Spices, Herbs and Flavoring Ingredients Used in Nepali Cuisine

The diversity and richness of Nepali cuisines are also reflected by the wide varieties of spices, herbs and flavoring ingredients used in Nepali cooking. Spices in Nepali cuisines are not just used for the exquisite flavors but also for the nutrition, medicinal value, aesthetics, texture, freshness, and heat. You can also see many of these spices, herbs, and flavoring ingredients used in Indian and regional cuisines across the world. Spices like cumin seed, coriander seed, turmeric, garlic, onion, and ginger are widely used in everyday Nepali cooking, while some of them are used in making occasional and festive foods. Wild Himalayan garlic (jimbu) and Nepali pepper (timur) are the key flavoring ingredients in Thakali cuisine, and also widely used in hilly cuisines across Nepal. Roasted sesame seed is widely used for flavoring fresh achaar or salad. One of the peculiar flavoring ingredients used in Newa cuisine is roasted mustard oil, which is not seen in other food cultures of Nepal. Linseed or flaxseed is used to flavor mudwater snail (ghonghi) curry in Tharu culture. In Limbu and rai culture, fermented soybeans known as kinema is also used as flavoring curries and daal beside using as the main ingredient.

Here is the list of spices, herbs and flavoring ingredients used in Nepali cuisine. If there are any spices missed and also if you would like to contribute for their ethnic names, please send an email at thegundruk@gmail.com.

Spices
Common Name Common Nepali Name Ethnic Name
Ajowan seeds/Ajwain seeds/Carom seeds Jwaano – ज्वानो
Anise seed Newari: Sobusah
Asafetida/Asafoetida Hing – हिंग
Bay leaves Tejpatta – तेजपत्ता
Pepper Marich – मरिच
Caraway seed (?) Bhote jeera/Bhote masala – भोटे जीरा/भोटे मसला Thakali: Ghoini
Chili Khursani – खुर्सानी Newari: Malta
Cinnamon, Cassia bark Daalchini – दालचिनी
Cloves Lwaang – ल्वाङ्ग
Coriander seeds Dhaniya ko geda – धनियाँँको गेडा
Cumin seeds Jeera – जीरा Newari: Jii
Dill seed Saunf – सौँफ
Fennel seeds Saunp/Saunf/Boke Jeera – सौँप/सौँफ/बोके जीरा
Fenugreek seeds Methi – मेथी Newari: Michah, Sherpa: Mendo
Garlic Lasun – लसुन Newari: Laava, Limbu: Makho, Sherpa: Gokpa
Ginger Aduwa – अदुवा Newari: Paalu, Sherpa: Gyesar
Himalayan black rock salt Bire nun – बिरे नुन
Himalayan white rock salt Sidhe nun – सिधे नुन
Large/Black cardamom Alaichi – अलैचीं
Mace Jaipatri – जाइपत्री
Nepali pepper (?) Boke timur – बोके टिमूर
Nepali pepper (?) Siltimur – सिलटिमूर
Nepali pepper/Sichuan pepper Timur – टिमूर
Nigella seeds/Black cumin Mungrelo/Kalo jeera – मुंग्रेलो/कालो जीरा
Nutmeg Jaiphal – जाइफल
Onion Pyaaj – प्याज
Poppy seeds Khuskhus – खुसखुस
Saffron Kesar – केसर
Salt Nun – नुन Newari: Chi, Sherpa: Cha
Small/Green cardamom Sukumel – सुकुमेल
Star Anise
Turmeric Besar – बेसार Newari: Halu, Sherpa: Nyu nan
Sweet Flavoring Ingredients
Common Name Common Nepali Name Ethnic Name
Concentrated Sugarcane juice Khudo – खुदो
Honey Maha – मह
Jaggery Sakhar/Bheli/Gur – सख्खर/भेली/गुर
Processed jaggery Chaku – चाकु Newari: Chaku
Sugar Chini – चिनी
Edible Oily Seeds
Common Name Common Nepali Name Ethnic Name
Flaxseed, Linseed Aalas – आलस
Hemp seed Bhang – भाङ्ग
Mustard seeds Tori/Sarsyun – तोरी/सस्र्यूँ
Niger seeds Jhuse/Madhesi teel – झुसे तिल/मधेसी तिल Limbu: Philinge
Peanuts Badam – बदाम
Perilla seeds Silam – सिलम
Pumpkin seeds Pharsi ko biya – फर्सीको वियाँ
Radish seeds Mulla ko biya – मुलाको वियाँ
Sesame seeds Teel – तिल Newari: Hwamu
Soybeans Bhatmaas – भटमास Newari: Musya
Herbs/Flowers
Common Name Common Nepali Name Ethnic Name
Chives Chhyapi – छ््यापी
Coriander leaves Dhaniya ko paat – हरियो धनियाँ
Dill Saunf ko saag – सौँफको साग
Garlic leaves Lasun ko paat – लसुनको पात
Himalayan wild garlic/Jimbu Jimbu/Jimmu – जिम्बु/जिम्मु
Mint Pudina/Patina – पुदीना/पतना Newari: Nawahghauaa
Sawtooth coriander/Culantro Jangali Dhaniya – जङ्गली धनियाँ
Sichuan button Marethi/Gorakhpaan – मराठी/गोरखपान
Spring onion Pyaj ko paat – प्याजको पात
Other Flavoring Ingredients
Common Name Common Nepali Name Ethnic Name
Butter Nauni – नौनी
Coconut Nariwal – नरिवल
Concentrated Nepali lemon juice Chuk – चुक
Dried fishes Sidhra/Sidhara – सिध्रा/सिधरा
Fermented cream Somar – किनेमा Sherpa: Somar
Fermented soybeans Kinema – किनेमा Limbu: Kinema, Rai: Chembhiki
Garden cress seed Chamsur ko biya – चम्सुरको वियाँ
Ghee/Clarified butter Ghiu – घिउ Newari: Ghya
Lemon Kaagati – कागती
Nepali hog plum Lapsi – लप्सी
Nepali lemon Amilo/Nibuwa – अमिलो/निबुवा
Oil (cooking) Tel – तेल Newari: Chika/Busa
Preserved animal fats Boso – बोसो Newari: Daah
Roasted mustard oil Bhuteko tori ko tel – भुटेको तोरीको तेल Newari: Bu-chika
Tamarind Imli – इमिली

 

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