Newa Cuisine: The Art of Serving Water Buffalo

Newa, or Newari cuisine is one of the more distinctive varieties of Nepalese cooking styles. Developed over the course of several centuries by the Newar people of Nepal, Newa cuisine bears a number of differences from other, more typical Nepali menus. The main feature of Newari cuisine is the abundance of non-vegetarian dishes.

Although the Newars practice both Buddhism and Hinduism, the indigenous Water Buffalo is often used to create a number of signature dishes. More strict Hindus sometimes frown upon the use of the water buffalo as well as the consumption of alcoholic beverages by the Newars, but both are integral parts of a culture that ruled the valley of Kathmandu and the surrounding area for centuries before Hinduism arrived on the scene.

The typical Newa menu features many complementary spices with an emphasis on mustard oil. Garlic, ginger, cinnamon and cloves are also commonly used. The many festivals celebrated in predominantly Newar areas accompanied by traditional Newa foods are often an ideal way for tourists to get to know the rich flavors of the best Newa cuisine.

Although it must be said, some of the dishes utilizing water buffalo may be a bit too daring for the average western tourist. Some of these dishes include “Cho-hi” (steamed buffalo blood with marrow and spices), “Sapumhichha” (liquid bone marrow encased in stomach lining) and “So-laa” (battered and fried goat lung). Wash any of these down with a glass of “Thwon” (rice beer) or “Ayelaa” (hard liquor made from rice).

The dessert menu is extensive and its characteristic sweetness is exemplified by Lakhamari, a traditional dessert made from flour, sugar, butter and various flavorings. Lakhamari is made in different shapes and each shape is given a different name. Lakhamari is a popular gift as it can be stored for many days before eating. Sounds like the perfect way to end a meal of Sapumhichha, as any Newari will surely tell you!