Monday, October 3, 2011

Nepali delicacies- you might not want to ask how they made that!

On my first few trips to Nepal i didn't struggle with the food. I ate anything they put in front of me. I am a big believer in eating local and the abundance of veg options made it easy for me to eat without to many problems. 

As i became less of a tourist and started eating with my Nepali family... well the last few weeks i was there i was reduced to eating cheese balls, two minute noodles, eggs and nutella sandwiches. The more i saw how things where made, where ingredients came from and how it is prepared the less hungry i was!

I watched the news and saw a story on how local dairies have been mixing milk with other liquids in order to increase products. This was a bit gross but when i saw footage from inside the dairy, unhygienic doesn't even begin to explain.

I walk past those butchers with the meat sitting in the sun all day and then when i get home there is the meat sitting on the kitchen table. No refrigeration, no covering, no concerns about flies, no cleaning... No way i am eating that. And they cook everything, bones, stomach, head, it all goes in the pot and onto the plate. 

Someone explain Gandruk to me. My understanding is you get some plants let them rot in the sun for a week or two then you put it in a jar, seal it up so it can get nice and moldy and then you feed it to your family?

Then i read this about Momos, i love momos. Bamboo, ferns, moldy plants, i am refusing to eat anything else that is considered a special Nepali dish! 


  1. Bahahaha, you can't really expect there to be a proper food inspection agency in Nepal. I would suggest that you buy your groceries, especially meat and dairy products, in a decent supermarket like Bhatbhatini or Bluebird.
    My dad says when he was a kid, they used to make a curry out of goat brains during this season. Luckily, that tradition died out by now haha. They also used to smash flower bulbs in the marijuanna plant and put a bit in a certain condiment. My grandma explained that it was for 'relaxation' during the festive seasons. They don't do that anymore either.

  2. I have the same feeling about food culture in nepal. One time I saw how made the cooker a chicken. Everythings becomes to be used. After this experience long time I ate rara noodle soup only.
    If I go along the streets and see to lie the meat into the sun......definatly I get a bad feeling.

    If I stay with my boyfriend in Nepal then we to buy our meat early in the morning, he told me its better, its more fresh......I can that belive? I dont know. But till now I have
    Regards Basundhara

  3. @ Kay in India: sadly in the town where we live there is no one-stop-store. If you want meat you have to go to a 'butcher'. And goat brains still get eaten in our house... GROSS.

    @Basuundhara: I think morning would be better. Less time for the meat to sit in the sun with insects crawling on it :) You are braver than me i just don't eat t!

  4. Gundruk is simply fermented leafy greens. It's similar to making cheese, yogurt, sour-dough bread, etc. (fermentation). If the gundruk is moldy, it's bad and shouldn't be eaten! The goal is to preserve vegetables for winter - cauliflower leaves, spinach, cabbage leaves, all can be made into gundruk. The leaves are left to wilt a bit, then they are packed in jars with some salt until they ferment (takes a few days). Then the result is spread out to dry, and then it's packed away, dried, for winter eating in soups, etc. Trust me, it's really good. But then, I like fermented food.

  5. I like cheese... gundruk is simply the most horrible thing i have had the displeasure to taste.

    I have seen it being made. I have use the kitchen while it sits for days fermenting. It is smelly and nasty looking but each to there own! I knew there would be somebody who liked it ;)

  6. Oh sorry :) I took you too literally! Too funny. Yeah, I like sour, weird tasting food, it's true. How about karela?? Different kind of weird. I love it!

  7. Ah yes, the Power News exposes! We saw a bunch of them on the internet in the US, and when I went with P's family to buy Dashain sweets I asked if that particular sweet shop was highlighted in the show and they said, "yes" without batting an eye. I said, "Are these safe to eat??" and they said " should be cleaner now" but I ate there in 2009 as well, and I have to admit, I had a few barfi this time too.

    This time (knock wood... I haven't reached hope quite yet) I didn't have any stomach problems, but we ate mostly at home, and I only ate veg food, so it worked for me this time.

    Good luck with food! It's always one of my biggest challenges in Nepal-- but usually its the quantity versus quality ;)

  8. Oh my god, the quantity. My friend Keshav served me huge plates of food. I started calling the rice pile "Sagarmatha." His sister-in-law tried the same, but finally I was able to convince them that, while I loved the food (and I even cooked some for them, too) I just couldn't eat what I would normally serve to four people! Seriously, I was beginning to think that eating was an endurance test. It took a serious effort of will.

    I ate some cafe food, some street food, juju dhau, and sweets - didn't get sick. I do wish I hadn't seen the Power News reports. :(

  9. LibrarianonaBike - thanks for explaining gandruk to me. I never understood what it was...but I have to say Amanda I'm with you, I can't believe my parents consider it a treat!!
    Have you tried yak's cheese?

  10. I managed to train my MIL by telling her my stomach was too small and i could only eat a pile of rice the size of my fist. I made it a game and whenever she would bring my food we would measure if it was the right size for me.

    This took weeks of explaining that i really liked food but my pet (stomach) was just derai saano (very small), at least i think that was what i was saying... they used to laugh a lot so maybe i was saying something else?

    We didn't get a lot of cow cheese. At first i didn't like Yak cheese but after months without any dairy Yak cheese became a coveted luxury!

  11. This is ridiculous and Amanda you’re just a little whiner. You have no gratitude how well your “nepali family” treated you but you come to the internet and bash about the foods. When I was in college my host family hardly fed me and was ok but I will not complain about them because they took me into their house and gave me shelter. I will always be thankful. I will try and address all of you without getting upset.
    Do you know what goes into cows in the US or elsewhere to produce so much milk? Have you seen documentaries how animals are treated and bred? They might have done some unhygienic things but they way food is altered around the world is nothing compared to that. I agree the idea of seeing meat sitting outside in the sun is new to you but its done around the world - it does not have to refrigerated as the are fresh meat so they last longer and usually by the end of the day its either sold out or the family will eat it to finish it. Do you know the foods you eat when they were harvested or slaughtered? How long have they been frozen before coming the super market? How come chicken in the US are size of turkeys? Ever wondered that? How come the cows here have so much meat ? Thought they all might me altered for commerce? How come fresh vegetables catch no insects because they are all genetically changed!! With me so far or did I lose you already?
    The flies part and cleanliness part I will not argue as I know some people in Nepal are not too good about it what you wrote was sweeping generalization. The pile of rice you get on your plate or sagarmatha as LibrarianonaBike on calls is because in Nepalese culture you make sure your guest is not hungry. Yes they might have over done it but please understand cultures before you open your mouth. I never had the luxury of being over fed so instead of whining learn to appreciate. I know Nepalese can be forceful but the way Amanda put it was very sarcastic more than anything.
    Kay in India:
    Have you heard of a proper food inspection agency in India? Both countries have it but are they implemented? Answer is NO. So before you pass out your judgments about Nepal know a little more about India..I know a lot about India is because I went to College in Delhi. Do you know what the Chinese eat or better question what don’t they eat? What your dad said still exists and some people like it some don’t. Do you know how much Americans and Europeans love ox tail ? (ox tail is not even out of ox it’s out of cows usually coz there’s not enough supply of ox) Do you know how dirty those tails are? If you drink Chinese tea please start reading the ingredients you might just enlighten yourself with some knowledge but again that’s challenge !
    Really ? If your biggest challenge in Nepal is food ? I wish that was my only problem in the US and Europe.

    Seriously you’re gonna disrespect your parents like that? You seriously need some old time parenting…Ok so how many kinds of foods have you had? Foods from around the world I mean. Google yak cheese and it will answer a lot of your questions. Just because sth doesn’t taste good to you doesn’t mean its bad you moron!

  12. I really love it when i get comments like this that not only insult me but the other people who were nice enough to comment on my blog. Usually i just ignore it but today i am bored so here we go.

    @Anonymous: Yes my post may have been a little critical but mostly it was just a personal opinion of the things I don't like to eat. As far as having no gratitude to my Nepali family, you will never know how grateful i am to them for inviting me into their house and allowing me to call it home. I am however allowed to comment on the fact that the food made me sick and i ended up in the hospital a number of times, not just from eating at home but in restaurants and cafes. AND since i paid the rent and for a lot of the food we all ate i am allowed to say I didn't like eating these things and getting sick.

    Yes i do know what goes into cows in the US but i am Australian and we do not have feedlots in this country. Also as my husband is Hindu i do not eat beef. I am a vegetarian so i don't eat meat at all but the one or two times i did eat meat in Nepali was when visiting people homes. I know meat is an expense many can not afford so to show my gratitude to them i would eat a piece or two. This usually resulted in me getting sick. If you had read my post about Monsanto in Nepal you would realise i do wonder about thing like genetically modified foods and i am very alarmed about them... this is why i eat organic whenever possible but i guess you didn't do an research before you judged me.

    The lack of refrigeration in meat shops is not a generalization. Walk down most streets and you will see meat sitting in the open. This is not hygienic. Dead animals covered in flies is not something anyone should be eating. I know some people have no choice but as i stated i did... i went with cheese balls instead.

    As LibrarianonaBike was pointing out in many western cultures we do not eat as much. This is a humorous comparison not a judgement of right and wrong. And living with my family every day i did have to go through a long process of teaching them how much i could eat. If you are Nepali then you would know once i touch the food it can not be eaten by others so i would always feel bad if i was given too much and i could not finish it. My comment was not sarcastic it is an actual account of what we did. Maybe it came across as unintentionally patronizing but the actions and words were not intended that way.

    I think Kay in India was actually trying to say i am an idiot for expecting there to be a food protection agency in Nepal. She was criticizing me through humor. Which i am 100% fine with. I like discussion.

    No i do not know any Americans or Europeans who eat ox tail. How many? This was post was not about which country had the best or worst food. It was about my difficulty finding clean food to eat... Can i add at the time i was pregnant and scared to eat many things as it was dangerous for me to be sick or hospitalized at that time.

    Food is a challenge for foreigners visiting Nepal. We get sick, we end up in hospital and we have to go home. Only Nepal is my home. I have been to hospital in Nepal 9 times in less than two years. There have been many other times i have spent a day or night curled up with my head in a bucket vomiting up food because someone didn't boil the water or wash their hands. Every time i eat it is a risk so don't disregard the challenges in my life just because they aren't the same as yours.

    Anonymous now you are being silly. Taswin did not say she didn't like Yak's cheese she asked if we had tried it and i said it was a luxury. You put the negativity into that part of the comments.

    Anonymous, i am fine with you disagreeing with me but at least be willing to sign your comments with a name or way to respond to you. It is hard to take someone seriously who won't even put their name on what they are saying.

  13. I wonder how fast Nepali people get offended...btw i am Nepali too.

  14. You can choose to be offended if you like but this was my experience in Nepal.