Eating, Nepali style
Every country has its own distinct cuisine. In the case of Nepal, there are several regional variations, but one dish has come to characterize the country’s cuisine: dal-bhat-tarkari. Dal is a lentil sauce that is eaten with the bhat (rice). Tarkari is a generic name for vegetable curry and can be prepared in different ways according to seasonal availability of vegetables and local preferences. It is often served with achar (pickles) to enhance the taste. Meat curry is also popular, especially on special occasions and festivals. Momo (stuffed dumpling) is another favorite of many Nepalese.
A cup of tea usually starts the morning, followed by substantial brunch late in the morning. Dinner is often eaten late too. Generally it’s the right hand that is used for eating, handling and passing food or drink. Eating or handling things with the left hand is regarded as taboo.
Typically, you will often be given a plate of dal-bhat-tarkari (along with pickles), with refills periodically served until you have eaten enough. In the traditional way of eating in Nepal, people sit squatting on the floor on straw mats called “sukul”. It is considered taboo to eat from other peoples’ plates, so everyone eats from their own plates. When you need second helping, someone (most often a woman of the family) who is not eating at the moment will do the serving as it is considered inappropriate for someone to eat and serve at the same time.
Now let’s check your understanding of Nepali words (related to eating, of course).
What are the English equivalents of the following?
Now some questions to see whether you’ve understood Nepali eating style correctly.
What is the significance of dal-bhat-tarkari?
Why is achar used with dal-bhat-tarkari?
Is meat curry a part of Nepali cuisine?
Describe the traditional way of eating in Nepal.
What things related to eating are considered taboo in Nepal?
What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?