On this workers’ day, we took an initiative in noting what this hard-working class eats, usually, in different parts of Nepal. This is a generalized notion depending on the cuisine found on distinct parts of Nepal and it’s more to do with what people, in general, eat in three distinct geographical regions of Nepal. While, we see them taking Chiya and doughnut, around Kathmandu, it’s not to say that they don’t at all have chowmein and mo:mo(preferably buff), but it’s not that frequent. So, let’s see what dishes are present in the meal platter!
Daal-bhat-tarkari is the diet of Nepalese all over Nepal, despite any geographical barriers. Daal is soup of lentils and spices. Instead of bhat(rice), they also rely on Dhindo – a traditional food of Nepal. Other grains consumed are, wheat as flatbread (roti), Maize, Buckwheat, Barley or Millet as porridge-like dhindo. Tarkari(curry) usually contains gundruk (fermented spinach), greens, potatoes (mostly), green beans etc.
While Brahmins were previously known to shun non-vegetarian items, time is changing and now they have cuisines prepared from animals, once in a while, usually on Saturdays. However, Hindus don’t have beef (mandatory) or pork (optional).
Laborers in the hilly region also consume local Newari cuisines, guaramari (deep-fried flour), chatamari (flatbread made from rice) and bara (flatbread made from ground soaked-lentils).
Images: bara(left), guaramari and black tea(right)
This cold region is highly influenced by Tibetan cuisine. Buckwheat, millet and barley are processed into noodles or tsampa, made from toasted grain. Butter tea, usually, replaces ubiquitous milk tea which is prepared by mixing butter (ghee) and salt into strong tea.
Images: tsampa(left), butter tea(right)
Laborers also take alcoholic beverages, made from fermented grains, and are consumed every day due to cold weather. However, this doesn’t mean the consumption is only abundant in Himalayan region; when it comes to booze, there’s no limit.
For non-vegetarian meal, people termed “lower castes” consume Yak and Yak-cow hybrids (jhopa). All the castes take a diet of local sheep called Bheda , chyangra or Chiru, imported from Tibet.
Cuisines in Terai region is highly influenced by adjacent areas in India, Bihar and Bhojpur. Roti is the staple diet in this region. Daily diet encompasses flatbreads made from different kinds of whole grains like wheat roti, corn roti, maduwa (barley flatbread), litti (gram flour flatbread) or parathas, accompanied by varieties of chutney(made from dried mango leaves mostly, or just spices, to name some). For snacks and breakfast, along with tea, deep fried vegetable fritters (pakoras) are usually consumed.
Images: litti-chokha(left), pakora(right)
In terms of non-vegetarian items, fish is quintessentially consumed. Furthermore, in Tharu community, Ghonghi, similar to French escargot, is taken with linseed soup and Dhikri (rice flour). This “delicacy” is regarded to be extremely healthy as well and is also taken when one’s suffering from any problems. Moreover, people in Musahar community, consume rat or mouse.
Tea is taken all over Nepal, however, in hilly and terai regions, milk tea dominates while in Himalayan region, Ghee-salt-tea is abundant. In terai, buttermilk (mohi), sarbat (juice of fruits, especially sugarcane) are also chugged during summer.
These include raksi and jaad, spirits and homemade beer made from rice, respectively. At higher altitudes, millet beer (tongba or chhaang) is consumed.
Images: Newari chhaang(left), tongba(right)
It is not to mention that laborers relish all the mentioned varieties of cuisines; while their diet is solely dependent on the wage they get in a day, the geographical areas have a lot to contribute to their daily meal, regardless of the quantity.