Breaking Your Fast in Kathmandu

Food Issue 159 Feb, 2015

Seven must-try local breakfast items that will drag you out of bed this winter.

Getting out of bed in the winter can be a challenge. As the mercury dips, the comfort of a warm blanket suddenly becomes exponentially harder to abandon. Often it feels that were it not for these delicious breakfast delicacies, the town would start stirring much later on a Saturday. It is not uncommon to see former locals, who have now moved to the outskirts, flock the inner streets of Patan and Basantapur to their favorite mari pasals to grab a bite of their favorite grub. The formulaic dal-bhat-tarkari or the ubiquitous mo:mo are Nepali food items that travelers savor and remember. This winter, however, indulge in these seven must-try local breakfast items and forge some new memories. 

Gwaramari (literally “chubby bread” in Newari) are bite-sized dough deep fried in oil. These once wildly popular delicacies, have now been resigned to obscure and solitary vendors in Kathmandu’s inner streets— making a morning hunt for them an adventure in itself. Wolf down hot gwarmaris with some golbheda ko achar (tomato chutney) to an authentic Newar breakfast experience. Make note that Gwarmaris are literally dripping in oil, so some tea with black pepper mixed in, make for great chasers. 

Jeri Swari
Mornings are blissful with this sweet and crunchy delight— a local favorite. Wrap your jeri inside a warm swari and savor it in the morning sun. It is a ritual of sorts for many locals to sip on hot tea as they wait for the shopkeeper to pack some jeri swari to take away. Jeri swari, after all, tastes best when guzzled down with family, swapping stories from your early morning escapades to the gallies of Asan or Mangalbazar. 

Malpuwa Sel
Malpuwas have been dubbed “Nepali pancakes” and live up to that billing. Crispy on the rim and soft in the middle, malpuwas make for a great breakfast treat, especially when downed with some homemade cucumber chutney. Sel is another popular Nepali snack central to breakfasts, tea-time and religious ceremonies. Find out for yourself why these deliciously deep fried rice doughnuts have been a mainstay of Nepali culture.   

Khapse is a Tibetan treat that has found a warm reception here in Kathmandu. Locals love to hound their favorite stores in Boudha or Swayambhu to grab some khapse to go with their morning tea. These sweet treats were traditionally prepared during Lhosar but due to their wild popularity, have become a regular item not only at stores in Tibetan neighborhoods but also commercial department stores.   

Puri Tarkari
If you are looking for a heavy breakfast before a hike or a bike ride on a weekend, puri tarkari is the obvious choice. They can be found in any local eatery or tea shop and are a favorite among locals looking for a quick but substantial fix before heading out for the day. Once you get a plate of tarkari with the standard four puris¸ you might find yourself wolfing down upwards of a dozen.  

Chiya Pauroti
Sometimes the most simple of breakfasts can be the very best (particularly if you have snoozed your alarm one too many times). If you are running late but still have to cater to a growling belly, there are few better solutions than finding some bread to dunk into your morning tea. Easy, simple but still delicious, chiya pauroti has  come to the rescue on many a rushed mornings. 

Yet, if you missed breakfast completely, do not fret; chatamaris make for a great brunch. Wake up late and stroll down to Patan or Basantapur to find your favorite Newar eatery and wolf down some delicious chatamari. Any day that starts with these delicious Newari delights is a day spent well.