“A guide to snacks and street-food in Kathmandu”
The momos (also written as mo:mo) are the most popular snack in Nepal, and can be found in small eateries or street stalls a bit everywhere along Kathmandu streets. This small dumpling is made from wheat flour, filled with meat or vegetables, is one of the most popular snacks but is also common as a meal.
In Basantapur, there are a few places selling momos, easily identify by the big aluminium pan, with several trays, that usually stay outside the place. Most of these places just serve buff momos, but there are two places that serve vegetarian ones. One is more or less in front of the palace (Durbar Square), on the same street of Kumari House, a very small restaurant with seats just on the first floor, that offer an interesting view to the square. The name is just in Nepali.
Address: Durbar Square, few buildings further from Kumari House.
An other momo eatery, in fact, my favourite momos, is a street stall just in front of Teleju Temple, that serves buff, chicken and veg momos. The Makhan Top Mo:Mo is a very popular and the single bench available will probably be full, force you to eat standing. But still is a good opportunity to appreciate the vibe of the square especially around 5 o’clock, time that looks like all Kathmandu population is on the streets!
A bowl of 10 veg momo cost 60 rupees and is also possible to ask for takeaway.
Address: street stall in front of Teleju Temple.
The fry-momos, are a kind of Indian twist to the original recipe, and after steamed are deep-fry in oil, that give a crunchy feeling to the dough. They are not so popular as the steamed ones, but can be found on a back street of Basantapur (Kampukot Marg) that link to Yatkha.
Apparently originated from Middle East, the samosa is, without a doubt, a symbol of India gastronomy, especially in term of snacks, and is spread all over the country, as also in neighbouring countries. Nepal didn’t escape to the samosa invasion and this snack is easy to find in the small restaurants along Basantapur and Durbar Square.
My favourite samosa, without a name in western characters is located a few doors further from the Kumari House, just next to the momo place mentioned before. The place is far from being charming, and “clean” is a word that you can’t apply there, but the samosas are delicious, and can be served plain or a yellow dal curry. Spicy and oily but irresistible will they are still warm.
A samosa with curry cost 20 rupees. the samosas are always vegetarian in India and Nepal, usually filled with a spicy mix of potato and beans.
Address: Durbar Square, few doors further from Kumari House
Another popular Indian snack that is easy to find in Kathmandu is the samosa chaat, usually from lunchtime until evening. This snack is made with a samosa broken into pieces, and topped with onion, tomato, yellow peas dal, fresh coriander and curd (sweet yogurt) and seasoned with cumin powder, chili powder and Himalayan salt… and a few drops of lime.
But this is the recipe of the small and unnoticed place, the Jay Durga Chaat & Egg-Roll House, located in a back street (Dafter Marg) nearby the so-called Freak Street (Jhochhen Road), 5 minutes from Basantapur.
A samosa chaat cost 90 rupees, but can be found cheaper in hawkers near Teleju Temple at dusk.
Address: Dafter Marg, near Freak Street, Basantapur
The puris (small crunchy shell made from a very thin deep-fry dough) can be found a bit all over the city, usually hawkers specialized on this snack that show up at Kathmandu streets at the end of the afternoon. But these street stalls only have the pani puri, a spicier but less interesting version of the puris.
But my favourites are the dahi puri! It has the same base: puris stuffed with a potato and chickpeas mix but drizzled with yogurt (dahi), coriander and tamarind sauce, and seasoned with cumin and chilli powder. The result is a sweet and spicy mix, very yummy!
As the hawkers in Kathmandu only have pani puris, to find the dahi puri the best option is to walk a bit way from Basantapur, to Khechapukhu Sadak, somewhere between Sundhara e New Road, and look for a small stall in the center od the square, with the sign Khichapokhari Youth Club… usually surrounded by people that stop here for the snacks:
The puris are served in a plate with 6, and each one must be eaten in one bit… otherwise the juice will fill up your hand.
Address: Khechapukhu Sadak somewhere between Sundhara and New Road.
Although being easy to find vegetarian food in Nepal, the meat is quite popular and the sekuwa even more, as it can be eaten as a snack or as a meal, in the many eateries that grill the meat just outside the shop, feeling the air with smoke and the smell of the meat.
Could be made from different kinds of meat, seasoned with a red sauce, and cut in small pieces stick in bamboo and grilled in a wood fire. The sekuwa is usually eaten with puff rice.
Address: a bit everywhere around Basantapur
A drink made from yogurt, sweetened and chill with ice, that despite it Indian origin is quite popular in Kathmandu.
The Janakpur Dahi Lassi Bhandhar is probably the most popular place and it only sells lassi: big or small, with a topping of raisins, pistachio and caju. As there is no place to seat, people gather in front of the shop, but the pollution and the beeps of the traffic.
Small lassi: 30 rupees and big lassi 60 rupees.
Address: at Chandraman Singh Marg, nearby Indra Chowk.
Curd (Juju Dhau)
The curd is a rich and thick yogurt, usually with sugar that traditional was made in clay pot. Nowadays is possible to find curd in may places along the city, but the traditional one from Newari region, called Juju Dhau (king yogurt), made in a clay pots are not so common.
One of my favourite places is the Bhaktapur King Curd Shop at the end of Freak Street (Jhochhen Road), just near a junction of five streets. Here is possible to find the original King Curd from Bhaktapur, made from buffalo milk in clay pots or clay plates, sold in different sizes.
Address: at the end of Freak Street (Jhochhen Road) near the cross road of Jor Ganesh Galli with Nabahi Marg
Not far from Durbar Square, in the Guna Kamdev Marg, that leaves the square on the way to the south, there is also a very small place that sells good curd, also in clay pots.
These deep-fry rings, made from rice flour, are a very popular Nepali breakfast; are made and sold usually during the morning in small shops along the old part of Kathmandu.
They are a bit sweet and get crispy just after being made, which make them irresistible, but heavy for delicate stomachs.
Address: a bit everywhere around Basantapur, as for example at the bakeries along Guna Kamdev Marga
These are my favourite Nepali sweet… they don’t have much sugar, and despite being cooked in oil are not very that oily.
The Khajuri are made from wheat flour, sugar and ghee (clarified butter) and can be found in all bakeries during all the time, as they can last for quite a long time without loosing the crispy texture.
Address: at the bakeries along Guna Kamdev Marga, a few meters from Basantapur
The Laakhamari is a special bread made usually during the religious festivals, and is easily identify by is complex shape made looking like a complex and artistic knot. Made from a mix of flours, sugar and butter and deep-fry in oil.
After is usually covered with a layer of glazed sugar
Address: at the bakeries along Guna Kamdev Marga, a few meters from Basantapur and many other bakeries in Kathmandu.
Nepali doughnuts (donuts)
Almost so popular as the sel roti, the Nepali version of doughnuts is everywhere, from bakeries to small eateries. This deep-fry dough with the shape of a ring can be eaten plain or stuffed with cream.
Peas, beans, corn, chickpeas… all roasted and seasoned in a different way, usually with a salty and hot mix of species.
These snacks are always sold by hawkers and can be found a bit everywhere along Kathmandu streets.
Walking along Kathmandu streets I’m still surprised with something new in terms of food, prepared in the street or made in small eateries, sometimes so small that most of the things are cooked on the streets… sometimes is not easy to get the name or the ingredients… but here there a few more snacks!!!