The traditional meal of the Newar community, who are the indigenous people that live in the Kathmandu Valley, which includes Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is known as Newari cuisine. Rich flavours, a variety of meals, and the use of unusual spices and ingredients are all characteristics of Newari cuisine. These are a few well-liked Newari dishes:

Yomari (Steamed Rice Dumplings): Yomari, also known as steamed rice dumplings, are a sweet dish made with dough composed of rice flour with sesame and jaggery fillings. Usually, Yomari Punhi festival is when it is made.

Momos (Dumplings): Although they are a common ingredient in many Asian dishes, Newari momos are known for their unique flavours. They are frequently served with achar (dipping sauce) and packed with buffalo meat.

Bara (Lentil Patties): Deep-fried lentil patties known as “bara” are usually made with black gramme (urad dal) paste. They have a soft interior and a crunchy exterior. Bara is frequently served with several kinds of chutney.

Gundruk: Leafy greens that have been fermented, typically prepared from mustard greens, are called gundruk. It has a distinct tangy flavour and is a necessary component of many Newari cuisines.

Sel Roti: It’s a classic rice-based food that resembles a doughnut. It’s created with sugar, milk, and rice flour, then deep-fried till crispy.

Newari Achar (Pickle): Newari food is well-known for its variety of pickles, or achar. Tomatoes, radishes, bamboo shoots, and other materials can be used to make them. They give the food a tangy and spicy flavour.

Kwati (Mixed Lentil Soup): Kwati, also known as Mixed Lentil Soup, is a soup composed of nine distinct kinds of sprouting beans. It is customarily consumed during holidays like Janai Purnima and Gunla and is high in protein.

Wo (Lentil Soup): Wo (Lentil Soup): Typically served during festivals and other events, wo is a thick soup prepared with lentils.

Yak Boudha (Buffalo Meat): Yak Boudha, or buffalo meat: Popular recipes like Sukuti, or dried and spiced meat, and Sekuwa, or grilled meat, feature buffalo meat as a common source of protein in Newari cuisine.

Kheer (Rice Pudding): Kheer, or rice pudding, is a dessert consisting of rice, milk, sugar, and a variety of spices and nuts. It is frequently offered as dessert during celebratory events.

The rich cultural legacy of the Newar population is reflected in the food, which is frequently connected to a number of festivals and customs. The originality of Newari cuisine is partly attributed to the utilisation of locally sourced ingredients and innovative cooking techniques.

History of Newari Cuisine

The history of the Newar people, the native occupants of Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley, is intimately linked to that of Newari food. Over generations, the Newars have developed a rich cultural and gastronomic legacy. The food is influenced by many other cultures, including as Tibetan, Indian, and Mongolian customs.

The following is a synopsis of the development of Newari cuisine:

Ancient Roots: The Newar people have a long history in the Kathmandu Valley, where they have lived for thousands of years. The valley’s distinct topography and climate have shaped the local culinary traditions by affecting ingredient availability.

Trade and Cultural Exchange: Historically, trade and cultural interchange between India and Tibet have been centred in the Kathmandu Valley. The cuisine has greatly benefited from this flow of people, ideas, and things.

Newar Festivals and Rituals: A lot of Newari cuisine is connected to particular festivals and rituals. For instance, special foods like yoghurt are made during Nepal’s Sambat, the country’s New Year’s celebration. Festivals give the locals a chance to get together and celebrate over customary fare.

Buddhism’s influence: Buddhism has had a huge impact on Newar culture, which can be seen in their culinary practices and dietary traditions. Some vegetarian recipes and the usage of particular ingredients in Newari cooking have their roots in Buddhist rites and monasteries.

Ingredients and Trade Routes: A wide range of ingredients, spices, and cooking methods were introduced to the area by the Silk Road and other trade routes that passed through it. The variety of Newari cuisine can be attributed to this exposure to other cultures and flavours.

Newar Achar Tradition: The preparation of achars, or pickles, is a fundamental component of Newari cooking. Achars give food a distinct and fiery flavour while also preserving seasonal ingredients. Various veggies and spices are used to produce different kinds of achars.

Culinary Techniques: Generations of cooks have passed down traditional techniques, including clay pot cooking and stone grinding. The unique flavours and textures of Newari cuisine are a result of these practises.

Cultural Preservation: The promotion and preservation of Newari culture, particularly its gastronomic customs, has received more attention in recent years. There is a push to preserve and transmit traditional cooking techniques and recipes to the next generation.

All things considered, the vast cultural diversity, historical background, and geographic influences that have moulded the Kathmandu Valley and its inhabitants throughout the ages are all reflected in Newari food. It still plays a crucial role in the Newar community’s cultural identity in Nepal.

Essential Ingredients used in Newari Cuisine

Rich and varied flavours define Newari cuisine, which uses a range of ingredients to make inventive and mouthwatering dishes. Several key components frequently utilised in Newari cooking include:

Beaten Rice: A major grain in Nepal, rice forms the foundation of many Newari foods, including beaten rice-based snacks and desserts.

Lentils (Dal): In Newari cuisine, lentils, particularly black gramme (urad dal), are the main source of protein. They are used in the preparation of soups and baras, which are lentil patties.

Mustard Oil: Often used in Newari cookery, mustard oil gives a unique flavour to a variety of meals. It is frequently used in the making of achars (pickles) and frying.

Spices: Newari food is renowned for using a lot of spices, which give the food a deep, savoury flavour. Cumin, coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, mustard seeds, asafoetida, and many kinds of chilli peppers are examples of common spices.

Ginger and Garlic: Garlic and ginger are two common fragrant elements used in Newari cooking to give a dish’s flavour and depth.

Buffalo Meat: A common source of protein in Newari cooking is buffalo meat. Momos (dumplings), sekuwa (grilled pork), and sukuti (dried and spiced meat) are some of the meals that employ it.

Dahi (yoghurt): In Newari cooking, yoghurt is often used to give dishes a creamy texture and to temper the heat from the spices. It is also a crucial component in several classic sweets.

Sesame Seeds: Newari cuisine uses sesame seeds in both savoury and sweet recipes. They are frequently used in different chutneys and as a filler for yomari, or steamed rice dumplings.

Fermented Greens (Gundruk): Usually created from mustard greens, gundruk is a type of fermented leafy green. It is a unique element that gives food a sour flavour in Newari cuisine.

Bamboo Shoots: Bamboo shoots give distinct texture and flavour to a variety of curries and pickles (achars).

Different Pickles (Achars): Newari food is well known for its extensive range of pickles, which are produced using fish, tomatoes, and radishes, among other things. The pickles provide the entrée with acidity and spice.

Yomari Flour: Made from a unique variety of rice flour, yoghurt is a classic Newari dessert packed with sesame seeds, jaggery, and other spices.

Nepali Tea (Chiya): Tea is a common beverage to go with Newari snacks and meals, especially spiced black tea (masala chiya).

These components add to the distinct and varied flavours of Newari cuisine, as does the use of traditional cooking methods. The utilisation of seasonal and locally sourced foods is a fundamental feature of this cooking culture.

Most Iconic Newari Dishes

There are many well-known dishes in Newari cuisine, each with distinct tastes and cultural importance. Among the most well-known Newari dishes are:

Momos (dumplings): Momos are a common dish in Newari cooking and are relished all throughout Nepal. Momos are typically stuffed with buffalo meat and eaten with achar, a spicy dipping sauce, according to Newari tradition.

Bara (Lentil Patties): Black gramme (urad dal) paste is used to make bara, or lentil patties, which are deep-fried. It is frequently served with a variety of chutneys and has a crispy surface and a soft centre.

Yomari (Steamed Rice Dumplings): Yomari are a delicious treat made especially for the Yomari Punhi celebration. It is made up of steamed rice dumplings stuffed with a concoction of sesame seeds, jaggery, and additional seasonings.

Gundruk: Leafy greens that have been fermented, typically prepared from mustard greens, are called gundruk. It is a staple and traditional ingredient in Newari cooking, giving many different meals a distinct acidic flavour.

Kwati (Mixed Lentil Soup): Kwati, also known as Mixed Lentil Soup, is a soup composed of nine distinct kinds of sprouting beans. It is customarily consumed during holidays like Janai Purnima and Gunla and is high in protein.

Sel Roti: Sel Roti is a classic rice-based food that resembles a doughnut. It’s created with sugar, milk, and rice flour, then deep-fried till crispy. Sel roti is frequently eaten with achar or yoghurt.

Sukuti (Dried and Spiced Meat): Meat from buffalo that has been dried and seasoned is called sukuti. It is a well-liked food, particularly on joyful occasions.

Choila (Spiced Grilled Meat): Buffalo meat that has been seasoned and grilled is used to make the meal chola. It is frequently served with rice and achar during festivals.

Yak Boudha (Buffalo Meat Curry): Yak Boudha, also known as Buffalo Meat Curry: Yak Boudha is a curry prepared using buffalo meat and a number of spices. It is a filling and aromatic dish that is part of Newari cooking.

Nepal Bhasa Bhoj (Newari Feast): A Newari feast, also known as a Bhoj, is a traditional meal that consists of a variety of pickles and desserts along with foods like Bara, Choila, and Sekuwa. It is frequently served during festivals and other events.

Wo (Lentil Soup): A staple of Newari cuisine, wo is a thick lentil soup. It is frequently made for festivals and other special occasions.

Kheer (Rice Pudding): Kheer, or rice pudding, is a dessert consisting of rice, milk, sugar, and a variety of spices and nuts. It is frequently offered as dessert during celebratory events.

The rich culinary customs and cultural legacy of the Newar community are embodied in these meals. They highlight the diversity and distinctiveness of Newari cuisine and are frequently connected to festivals, get-togethers with relatives, and other special occasions.

Newari Cuisine tied to the cultural Heritage of the Newar Community

The cultural legacy of the Newar people, who are indigenous to Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley, is closely entwined with food. The Newar people’s culinary traditions are an essential component of their identity, representing the community’s rich history, festivals, rituals, and social life. They go beyond simple food preparation and eating. The Newar community’s cultural legacy is connected to Newari cuisine in the following ways:

Festivals and Rituals: A lot of Newari foods have a specific connection to a certain holiday or ceremony. Yomari, for instance, is a dessert dish served during the Yomari Punhi celebration. The preparation and eating of specific meals play a crucial role in the Newar celebrations, linking the food to the community’s cultural and religious customs.

Newari Feasts (Bhoj): Known as extravagant banquets with a range of traditional delicacies, Bhoj is the term for Newari feasts. These feasts, which are frequently held on weddings, birthdays, and other noteworthy occasions, are an integral element of Newar social and cultural life. Deeply ingrained in cultural conventions are the dishes chosen and presented during a bhoj.

Culinary Heritage Passed Down Through Generations: Newari cuisine is prepared using age-old recipes, cooking methods, and techniques that are passed down through the generations. The Newar community’s cultural and culinary legacy is preserved in part through the family’s transfer of culinary knowledge.

Use of Local and Seasonal Ingredients: Seasonal and locally accessible ingredients play a major role in Newari cuisine. The utilization of locally sourced ingredients from the Kathmandu Valley enhances a sense of place and connection to the surrounding environment. The community’s reliance on and appreciation for the resources offered by their physical surroundings is reflected in this practise.

Community Bonding: Among the Newar people, food is a vital component of social relationships and community bonding. Eating meals together strengthens cultural ties throughout the community and promotes a sense of unity and togetherness, particularly during festivals and family get-togethers.

Ceremonial Foods: A few Newari cuisines are used in ceremonies. For instance, as part of the cultural observance, unique delicacies like yomari and other traditional dishes are prepared and enjoyed during the New Year celebration (Nepal Sambat).

Influence of Buddhism: There is a considerable Buddhist influence in the cuisine of the Newar population. The dietary preferences and cooking customs of the Newar people have been shaped by monastic lifestyles, periods of vegetarianism during specific holy times, and the integration of Buddhist rituals into their everyday life.

Symbolism in Food: A few Newari meals have symbolic connotations. Yomari, for example, is frequently shaped like a conch shell, which is a symbol of prosperity in Buddhist and Hindu cultures. Food presentation symbolism represents cultural values and ideas.

Preservation of Culinary Traditions: Documenting and promoting traditional recipes, cooking methods, and the cultural significance of certain foods are among the many activities undertaken to conserve and advance Newari culture. By doing this, we can make sure that the culinary legacy is preserved for upcoming generations.

In conclusion, Newari cuisine is a living representation of the community’s cultural legacy rather than merely a compilation of recipes. The social components of dining, along with the cuisine and preparation techniques, help to preserve and celebrate the unique cultural identity of the Newar people.

Newari cuisine differ from other Nepali regional cuisines

The flavours, ingredients, and cooking techniques of Newari cuisine set it apart from other regional cuisines in Nepal. All Nepali cuisines have certain things in common, but what makes Newari food special is how it combines local products, cultural influences, and indigenous traditions. The following are some significant distinctions between Newari and other regional cuisines in Nepal:

Use of Buffalo Meat: A common source of protein in Newari cooking is buffalo meat. Buffalo momos, sukuti (dried and spiced buffalo meat), and choila (spiced grilled buffalo meat) are typical dishes. Some Nepali cuisines, on the other hand, might focus more on vegetarian, chicken, or goat dishes.

Fermented Greens (Gundruk): A unique component in Newari cooking is gundruk, or fermented leafy greens. It is not as common in other Nepali regional cuisines, but it gives a tangy flavour to a variety of foods.

Rich Variety of Pickles (Achars): Newari food is well known for its wide selection of pickles, or achars, which are created from a variety of vegetables and other components like tomatoes, radishes, bamboo shoots, and more. The pickles add distinct flavours and textures to the entire dish.

Unique Snacks and Sweets: Newari sweets and snacks, including sel roti (rice-based doughnuts) and yomari (steamed rice dumplings filled with jaggery and sesame seeds), have a special position in Newari cuisine and are not as widely available in other parts of Nepal.

Diverse Range of Lentil Dishes: Although lentils, or dal, are a mainstay of Nepali cooking in general, Newari cuisine distinguishes itself by using lentils in a variety of ways in dishes like bara (lentil patties), wo (lentil soup), and many varieties of kwati (mixed lentil soup).

Culinary Techniques: Newari cookery frequently makes use of certain traditional methods like clay pot cooking and stone grinding. The distinct flavours and textures of Newari cuisine are a result of these techniques.

Influence of Buddhism and Hinduism: Both Buddhism and Hinduism have a significant cultural influence on the Newar community. This dual influence adds a distinctive element to the cuisine and is evident in the way some delicacies are prepared for religious festivals and ceremonies.

Specific Festive and Ritual Foods: A number of Newari cuisines have a strong connection to particular festivals and rituals. For example, various meals are cooked for the New Year celebration (Nepal Sambat) and yomari during the Yomari Punhi festival. Other regional cuisines in Nepal might not place the same emphasis on these items.

Emphasis on Community Dining: In Newari culture, communal dining is highly valued, particularly at festivals and other social events. A fundamental component of Newari culinary customs is the custom of sharing meals and feasts with one another.

Though these distinctions set Newari cuisine apart, it’s vital to remember that other regional cuisines in Nepal also have diversity. The distinct ingredients, cooking techniques, and flavours found in each location add to the overall complexity and diversity of Nepali cuisine.

Some popular Newari Desserts and Sweet Treats

During festivals, holidays, and special events, Newari cuisine offers a variety of delectable and distinctive desserts or sweet delights. Some well-liked Newari sweets are as follows:

Yomari: Traditionally made during the Yomari Punhi celebration, yogi is a delicious treat from Newari culture. It is made up of steamed rice dumplings stuffed with a concoction of sesame seeds, jaggery, and additional seasonings. Frequently, the dumplings resemble conch shells in shape.

Sel Roti: A snack similar to a doughnut made of rice. Rice flour, sugar, and milk are combined to make the batter, which is then deep-fried till it turns crispy. Sel Roti is typically eaten with pickles or yoghurt called achar.

Mohan (Lal Mohan): Dough balls dipped in sugar syrup and deep-fried to create a delicious meal. Known by many as “Lal Mohan,” these syrup-soaked balls are a favourite treat at festivals and celebrations.

Khir (Rice Pudding): Cardamom, sugar and milk are combined to make Khir. Nuts and raisins are frequently used as garnish. Khir is a traditional dessert that is offered on certain days.

Anarasa: Rice flour and jaggery are combined to make this delicious snack. It is frequently consumed during festivals and Newari festivities after being deep-fried to provide a crispy texture.

Lakhamari: Refined flour, sugar, and ghee are the ingredients of this sweet pastry. Cardamom is a common flavouring, and sesame seeds are used as a garnish. Lakhamari is a popular choice for weddings and festivities.

Juju Dhau (King Curd): Juju Dhau, also known as King Curd, is a unique variety of yoghurt with deep cultural importance in the Bhaktapur area. It is regarded as a delicacy during celebrations like Indra Jatra and is frequently served in clay pots.

Malpuwa: A batter consisting of rice flour, sugar, and mashed ripe bananas is used to make this sweet, deep-fried pancake. It is a well-liked dessert served at Newari festivities and festivals.

Sanya Khuna: Sugar and roasted wheat flour are combined to make this confection. It frequently has cardamom flavouring and nuts as garnish. Various Newari celebrations involve the consumption of this delicious dessert.

Phulaura: Batter prepared from fermented black lentils, or urad dal, is used to make this fried delicacy. It’s a wonderful dessert with a distinctive texture and sugary sweetness.

These Newari desserts highlight the rich cultural legacy of the Newar community, as well as the utilisation of regional products and traditional culinary techniques. They are an essential component of Newari celebrations and special occasions since they are frequently produced with care and attention to detail.

Modern Interpretations of Traditional Newari Dishes

Traditional Newari foods are typically interpreted in a modern way by incorporating modern cooking methods, inventive presentation, and inventive twists. To offer fresh tastes and sensations while preserving the integrity of Newari cuisine, chefs and food aficionados can experiment with traditional recipes. Here are some ideas of how to reinvent classic Newari cuisine for a contemporary setting:

Deconstructed Yomari: Disassembling the original Yomari into its component parts could be a contemporary take on it. The contents could be delivered in a more creative and eye-catching way—perhaps as a flavoured foam or gel—instead of the traditional dumpling shape. Sesame seeds and jaggery have traditional flavours that could be used in a unique sauce or drizzle.

Sel Roti Ice Cream Sandwiches: By adding it to a treat like ice cream sandwiches, sel Roti can be given a new twist. As the “bread,” you might put a scoop of flavoured ice cream between two crispy pieces of sel roti. This dish is a combination of traditional and modern ingredients.

Bara Sliders: A smaller version of the classic lentil patty, bara can be made into sliders. A modern and visually appealing variation on traditional Newari cuisine could involve using bara as the base for mini burgers with creative toppings.

Savoury Momo Tasting Flight: Known for their inventive fillings, sauces, and presentation, momos, a cornerstone of Newari cuisine, can be served as part of a sampling flight. With this method, customers can enjoy the variety of momos in a contemporary and engaging way.

Gundruk-infused Risotto: Fermented leafy greens, known as gundruk, can be used in a contemporary meal such as risotto. Gundruk’s distinct and sour flavour can give the meal more depth and combine Newari and Italian cooking techniques.

Yoghurt Parfait with Juju Dhau: A contemporary yoghurt parfait might use Juju Dhau, the unique king curd. Granola, fresh fruit, and honey might be layered in between layers of Juju Dhau to create a visually striking and delectable treat.

Mohan Puffs: You can reinvent mohan as bite-sized puffs, which are delicious, deep-fried dough balls. These might be filled with different-flavored creams or fruit compotes to give this classic dessert a modern spin.

Lakhamari Cheesecake: A contemporary cheesecake can be built around the foundation of lakhamari, a traditional sweet pastry. The traditional dish could have a new taste and texture from the lakhamari crust, which combines modern and traditional ingredients.

The goal of these contemporary reinterpretations is to keep the spirit of classic Newari cuisine while adding fresh tastes, textures, and presentation. Chefs and food enthusiasts are exploring the rich culinary heritage of the Newar community in innovative ways, contributing to the evolution of Nepali cuisine’s diverse landscape.


In summary, Newari food is a dynamic and essential component of Nepal’s rich cultural fabric, especially in the Kathmandu Valley. Newari cuisine, which has its roots in centuries-old customs, is a harmonic fusion of native tastes, cultural influences, and the seasonality of products.

Newari cuisine is distinguished by its wide variety of dishes, providing a distinctive culinary experience. From well-known treats like momos and sel roti to customary festival fare like yomari, the Newar community’s culinary legacy demonstrates a strong bond with customs and festivities. The unique flavour of Newari cuisine is further enhanced by the utilisation of regional components like lentils, buffalo meat, and fermented greens like gundruk.

The culinary customs of Newari cuisine are dynamic and change with time to accommodate new culinary advancements and modern tastes. Chefs and food enthusiasts often experiment with new versions of ancient recipes while maintaining their authenticity, providing a novel viewpoint on time-honored delicacies. This vibrancy is a reflection of the culinary landscape of Newari’s flexibility and inventiveness.

Moreover, Newari cuisine is a social experience that unites people during festivals, celebrations, and family get-togethers rather than just being about food consumption. The Newar community places a strong focus on communal dining, which highlights the social significance of food and promotes a sense of cohesion and shared identity.

The world is introduced to the unusual flavours and cultural richness that characterise this particular branch of Nepali cuisine as attempts to preserve and promote Newari culture, including its culinary traditions, continue. Essentially, Newari food adds to the larger cultural mosaic of Nepal by demonstrating the history, variety, and culinary inventiveness of the Newar people.


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