Our list of food terms found on the menus and in the kitchens on Broadway grows this week with a glossary of words from Kathmandu Kitchen, 1728 Broadway. The serving tray at left is a thali.

Thali, round style
Thali, round style  

The food of Nepal is rich with terms from Tibet and Northern India. Sandwiched between India and China, it’s easy to figure out what dishes are influenced from where.


From the northern mountains, which include the tallest peak in the world, Mt.Everest, the Tibetans gave Nepal steamed foods like dumplings and warming soups with noodles. Heading south to the border with India, it’s hot. This region is called the terrai. It’s not far from the Ganges and it’s prone to recipes with more spices.


Clay pot – a tandoor oven.


Charcoal-fired/charcoal-roasted – any meat or vegetable threaded on a 4-foot long iron skewer and lowered vertically into the clay pot/tandoor. Also, flat breads (naan) is said to be charcoal-cooked because it’s baked on the sidewalls of the 1,000-degree clay pot.


Thali --  A metal serving tray that can be round with cups of food, or a metal tray with separate compartments that hold the components of a complete Nepali meal. Must haves include: lentil soup, achar pickle (see Achar), mint and tamarind sauces or chutney, basmati rice, Tibetan mo mo dumplings, vegetably curry, sometimes yogurt-cucumber raita and naan bread.


Chau-chau – Tibetan noodles that mimic in name and technique their true origins – Chinese chow mein. “Chow/chau” means to fry. Chau-chau noodles are thick and dark. They’re pan-fried with meat and vegetables, or vegetables, only.


Mo-mo – Tibetan dumpling that resemble Chinese potstickers, or jaotze, which are not fried after steaming and also contain pork, which is never served in Nepal. Mo-mo fillings might be turkey, chicken, spinach or lamb chopped and mixed with mild spices including turmeric. The dough wrapper is pleated around the filling and sealed on top with a twisted top knot.


Mughlai Saag – Fresh spinach sautéed with spices and cream. Unlike Northern Indian saag dishes, which are cooked until the spinach is nearly mushy, Nepalese spinach is cooked less. The leaves remain forest green and distinct. This dish begins with a sauté of hot oil, then cumin, ginger paste and garlic. After spinach is added, it gets a sprinkling of fenugreek, garam masala and a touch of chilli. When the spinach is limp, cream is added, taking on the coral color of the chili.


Achar – pickle, usually tomato.


Nepalese samosa – Spiced pastry folded around a potato filling, crimped by hand all around to seal in the filling, then deep fried.