You are a foodie visiting Nepal and you have already eaten everything on our Best Street Food in Kathmandu round up. But, you’re not quite satisfied yet, you still feel a little hungry, and adventurous. So now what’s next on the menu you ask? How about you take a bite out of the weirdest food in Nepal?
The five foods we are going to talk about may seem weird to you, however, they all have cultural significance, and are actually quite tasty – once you get over the thought of them. The only thing about this list is that all five items are non-vegetarian – sorry veggies – and are made from water buffalo, goat and snails! The five weird food dishes in Nepal that we will be covering in this blog are:
- Sapu Mhicha – Buffalo stomach and bone marrow! Yummmmm right?
- Phokso – Goats lungs stuffed with a flour, egg and water mixture! Two plates please!
- Ghonghi – Fried snail, a Tharu Delicacy! Fried goodness!
- Pukala – Variety of boiled and fried meats of the water buffalo! Just in case you didn’t get enough water buffalo meat earlier!
- Cow Urine – Religious tradition amongst Hindus to drink cow urine. Thirsty anyone?
1. What is Sapu Mhichā?
The Newar community of the Valley uses all parts of the buffalo in their cuisine, and this dish of bone marrow and leaf tripe for some might be the most delicious or not too appetizing. It is a specialty dish of the indigenous community and is often said to serve a visiting son-in-law and also during Newari festivals.
How is Sapu Mhichā made?
To make Sapu Mhicha, layers of buffalo tripe are separated from one another and cut into small pieces, which are formed into small bags into which cubes of bone marrow are filled. Then the opening is tied with a piece of thread to close it. Then, the bags are boiled and fried.
Buffalo leaf tripe is cut into small pieces and the layers are separated to form bags. Diced bone marrow is stuffed into the bags and the opening is closed by tying it with a piece of thread. The bags are then boiled and then fried.
To eat Sapu Mhicha, you have hold the tied-off end and put the whole thing in your mouth. As you take a crispy bite, the outer layer releases the rich and velvet smooth melted bone marrow. Many people really enjoy this unique cuisine, however it was a pass for me. But it definitely is worth trying once, and hey who knows, who might even like it!
Where can you eat Sapu Mhichā?
To eat this delicacy, you can three main Newari restaurant that dominate the Patan area: Nandini’s Food Court (located in Swotha), Kwacha (Belachhen road) and Honacha (behind Krishna Mandir).
2. What is Phokso Fry?
Just like any another unique and traditional delicacy of the Newars, Phokso Fry which means Fried Lungs and is available in Newari restaurants. It can sound slightly intimidating but is is fluffy and tastes delicious!
How is (lungs) made?
The lungs must fresh and cleaned properly. Then a full set of lungs are filled with a batter of flour, eggs, turmeric, coriander, cumin, chili powder, salt, garlic and ginger. Then the trachea is sealed with a small piece of potato and tied with a kitchen string. The lungs are then boiled, sliced and then deep fried until crispy and golden brown. Before serving, the lungs are topped with salt and chili powder and served hot!
Where can you eat Phokso?
Phokso is available in many restaurants, however, you can go to any Newari restaurant to enjoy the authentic traditional taste.
3. What is Ghonghi:
It is natural that some food such as Sapu Mhicha, Phokso makes many of heads turn away, but Ghonghi is one of the most liked delicacy by the Tharu community of the Terai. It is similar to the French escargot, where it is served without having to snuck the snail out of the shell, but in Terai the whole snail is cooked and served with ground linseed soup. However, they cut the tail which makes it easier to suck the meat out of the shell after it’s cooked.
How is Ghonghi made?
The best time for Ghonghi is during paddy season, where women and children are seen busy collecting snails from nearest water sources. Then, the tail of the snails are cut before cooking so that it is easier to suck the meat out of the shell when it is cooked. The snails are boiled and cooked like any other regular curry. But the most important part their cooking is adding the ground linseed which helps to give consistency to the gravy and enhances the taste. Ghonghi is served with rice and this combination has been a staple food for the Tharu community for ages.
Where can you eat Ghonghi?
Ghonghi is quite difficult to find in the city, but if you visit Lumbini or any other cities in the Terai, there is plenty of places to try them out. It is a unique delicacy and we encourage you to try them out!
4. What is Pukala?
Pukala is a traditional dish of the Newar community and is combination of variety of boiled and fried meats of the water buffalo. This cuisine is mainly enjoyed during wedding and festivals and served after the main course but before dessert. Pukala is a mandatory item during festivals as food is an important aspect of any Newari rituals and traditions, and specific food preparations are necessary for feasts.
How is Pukala made?
Pukala is made by boiling variety of parts of the water buffalo. These meats are small intestine, liver, kidney, tripe, pancreas and spleen. The meat is sliced into one-inch pieces and fan fried and served with beaten rice and achaar.
Where can you eat Pukala?
Pukala is available in any Newari restaurant, however, I would suggest checking the hygiene of the place before heading to eat. Since these are different parts of the water buffalo, it is important to ensure that the meat is clean.
5. What is Cow Urine?
Probably never heard of and the most common weird food culture that exists in the country. Drinking cow urine is a common practice within the Brahmin community, and otherwise, too. It is a weird religious tradition that exists among the Hindus. There’s a belief that only two things are pure in the universe i.e. one is holy water of the Ganges River, and the other being cow urine. Additionally, the urine must be collected before sunrise and the cow whose urine is to be drunk must not have delivered a calf. Holyyyyyyy Cowwwwwww!
Sources claim that cow urine can be used for medicinal purposes and is an important component for Ayurvedic medicines in Nepal and India. As weird or gross it might sound, it used to be widely in demand in certain parts of the country. It sounds really bizarre but drinking cow urine is extremely popular from a medicinal and religious perspective.
Weirdest Food in Nepal Takeaways
Did you get to try all the weird food while traveling in Nepal? Or could you not stomach some of the food?
No matter if you tried them or not, just remember that these foods are special and important to the people eating them. No matter how gross or weird you may think the food is, the dishes are still culturally, and traditionally important! And let’s face it, no country is safe from not having a weird dish or two!
Take a look at these ‘weird dishes’ and give one a shot! You may not like the taste, but you will love the memory! Plus its fun for your friends, family and Nepalis around you to laugh as your face contorts because of the unique tastes!
If you are looking for some other dishes that are more your speed, have a look at our Traditional Nepali Foods you Must Try blog! Or if you are on the go and need a snack while traveling through Kathmandu, try one of the dishes we highlighted in our Best Street Food in Kathmandu – Fall in Love with the Taste article!