One of Nepal’s most famous indigenous communities, the Tharu community, lies in the southern foothills and inner part of the Terai region. Known as one of the oldest cultures and communities in Nepal, Tharus are also known for its diverse choices in its cuisine and flavors.
With rich food culture and delicacies, most Tharu communities’ cuisines rely heavily on the forests, the environment, fertile flooded plains, and other factors. Furthermore, the Tharu communities also invest in aquatic food and rely on the nearby rivers in the lowlands. Hence, this tribe’s food culture engulfed most possible dish choices.
Apart from their own culture, the native region of the Tharu tribe shares a border with India. In addition to that, their cuisines also include a mixture of Indian seasonings and spices.
A Highlight Of Tharu Cuisine
Tharu cuisines are all about multiple varieties with dramatic tingling tastes and flavors. They are aromatic, they are different, and they are unique to taste. The Tharu tribe mainly resides near marshlands, rivers, and flooded plains, so their foods are also inspired by it.
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Among many of their food inspirations, rice is one of its main components. This rice is of a particular kind that is usually sticky and is called Anadi Chamal. Apart from it, they also have several items on the go made out of rice and dough.
This cuisine includes multiple freshwater dishes, such as fish, crabs, snails, mussels, wild mushrooms, and many more. In addition, Tharu cuisine also has various meat types: pig, wild boar, chicken, wild rabbit, pigeon meat, and so on.
As one of the fun facts about Tharu food culture is that they have their meats raw. Many do state that this culture has a unique and different flavor.
Food Items And Their Features
Below are the top picks on the Tharu cuisines to venture into. As you go through the lists, you can find out how much you would like the dish or not.
Anandi Rice / Chichar
Anandi rice is the only glutinous rice found traditionally grown in Nepal. This steam and sticky rice is only eaten on some occasions.
They are sometimes eaten as they are, while some are used in different recipes or during making Aandik jhor/Jaar (liquor).
Often catered as one of the delicacies in Tharu culture, Ghonghi is mud-water snails. They are usually found in streams and paddy fields of the Terai region that are served with local spices.
However, Ghonghi is perfectly washed, cleaned, and boiled before this preparation. Then, it is mixed with local spices that make your mouth go tangy and spicy. Additionally, you can also add flaxseeds to it.
Later, this dish is served with linseed soup, and you can eat it by sucking the snail from its shell. Though, this dish does look a bit nasty for many. Altogether, Ghonghi has 57.5 percent protein and is the best when you eat it with rice.
If you are a beef lover, then yes, Pakuwa suits you. Put simply, Pakuwa is pork and wild boar BBQ meat (Sekuwa). Yes, it is similar to the regular meat types. However, they are prepared differently. Not to mention, they are marinated with local spices, which makes them unique.
One of the unique dishes in the Tharu community, Dhikri, is often eaten and enjoyed on the first day of the Nepali month of Magh. This dish is made up of rice flour, which is much healthier and more nutritious as it does not contain added spices.
Additionally, Dhikri is a steamed rice dough and can be molded in various shapes. You can eat this dish besides lentil soup, curry, and chutney.
It is a popular snack of the Tharu community and is made of rice flour. Bagiya is more or less similar to momos in taste but is often salty. However, their shape is identical to that of Yomari. They do have a flat mid-portion with protruding ends.
Additionally, Bagiya’s fillings differ from those of boiled potatoes, spices, and lentils. Yet again, you can also stuff them with chakku.
Gengta / Kakhor / Kekhada Pickle (Chutney)
One of the tasty Tharu food dishes, Gengta Chutney, comprises crabs. Before preparation, these crabs are thoroughly cleaned before cooking them.
Often made during festivals, they are made with local spices, and then you can have them as a snack or mix it with other dishes too.
One of the most popular snacks in the Tharu community, Bhakka is a fluffy rice flour steamed cake. They are often taken during breakfast with freshly prepared tomato pickles or chutney. Not to mention, Bhakka is prepared with freshly harvested rice flour and has some sweetness.
Initially, it is made with milling-soaked rice while adding water to make it soft; then, it is steamed with a lid-on. Though as simple as Bhakka looks, the preparation procedure to make it smooth and fluffy is creative.
Jhingiya Machhari (Jhinga Maccha)
This is a simple yet amazingly delicious dish. Jhinga Maccha is a dish made of freshwater shrimps that are later mixed with local spices.
It is small yet delicious pigeon meat cooked to the perfect moment. Later, they are served with either roasting, curry, or fried.
Khariya / Patushni / Aairkanchan
Known as one of the famous Tharu dishes, Khariya is made of rice, legumes, and spices. Then this combination is later wrapped with colocasia leaves and then deep-fried. Black lentils and rice grains are the most popular among many fillings.
It is a small fish prepared with taro, colocasia steam, and spices. These combinations are shaped as cakes and later sun-dried before serving and eating. While eating, this dish goes well with soup or curry.
In A Nutshell
Tharu cuisines are much more than their traditions; you can taste their culture through the dishes. Apart from the Tharu words, Nepal is rich and diverse in culinary heritage. Additionally, you can get taste the culture through every single buzz.