Along with many bizarre food cultures and traditions around the world, Nepal too has some weird food items to offer. Some even having such a fearful aura that you wouldn’t want to try them on a normal day, but hey! Halloween’s knocking at the door, and these intimidating foods are just right for the occasion.
Ghongi: One of the most common foods in the Tharu, Rajbansi, Santhal, Jangbad, and Bhote communities of Nepal, Ghonghi is often catered as a delicacy, just the way others serve chicken or mutton. Known as escargot in France, this species of snail is served with ground linseed soup. To eat this, you have to suck it from its shell. It is available all over the market place in Terai. Ghongis are captured alive from ponds and placed in rice flour and water for one day. In that day they take in all the rice flour and deposit all the soil inside them. Once they are filled with rice flour, they are cooked in spices and gravy and usually made into a delicious soup.
Although the look of the dish is rather unappealing, it is particularly well-liked by Tharu people, as also by some others. Although it might bear resemblance to the escargot, it is quite different in taste or method of tasting. The French culinary doesn’t require the snail to be sucked out of the shell, unlike Ghongi. Be that as it may, Ghongi is a much-loved dish amongst the Tharu community.
Yak blood: Although this may sound rather creepy or primitive, the people of the Himalayan region, particularly in Mustang, participate in blood drinking festivals. First, to be clear, we're talking yak blood here. Yaks are large, shaggy-haired animals related to cattle that live in the high altitudes of the Himalaya. Up there, yaks graze on herbs that villagers believe are good for digestion, but aren't directly digestible by humans.
Yak blood is believed to contain the herbs' medicinal properties and other healthful benefits. And so, once or twice a year, villagers undertake an arduous trek up the hillsides to where the yaks roam. They set up camp for about a week, rustle up the yaks, carefully slit their neck veins and cup the blood that pours forth, drinking it while it's still hot. Then, they let the yaks go.
Pukala: Pukala is a traditional dish made of a variety of boiled and fried meats of the water buffalo. It is a traditional dish and a delicacy of the Newars, and is served during festivals and weddings. It is eaten between the main course and the dessert. Pukala is made by boiling a variety of meats like small intestines, liver, kidney, tripe, pancreas, and spleen. The meat is then sliced into one-inch pieces and pan fried. Food is an important element in Newar ritual and religious life, and specific food preparations are required for ceremonies and feasts. Pukala is a mandatory item during festivals. In some places, the dish is also served as an appetizer or snack in restaurants.
Mice: There might be many communities with various food cultures in Nepal, but the Tharu community unquestionably beats them all with its quirky and bizarre traditions. It is the only community in Nepal that encourages and participates in the process of eating mice. It might be weird to acknowledge, but mice are a delicacy within the Tharu community, who also choose what mice they eat. They don’t just dine on any mice they find, and there is no tradition of selling mice, like poultry. About 90% of the Tharu population are farmers, and that is where the mice eating originates. While working in the farm, the people find mice that eat the crops. These mice are captured, killed, and then boiled into a stew or soup, which the farmers eat. The Tharu people have undoubtedly given meaning to the statement “revenge is a dish best served cold!”