Is there any difference between Nepali and Indian food? This is a common question that often arises when comparing the two cuisine. It’s a common misconception that these two cuisines are identical or similar.
As someone who has studied in India and is a Nepali, I have had the opportunity to explore both Indian and Nepali cuisine. I can confidently say that there are similarities between the two cuisines, but there are also notable differences.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some key differences between Nepali and Indian food.
One of the most noticeable differences between Indian and Nepali cuisine is the use of bread. Indian cuisine often features bread like naan or chapati, which are absolutely delicious.
Meanwhile, Nepali cuisine uses less bread and focuses more on rice and dhedo as a staple.
Additionally, Nepali food tends to be less sweet than Indian food, with sugar and other sweeteners being used sparingly or not at all.
Here are the main difference between Nepali and Indian food.
Both Indian and Nepali cuisine have regional variations that make them unique.
In India, the cuisine varies widely depending on the region. For example, the cuisine of North India is known for its rich and creamy curries, while South Indian cuisine is known for its spicy and tangy flavors.
Similarly, Nepali cuisine is diverse and varies on the region it comes from. Tibetan and Chinese cuisine influences the hilly region’s cuisine and has some dishes like yak meat, momos, and thukpa.
On the other hand, the Terai region’s cuisine is influenced by Indian cuisine and has lots of lentils, rice, and veggies.
Overall, both Indian and Nepali cuisine is heavily influenced by their geographical location and cultural history, resulting in unique and diverse cuisines that are beloved around the world.
Ingredients and Spices
Indian and Nepalese cuisine share many common ingredients, such as rice, lentils, and spices. However, there are some differences in the ingredients and spices used in these two cuisines.
- Spices: Indian food is usually spicier and has more of a mix of spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder. But, Nepali food uses fewer spices and usually not as spicy as Indian food. Also, some other things you might find in Nepali food are fenugreek seeds and Sichuan pepper.
- Ingredients: Indian cuisine uses a wider variety of ingredients, including dairy products like ghee and yogurt, while Nepalese cuisine doesn’t. Another difference is that ghee (clarified butter) is often used in many Indian dishes but not as commonly in Nepali cuisine.
Indian and Nepali cuisines use similar cooking techniques like frying, roasting, and steaming. However, Nepali cuisine is more inclined towards simple cooking methods, such as boiling or stir-frying, whereas Indian cuisine involves complex cooking techniques, such as tempering, marination, and slow cooking.
Type Of Food
Vegetarian vs. Non-vegetarian
India has a large vegetarian population, so Indian cuisine has a wide variety of vegetarian dishes. However, Nepali cuisine is evenly vegetarian and non-vegetarian with popular meat dishes like momos, sukuti, and choila. Both cuisines have various vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, but the ratio varies.
Rice is a staple food in both Nepali and Indian cuisines. However, bread such as naan, roti, and paratha in India is also a staple food. On the other hand, Dhedo is a staple food in Nepalese cuisine, especially in the hilly regions. It is prepared from flour, usually buckwheat or millet flour, and is often served with a side of vegetables and lentil soup (dal bhat).
Both Indian and Nepalese cuisine has a wide range of unique dishes that are popular among food enthusiasts. Here are a few popular dishes from each cuisine:
- Butter Chicken: This is a popular Indian dish made of marinated chicken cooked in tomato-based sauce with butter, cream, and spices.
- Tandoori Chicken: This dish is made by marinating chicken in yogurt and spices and then cooking it in a traditional tandoor oven.
- Palak Paneer: This vegetarian dish is made with spinach and cottage cheese in a creamy sauce.
- Biryani: This is a popular rice dish made with various spices, meat, and vegetables.
- Momo: This is a popular Nepalese dish that is similar to dumplings. They are filled with ground meat, vegetables, or cheese and are usually served with a tomato dipping sauce.
- Dal Bhat: This is a staple Nepalese dish made with lentil soup (dal) and rice (Bhat) with a side of vegetables and pickles.
- Chatamari: This is a traditional Nepalese dish similar to a pizza. It is made with a rice flour base and is topped with meat, vegetables, and spices.
- Choila: This is a spicy Nepalese dish made with grilled meat (usually chicken or buffalo) and various spices.
In summary, while Nepali and Indian cuisines share similarities due to their geographical proximity and historical ties, they also have unique differences that set them apart.
From the use of spices and cooking techniques to staple foods and regional variations, each cuisine has distinct characteristics that make them worth exploring. I highly recommend you try both cuisines and appreciate the flavors and textures they offer.