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Aloo tama

Aloo tama, a potato and bamboo shoots soup in Nepali cuisine, served in a bowl in Kathmandu

One dish in particular represents where Chinese food meets Indian food in Nepal, and that's aloo tama: potato and bamboo shoot soup. Tama is pickled bamboo, and it’s added to a simple soupy potato curry—with onions, tomatoes, and a full complement of spices—at the end of cooking. (It is also commonly served with black-eyed peas, which is then called aloo bodi tama.) Aloo tama is said to be unique to Nepali (specifically, but not exclusively, Newari) cuisine, because although there are many crossovers between Nepali and Indian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian food, none of those other places serve a dish that combines bamboo with curry spices. The soup is spicy and zesty, as additional lemon juice is often added for extra sourness, and it goes well with chiura (dried beaten rice).

Where: Newari Kitchen (Pulchowk Gabahal Rd, Patan 44600, map), near the Labim Mall on Pulchowk Road, is a more upmarket place than most to enjoy Newari food. Its aloo tama can also be ordered without the tama, but then it would sort of be missing the point.

When: Daily, noon-10pm

Order: This aloo tama (Rs 110) was spicy and sour, and went well with chiura and a side of saag (leafy greens) curry. If you’re not a fan of pickled bamboo, this dish can be ordered without it—just a simple tangy soup with soft chunks of potato.

Alternatively: The Village Café (Pulchowk, Patan 44601, map) also does a great aloo tama, as well as a full range of other Newari specialties all cooked by women.


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