Nepali cuisines are flavorful. One bite can fill your mouth with various flavors. Nepal being a diversified country has varieties of cuisine and spices used in Nepali cuisine vary from region to region. Every ethnic group has its own specialty in preparing traditional dishes, and these dishes use many spices to give authentic flavor.
The method of preparing cuisine of an ethnic group may be different, but most Nepali cuisine uses common spices. Though Nepali cuisine uses common spices, every cuisine has its own unique taste.
8 Commonly Used Spices in Nepali Cuisine and their Unique Flavor
Salt is used almost in every cuisine around the world. And Nepali dishes are also not complete without salt. Salt is among the essential spices that act as a flavoring agent in Nepali cuisine and is used for the same reason around the world.
However, salt is also used to prevent food and enhance the texture of cuisine. Salt wipes moisture out of the food, which prevents food from rotting. Many people might not know that salt has a role in creating texture in food. Just using varieties of spices may not give you wow taste. Every Nepali cuisine has salt to enhance the flavor of spices of the cuisine. So, Salt is an essential spice that should not be missed while preparing Nepali cuisine.
Cumin is one of the common spices found in many Nepali cuisines. Depending upon the traditional method of preparing cuisine, cumin is used as a whole seed or ground form. Cumin has a warm and earthy aroma with both sweet and bitter flavor. So, cumin is used earlier in the recipe to give time to release essence.
Some Nepali cuisine doesn’t use cumin in grounded form, instead use as a whole seed. So, cumin seed is not directly used in Nepali cuisine. It is first roasted to get the optimum flavor and then used in dishes
Ginger is found ground, fresh, dried, pickled, preserved, and crystallized. It has a warm woody aroma and tastes slightly hot. Most Nepali cuisine uses fresh ginger to give authentic flavor. Though ginger is important in everyday Nepali cuisine, it is not necessary that all ethnic cuisine has ginger in it.
Many Nepali like to peel mature fresh ginger before using it in the cuisine. It is one of the regularly used spices in Nepali cuisine. Ginger is commonly used while preparing curry, buff, chicken, and vegetables. Also, ginger pickle is served on the side of the plate to add flavor.
Turmeric powder is a spice that is made from the root of the plant and comes under the ginger family. This yellow color spice is used as a medicine and flavoring for many centuries. Turmeric has a strong earthy, bitter, and little peppery flavor. As Turmeric is from the ginger family, it also has a slight ginger-like taste. It is mostly used for coloring the dishes than flavoring it.
Though turmeric is using just use for coloring, it is among the essential spices in Nepali cuisine. Almost all the Nepali cuisine uses Turmeric in it to give a yellow color. Curries, meat, vegetables, and Nepali style soups are some of the typical Nepali cuisines that are prepared using turmeric powder.
Red onion and green onion are commonly used in Nepali cuisine. Using any of these onions as spices complement Nepali cuisine. Red onions have a spicy taste when eaten raw, and they will turn soft and sweet when caramelized and turned into golden brown. Onion has a distinctive flavor that gives any Nepali cuisine a pleasant taste and is often use in vegetables, meat, or in other ethnic cuisines.
Red onions are widely used than green onion in most of the Nepali cuisine. Onion comes among those spices that get easily merge in Nepali cuisine. But onion never loses its distinctive taste and enhances the flavor of the cuisine.
6. Chili powder
The flavor of chili powder varies from mild to too spicy. It is not necessary that chili powder has to be hot but it needs to have a mild flavor. The taste of chili powder depends upon how much cayenne pepper makes up the mixture. Chili powder is not just made of red chilly but it is a mixture of cumin, oregano, garlic, and other spices.
Chili powder is optional spices in Nepali cuisine. However, chili powder is used to make the tongue tingle. Using chili powder in Nepali cuisine depends upon its flavor and taste of the person. If the chili powder is extremely hot then using a few pinches can be enough. If you are using Century Chili powder, you can use one teaspoon as it has moderate flavor. However, adding chili powder totally depends upon whether the person likes spicy food or not.
Just like ginger, garlic is also used fresh in Nepali cuisine. Garlic is peeled, chopped into small pieces, and then mashed. Fresh ginger-garlic paste comes among the widely used spices in Nepali cuisine because of its unique aroma and flavor. As fresh ginger-garlic paste has a distinctive odor and flavor, using it in small quantity is sufficient to enhance the taste of dishes.
As fresh ginger-garlic paste has a robust pungent flavor, it should be fried moderately in oil until it loses its aroma. Frying ginger-garlic paste instantly changes the flavor and the texture of it, resulting in creamy and mild taste.
Coriander powder and coriander leaves are very popular in Nepali cuisine. As coriander powder has a mild and earthy flavor, it gives distinctive flavor. It is used to flavor dishes and is regularly added to the most Nepali cuisine. Adding coriander powder gives a unique taste to the dishes. This is the reason why it is widely used in Nepali cuisine and it is an important ingredient while preparing meat and curry.
However, coriander leaves are the herb that is used to garnish Nepali cuisine. These leaves are chopped finely before garnishing the cuisine. It is added at the last and cooked for few seconds until the flavor gets vanish. Fresh coriander leaves taste soapy, making it perfect for garnishing.