Monday, March 26, 2018

Tummy-safe foods in Nepal?

I'm not a big fan of food, so I'm not so keen on Nepali foods. So, because I know I'm not alone in this I'm going to tell what to order to avoid problematic local food. The food is almost all heavily spiced. It can cause every kind of intestinal issue from various degrees of heart-burn, or your body might just not know what to do with it, which can last throughout most of the night.

If you have a sensitive digestive track, don't let it keep you from enjoying Nepal. Here are a few safe suggestions on local foods that are more forgiving on the western digestion:

Veg burger and fries comes on a bun with lettuce, onion and tomato. The burger is chopped, boiled vegetables held together with potato and maybe a bit of flour and fried. The fries can be cooked in old grease and will almost never have salt added. Ask the waiter if they have the buns or if he will have to go out to buy them. So often I'd sit there for an hour and a half waiting for a simple veg burger only to find they had to go looking for the buns.

Veg sizzler in a unique sauce

The veg cutlet is the same as the veg burger, but usually a bit larger and served without the bun.
Veg sizzler is a veg cutlet served on a bed of spaghetti or rice smothered in mushroom gravy with a side of sauteed, slightly crunchy vegetables and fries. You'll hear it when it comes out by the sizzling sound.

Chatamari (Newari pizza) is a crispy, flat bread with vegetables chopped fine and probably heated in an oven. It's pretty tasty and not so spicy. The meat version has keema, tiny sized chopped buff.

Samosa served with chickpea/garbanzo bean soup
Samosa is a fried potato/vegetable dumpling/pie that is usually offered at the open, local restaurants. It's usually a bit spicy, but really tasty and beyond cheap-20-30 rupee each. Be sure to ask if it's 'tato' (rhymes with hot-o) or 'hot.' Make sure you get them right out of the fryer. One time I brought a 'doggy bag' home for dinner and got so sick. It taught me a good lesson to make sure everything is hot and freshly prepared. I had a couple samosa for lunch and took two home. Either the bacteria had time to grow or the cook had dirty hands when he took it out of the grease, but I got so sick all night.

Aloo paratha with a side of slightly sweetened yogurt, pictured at the top. This is a flat bread stuffed with potato. It's usually cut into 6-8 servings that you will pick up and dip into the yogurt before eating.

Fried rice or briani is an easy choice with just a couple of cautions. Sometimes the rice is leftover for the fried rice. Bacteria love rice and the cook may not get it hot enough to kill the bacteria. Briani is like fried rice, but with extra things like cashew, raisins and larger veg chunks.
Chopsi is like chowmien but with dried/fried noodles

Veg chowmein served with catsup

Chowmein is usually served quickly, as is fried rice, but chowmein may be fried in old oil.
Avoid all meat while in Nepal. The refrigeration is not always used, the butcher-block is filthy, cooks don't always make sure it's fully cooked, and they can cross contaminate it with their dirty hands or dirty counter workspace.

'Peero china' if you don't want any spices added, but then the dish comes as plain as cardboard, so maybe it's better to say, 'peero oli oli ' as you hold up a thumb and finger to show a little bit.

For foods to avoid and for more information on staying safe in Nepal take a look at this post.

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