Recently, after finishing the Himalayan Travel Mart press trip, a group of us teamed up for a walking food tour of Kathmandu. If you follow the blog, you know I love walking food tours and have enjoyed them in Morocco, Hong Kong and Istanbul.
Joining me were Stephen and Nadja of A Backpackers Tale, Steph from Every Steph, Raphael from Journey Wonders and last but not least- our patient and knowledgeable local guide Bhisma, who probably had no idea what he was getting himself into when he signed up to take a group of bloggers on a tour.
We met at a central meeting point, which was great because it would be the only moment of the tour where I knew exactly where I was. Hands down, my favorite thing about this tour is that other than one stop for a lassi drink, we would never have been able to find any of the locations on our own.
Each stop was down some narrow, winding alley. We followed our guide through complicated streets, ducked under half walls, and crossed hidden courtyards in search of the best local food.
Our first stop was the perfect example of this. Down a maze like alley and up a dark set of narrow stairs, we found a group of local women hard at work.
They sat crouched around pans and large flat top cooking surfaces expertly grilling and flipping what looked like pancakes.
We all sat and watched as they worked, passing out dishes on a first come, first serve basis. And what we were served was definitely worth the wait. This dish is known as bara, which are spiced lentil patties. These were served with potatoes and I, of course, doused mine with a spicy sauce.
At the same shop, we were served yomari, a Nepalese sweet. Yomari is a steamed dumpling filled with two different fillings. Half contained sweetened milk (khuwa) and the other half concentrated sugar cane.
To be honest, this was the only food from the tour that I didn’t care for, but that’s probably because I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I actually would have preferred a second serving of the spicy lentil dish!
Back down the stairs, through the busy streets and down yet another alley, our next stop was one I knew I was going to like. If you’re following me on social media, you know I’ve been stuffing my face with momos since the plane touched down.
Momos are a different, savory type of steamed dumplings. Though they originated from Tibet, they are now a Nepalese staple food. You can find momos filled with many different combinations- chicken, cheese and potato, pork, etc. I even found Bolognese momos, which weren’t great. At all.
I knew I would love the type of momos from this tour because I’ve had it so many times: buffalo momos. It may sound odd, but because the majority of Nepalese are Hindu, buffalo is the most common meat, more so than even chicken.
And, just as I expected, these were amazing. Bite size dumplings filled with minced meat and covered in a spicy sauce.
Again, we followed our guide, this time ducking through a small doorway and emerging into a courtyard filled with people either standing around eating or waiting in line. I knew any place this full of locals and with a line in the middle of the afternoon must be good.
The vendors sold several different types of food, but we had come for what may be the largest samosas I’ve ever had. Samosas are a pastry like dough stuffed with a savory filling and then deep fried. These were served fresh and hot out of the fryer and had been filled with potatoes, peas, onions and cilantro (coriander) before being topped off with a slightly spicy/sweet sauce.
I loved the samosa- the filling was quite delicious. I probably could have done with a bit less of the sauce (again, the sweet tooth thing), but overall it was great. The filling was savory and hearty. Two of these could be a complete meal.
Also, I don’t know if you noticed the bowls from both the momos and samosa, but they are all natural, completely biodegradable bowls that seemed to be made from leaves. I was impressed to see they were being mindful of the environment.
Our next stop was perhaps the most interesting dish of the tour. Dahi Puri is a dish of flour-filled smashed potatoes topped with chutney, yogurt and red chili powder.
You’re meant to eat each one in just one bite. I really enjoyed these- the yogurt on top was especially good.
As the tour continued, we passed local points of interest and temples. Our guide enthusiastically presented the history of each of the sites and explained their relevance. I’ve always enjoyed learning about the background of a place while trying local dishes.
Next we stopped for lassi, a drink I’m familiar with. If you haven’t had lassi, it’s a yogurt based drink blended with water and spices. To be honest, I don’t usually care for lassi, but I really enjoyed this one.
What made this lassi so different that I liked it? It was topped with dried fruits and nuts. I would drink a lassi a day with what essentially amounted to trail mix added into it!
Our guide also told us this version contains Nepali butter which, though it may make it less healthy, also helps explains why I liked it more than other versions.
As we wound the tour down, we stopped for flavored sodas. The vendor offered a host of different varieties of flavorings to add to soda water. Orange, lemon, ginger, medicinal, herbs, etc.
I opted for a classic lemon soda. It was extra fizzy and a great light drink after a few of the heavier dishes.
No tour in Nepal would be complete without finishing with a glass of tea. It was a great way to sit around and talk about the tour, debate our favorite dishes, and learn more about Nepali life in general.
When you’re visiting Kathmandu I highly recommend this tour. It’s a great way to try some of the best in local dishes from vendors known to have high standards while also learning about the city and its people.
Practical Information: Our guide made sure to take us to only well known places with high standards of cleanliness. Eating street food in any developing country can be sketchy, but not one of us reported any upset stomachs or the like after this tour. To book this tour for yourself please follow this link.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank Backstreet Academy for inviting me as their guest on this tour. Although the tour was complimentary all opinions remain my own, as always.
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