, lentil soup and various vegetables. Sometime there is meat on the menu, but now that the bird flu is claiming lives of innocent chicken, meat has been an even rarer commodity. I don’t miss it much. I am realizing that I could easily become vegetarian, especially here where the varieties of vegetable are bountiful.
One of the all-time favorites on my “favorite vegetable to eat in Nepal cooked by mother in law” list is pumpkin. You can see it on the picture below. It’s the orange mash. It’s followed by okra in any form or shape, and zucchini. The other day was a holiday here in Nepal which apparently marked the end of summer and first day of winter. On that occasion a soup has been made. And not just any soup. It was a sprouty bean soup. A variety of beans have been soaked in water and then left for some days to grow small sprouts. After that it was made into a soup. A delicious soup that I had today again (for the fourth time in the past three days I believe).
Sometimes I get so tired of eating rice every single day. I wonder how Nepalis do it. On those days I cook my staple food – pasta, or potatoes. But who wants to read about that. This is, after all, a post about Nepali food. Nepalis traditionally eat their food from brass plates (like the one in picture 1) and with their hands. I have to mention though, food, and especially rice, is piping hot so really their hand eating habit is quite impressive. I always choose the fork. Or a spoon, depending on availability.
There is, naturally, Nepali food I don’t particularly enjoy. But I’ll save that some other post. Right now, I’ll just savor the taste of the sprouty soup. Is there a Nepali expression for Bon Appetite? If so, insert here.