As a part of our ongoing Nepal Food Series, we are at Bhaktapur or the City of Devotees to explore its unique food traditions. It is named so as it has three major squares full of towering pagoda-style temples that boast of some of the finest religious architecture in the country. The remarkable structures- with exquisite wood carvings and metal craft- pervading the cityscape, transported us to ancient times. Moreover, the car-free city center is a happening spot teeming with tourists and locals. As you stroll down the street, you discover how art and craft occupy a significant place in the culture of Bhaktapur.
In this gastronomic exploration, we are joined by our foodie host Kamal Bhatta who has deep knowledge about the culture and traditions of this place. The dishes available here on the streets is mostly Newari food. Come let’s see what all did we try.
Before starting for Bhaktapur, we relished some popular street-side breakfast items at the main marketplace in Kathmandu. We bought some Gwaramari (round, fried sweet bread), Malpua, Sel Roti (ring-shaped, sweet rice bread), Jerry (similar to Jalebi), and Swaari (thin, soft puri). These were accompanied by milky tea just like the locals prefer. The most delightful thing about the eating experience was witnessing them being prepared fresh. The dishes were simple, familiar but yummy and filling.
On reaching Bhaktapur, we embarked on a pleasant stroll down the lanes of this heritage city in search of yummy food. Our first stop was a sweet shop where we tried Balbara and Gudpak. The first one is a sweet, crisp, deep-fried, sugar-glazed flatbread while the second one is a traditional fudge-like sweet made with khoya, gond, ghee, nuts, etc.
Next, we passed by another sleepy lane where people-kids, young and old-were relaxing on the raised verandah of the traditional buildings, to have fresh and hot aloo chop or potato fritters. We loved the mildly spiced fritters that were served with a spicy chutney.
Our next food destination was an eatery at Kamalvinayak, whose Choila, Thon, and Aloo Tama are quite popular with the locals. Choila which is a meat-based appetizer was lip-smacking. No wonder it effortlessly complimented the traditional rice-based alcoholic drink Thon or Chyang. Aloo Tama, a delicious curry made with potatoes, bamboo shoots, black-eyed peas, etc. was delicious too.
After that, we went to try the famous Juju Dhau or the iconic ‘King Curd’ which is one of the must-try delicacies in the region. We were bowled over by the thick, luscious, velvety, and creamy texture of this buffalo milk curd.
Our last food destination was Bhetghat restaurant in Kathmandu which serves a very special meat dish called Taas. The crisp and tender shallow fried meat pieces are eaten with puffed rice and radish pickles.