You’re 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 hungry. Perhaps even, a little adventurous and traditional Nepali food is not cutting it. So now what’s next on the menu you ask? How about you take a bite out of some of the weirdest food in Nepal?
The five foods I talk about may seem weird to you, however, they all have cultural significance; and actually quite tasty once you have tasted them. These dishes are geographically unique to Nepal and implore a wide mixture of Nepali spices and indigenous knowledge to make them delicious.
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?
Let’s start our weirdest food in Nepal roundup with Sapu Mhichā.
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.
Looking to try a Newari dish a little less weird and a lot sweeter? Have a look at my Yomari blog for a delicious treat!
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 to 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 enjoy this unique cuisine, however, it was a pass for me. But it 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 restaurants 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 other unique and traditional delicacy of the Newars, Phokso Fry – which means Fried Lungs – is available throughout many of the old parts of Kathmandu.
Made from goat lungs, the dish provides a pleasant and soft meaty texture in every bite. Nicely seasoned with salt, chili powder and cumin powder making the crispy and golden brown lungs, taste delicious!
How is Phokso (lungs) made?
The lungs must be 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 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 in Patan, Baktapur, or Kritipur to enjoy the authentic traditional taste.
3. What is Ghonghi:
Naturally, some food such as Sapu Mhicha, and Phokso make many heads turn away, but Ghonghi is one of the most liked delicacies by the Tharu community of the Terai. As well as the various tourists traveling to Chitwan or Lumbini. Coming in at number three on our weirdest food in Nepal, Ghonghi is very similar to the French dish, escargot.
However, when preparing Ghonghi in Nepal, the entire snail is cooked and served with ground linseed soup. Typically, 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 in Nepal is during paddy season when women and children are seen busy collecting snails from the nearest water sources. Then, the tail of the snails is 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 of 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.
Want to learn more about how rice is used in Nepal? Then check out my blog about the different ways rice is used in Nepal!
Where can you eat Ghonghi?
Ghonghi is quite difficult to find in the city, but if you travel to 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 a combination of a variety of boiled and fried meats of the water buffalo. This cuisine is mainly enjoyed during weddings 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.
Want to learn more about Newari festivals? Then Have a look at my festivals in Nepal blog!
How is Pukala made?
Pukala is made by boiling a variety of parts of the water buffalo. These meats are the 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 in Patan, Bhaktapur, and even around the Thamel area. 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 the holy water of the Ganges River, and the other is 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.
Sources claim that cow urine can be used for medicinal purposes and is an important component of Ayurvedic medicines in Nepal and India. As weird or gross as 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 popular for medicinal reasons as well as with some religions in Nepal.
Weirdest Food in Nepal Takeaways
Did you get to try all of the weirdest food in Nepal while traveling through the country? 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 it’s 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!
FAQs: Weirdest Food in Nepal
Sapu Mhichā, which translates to “tripe bag” in the Newar language, is a dish originating from the Newa community in Nepal. It consists of buffalo leaf tripe filled with bone marrow and is considered a special delicacy of the Newa cuisine in the Kathmandu Valley, typically served during special occasions.
Ghonghi, a delicacy highly cherished, are mud-water snails found in paddy fields and streams. They are cleaned, boiled, and prepared using an assortment of spices. As a delicacy, Ghonghi is consumed by Tharus and other indigenous individuals across the Terai region.