Summer Food and Drinks under Rs. 100
Momocha in Mangal Bazaar
It seems to be impossible to write any food list in Nepal without mentioning momos, and similarly in this summer food list, the quintessential Nepali snack has rightfully earned its spot. Momos are a perfect summer meal. They are quickly served, and hot, and with the right achar, amazingly refreshing. Momos have changed and evolved through the years, and different types of momos will make different lists. For this summer list, however, we look at momos as they were introduced in the Kathmandu valley, the momocha. Momos were introduced to Nepal from Tibet by traveling Newari merchants, who coined it momocha. That’s why, for momocha, we go to one of the best protected pockets of ancient Newari culture, Mangal Bazaar. Momocha is traditionally filled with buffalo meat (a cheaper meat), which helps us fulfill the under-Rs.100 requirement of our list. Wander around Mangal Bazaar, and you’ll find momos for anywhere from 80-100 rupees. Pour the achar right over the momos, and the cool tangy achar, coupled with the hot steamy momos, will refresh your soul.
Laphing in Boudha
Keeping to the theme of street food borrowed from our northern neighbor, the second dish on our list is laphing, a cold noodle dish that originated from the Sichuan province in China. It migrated across mainland China, across Tibet, and was brought into Nepal by the Tibetan diaspora. So, naturally, the best laphing in Nepal is found where most of these Tibetans have settled, Boudha.
Laphing is noodles served with a cold broth made from a mixture of different spices, including, but not limited to, soy sauce, pepper, vinegar, and cilantro. The spicy broth will wake you right up, and the coolness is the perfect antidote to any hot summer day. Walk around the cool alleyways of Boudha to find a laphing restaurant that you fancy. There are many recommendations on the internet about which one is the “best”. In our experience, it really does not matter which one you walk into. If you’re tempted to get a second bowl, just go for it. Usually about 40 rupees a bowl, even after a second bowl, you’re still under our limit of 100 rupees.
Lassi in Indra Chowk
After sampling two dishes from our northern neighbor, we head down to Indra Chowk, where we sample a drink that has its roots down south. That is, lassi, which is found in many forms throughout South Asia in different forms. The lassi sold in Indra Chowk is ‘Janakpur lassi’. The original milkshake around these parts, lassi is made from yogurt blended with sweeteners. Thick, cool, and creamy, however hot you are, a glass of lassi will cool you down. It is cooled naturally, either in steel or earthen pots. Since it is not refrigerated, it has the ability to cool you right down without giving you a brain freeze. You get amazing lassi in a lot of places in Kathmandu, but the best we’ve had is in Indra Chowk. There are a few shops selling them around Indra Chowk, and all are equally good for a visit. Usually sold from hole-in-the-wall eateries without names, just find the one with the biggest crowds. Costing about 70 rupees, Indra Chwok ko lassi might be the most satisfying item on this list for hot summer days.
Kulfi around Kathmandu
Finally, bringing up the rear of this list is a Nepali dessert. If the lassi is the traditional milkshake, the kulfi is the traditional ice cream. Like the lassi, it is a dairy-based dessert found everywhere in South Asia. Of all the items in this list, the kulfi has the most variations, and thus it would really not be fair to name one area to buy kulfi from. Having undergone many reinventions by amateur chefs and five star restaurateurs, you could well find kulfi well outside our price range in some places. However, you will find also a lot of amazing kulfi inside the hundred rupee mark. Pop into your local kirana pasal for kulfi inside a plastic casing, which makes a nostalgic ‘pop’ sound when pulled out. Ask the dais pushing around ice cream carts around the valley, or go to a restaurant for a more gourmet kulfi experience. Whenever you have the urge, just pop into the next shop or restaurant you find. There is a very good chance you’ll find kulfi under one hundred rupees.