“If you can’t learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.”
-Rice and dal is the most common dish in India and Nepal, and locals typically eat it twice a day (breakfast is at around ten, and dinner is at six or seven. There is no lunch, usually just some biscuits and tea). Dal is a broth with a few lentils or beans and occasionally chickpeas, potatoes, or pumpkin. Usually with this dish you also get a small portion of curried vegetables which are always amazing. In India, this comes with roti (Indian bread) though in Nepal this seems to be much less common. This dish, which is always all-you-can-eat, costs anywhere from 70 cents to 1.50$ depending on where you are.
-Samosas. I have had my fair share of these during the last few months as they are easily found in every village and only cost seven to ten cents each. These fried snacks are always different, though they all have cooked potatoes mixed with a variety of spices, cilantro, and chilies inside.
-Other fried street food. There are dozens of other fried street food that are easy to find and cost no more than ten cents. Often there are potatoes involved, though I have even found pieces of cauliflower dipped in batter and then fried for a snack.
-Momos have become one of my favorite foods here and I have taken to buying a plate (which consists of ten momos and costs 35-50 cents) whenever I see them. You can choose to have them steamed or fried and they either have veggies or buffalo meat in the inside.
-Chowmein is very cheap and I often end up eating it as a mid-day snack. Usually for a plate it costs anywhere from 30-60 cents.
-Though I haven't found many local sweets I like, I have taken to jellybee which is a funny fried sugar syrup dessert. It usually costs five to ten cents for one like this, and since they are so sweet, one (or maybe two) is definitely the maximum I can eat. They are crunchy on the outside with a bit of sugary syrup still liquid in the inside.
-Fruit stands such as this have proven to be my favorite thing about this part of the world. I usually eat three or four bananas a day along with a kilo of oranges or three or four apples. A dozen bananas costs 50 cents, a kilo of oranges costs 40-60 cents, while a kilo of apples is more expensive at 1.00-1.50$.
That pretty much covers everything I have eaten in the last six months. Most of the time “restaurants” consist of a bench or two outside the shop, and sometimes a few tables behind the stove (or open fire). They definitely aren’t restaurants in the way we think of them, but I have grown to love them as they are fast, cheap, and always delicious. Normally one of these shops only serves one or two items, and the fruit, samosas, and other fried foods are typically found on carts by the side of the road.
Here is an example of a typical shop.
They always put out a water jug for everyone to drink from. After much practice, I can now drink the water without pouring it all over myself.
People don’t eat packaged food here. There are no super markets with noodles, precooked meals, or processed cheese (unless you are in Kathmandu…). If you want butter, you make it. If you want milk, go visit your cow. And if you want a meal, it comes from the ground or grows on a tree. It is a sustainable and healthy way to live, something all of us need to keep in mind next time we reach for a frozen pizza.