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Nepalese Pantry Must-haves! : A comprehensive guide for home cooks…

If you have ever been inspired by the Everest Cuisine experience enough to jump into exploring the eclectic and exotic world of Nepalese cuisine, stocking your pantry with essential ingredients and tools is only the first step.

Authentic Nepalese dishes rely on a blend of Indian, Chinese and Tibetan flavors and especially techniques, coming together to create complex yet balanced tastes.    

To master Nepalese cooking at home, here are the must-have pantry items and techniques you should focus on:

Spices: The backbone of any authentic Nepalese meal lies in an abundance of quality spices. Must-haves include garam masala, cumin seeds, turmeric, fenugreek, coriander, black peppercorns, and ajwain seeds. For optimal flavor, buy whole spices and roast them yourself before grinding them to a fine powder. Other common spices used generously are chili powder, asafetida, and cloves. A good variety of fresh and dried chilies like Kashmiri mirch, Kashmiri chana, and chili flakes will add fire to your dishes. And don’t forget ginger and garlic which form the base of most Nepalese recipes.

Herbs: Fresh and dried coriander leaves and ginger root along with dried fenugreek leaves, dried mint, and curry leaves. Dried mint lends a distinct aroma to soups and curries while fresh or dried curry leaves add earthy flavors. For garnishing dishes and marinades, cilantro, mint, and basil leaves should always be on hand.

Legumes and Grains: beans, lentils, and Rice form the staple diet of Nepal. Keep staples like red kidney beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, green moong dal, toor dal, and brown rice on your shelves. For snacks and salads, roasted chickpea flour or besan is a must-have.

Oils: high-quality mustard and vegetable oil along with ghee are required for cooking and taste. Use mustard oil for its rich nutty flavor while reserving ghee for tempering spices and adding that final finishing touch. Extra virgin olive oil works great for dressings and marinades.      

Dairy: Plain yogurt, traditionally made from buffalo milk, works wonders in marinades and gravies for authentic Nepalese dishes. For candy and desserts, condensed and evaporated milk are often used.

Noodles and Pasta: Noodles and pasta feature prominently in Nepalese versions of Chinese and Asian cuisine. Stock up on varieties like ramen, rice noodles, vermicelli, and chow mein noodles.

Stocks and Pastes: Homemade or store-bought stocks and pastes can significantly boost the flavors of your Nepalese dishes. Have on hand tomato puree and paste, coconut milk, chicken and vegetable broth, and readymade Nepali pastes like chili garlic paste and ginger garlic paste. For vegetarian dishes, a good quality veggie stock cube is useful.

Tamatar: This essentially means tomato and is the base of many gravies and curries in Nepali cuisine. Have cherry, plum, and heirloom varieties on hand for optimal flavor.

Tools: For preparing Nepalese dishes at home, your basic equipment list should include:

• Stainless steel wok •Cast iron kadai for making curries •Mortar and pestle for grinding spices •Rolling pin for making rotis and momos• Steamer pot for momos and dumplings• Spice grinder or blender for making pastes• Deep frying pan for frying snacks• Rolling mat for rolling out dough easily• Measuring cups and spoons• Wooden and slotted spoons for cooking • Tawa or griddle for making parathas

Techniques: Mastering a few key techniques will elevate your Nepalese cooking:

•Tempering spices – quickly cooking cumin, mustard seeds, and other spices in hot oil to release their flavors.

•Marinating meats -soaking meats in yogurt, spices, and herbs overnight for maximum flavor.

•Making ghee – clarifying butter to draw out its nutty flavors.

•Rolling momos and dumplings – folding the dough to make the classic Nepali snacks.  

•Balancing spice levels – adding heat gradually to ensure a well-rounded flavor profile.

Armed with the right pantry items, tools, and techniques, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master of authentic Nepalese cuisine right in your kitchen. With patience and practice, the complex flavors and vibrant aromas characteristic of Nepali cooking will soon become second nature. Dive in – your culinary adventure in the Himalayas awaits!


Craving flavorful vegetarian cuisine but tired of the usual humdrum
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