One of the best aspects of travelling to a new place is that you get to taste local cuisines which you have never tasted before. Sometimes, the cuisine you taste during your travel deeply touches your heart that you never forget its taste.
If you are travelling in Nepal, you surely will get to taste varieties of local ethnic cuisines. Hence, Nepal is not less than heaven for foodies. Nepal is a small country but it is the home of many ethnic groups. Each ethnic group has their own lifestyle, language, culture and cuisines.
Newar is one of the ethnic groups of Nepal who are the indigenous people of Kathmandu Valley. Newars are renowned for their rich culture. Every year they celebrate several festivals and organize different feasts. One of the traditional and regular food items in Newari festivals is Samaybaji. It is taken as starter dish in almost all festivals, family get-together and religious activities of Newars. Newars offer Samaybaji to the god before they eat. So, it is considered as auspicious blessed food (prashad).
It is a dish which has multiple Newari food recipes together. The each items of Samaybaji has its own importance to enhance the richness of this delicious cuisine. Mainly, this famous Newari food consists of following items:
Baji (Flattened or Beaten Rice Flakes)
Beaten Rice is common snack in Nepal. You can find this item in any local grocery shops of Nepal. It is made by pounding rice.
Samay/Syabaji (Puffed Rice)
It is puffed rice and one of the main items of Samaybaji. It is also available in local grocery shops.
Haku Musya (Black Soyabean)
It is fried in oil and mixed with little salt for Samaybaji.
Palu (Fresh Ginger Rhizomes)
Ginger is cut into small juliennes and mixed with salt and mustard oil for Samaybaji.
Lava (Fresh Garlic Rhizomes)
Like ginger, garlic is also cut into small pieces and mixed with salt and mustard oil for Samaybaji.
Sanya (Fish Fried)
Dried fish is either smoked or fried with little oil and salt.
Khen (Boiled-Fried Egg)
The boiled egg is slightly fried with little salt and it is served whole.
Wauncha (Green Vegetables)
You can use spinach, lettuce or mustard leaves for this. It is made by mixing the mustard oil, salt, chili, cumin, turmeric and garlic paste with boiled and crushed spinach, lettuce or mustard leaves.
Chhoyla (Marinated Broiled Meat)
Chhoyla is a mouthwatering Newari food recipe made of buffalo meat. Buffalo meat is either grilled over the flames or boiled and marinated using different spices such as cumin, salt, chilly, fenugreek seeds, ginger and garlic paste.
Wo (Lentil Patties)
It is rounded shaped small pancake like patty which is made of black or green lentils. Various spices such as salt, cumin powder, garlic, ginger paste and hing (asafoetida) are mixed to the thick paste of lentil and cook it on the pan using mustard or vegetable oil.
Bhuti (Boiled Beans with Spices)
Beans are boiled first and mixed them with different spices such as salt, chili, cumin, turmeric powder, garlic and ginger paste.
Alu Wala (Boiled Potato Marinated with Pickle)
Boiled potatoes are chopped into quarters after peeling them and marinated with sesame seeds (teel), fenugreek seeds, turmeric, cumin and chili.
Aaila (Newari liquor)
It is home-made rice alcohol which is colorless and has strong flavor.
Thwon (Sweet White Newari Liquor)
It is also home-made rice alcohol which is white in color and sweeter than aaila.
Along with above food items, these days people add dishes such as Chatamari( a thin round shape bread made of grounded rice and water), Chhow Kwa(delicious soup made of beans, potatoes and bamboo shoot), fruits and other sweets in Samaybaji.
During festivals like Indrajatra and other special occasion, Newars display huge pile of Samaybaji like in the following picture. At the end, it is distributed among devotees as blessed food (prashad).
Born and brought up as Newar, I often get to taste this delicious cuisine but whenever I think about Samaybaji, my mouth becomes watery. If you ever visit Nepal, do not forget to taste this awesome dish. Trust me; you will certainly fall in love with Samaybaji.
The dish is so popular in Newar community that many Newari songs have described about Samaybaji. While writing this blog, I remembered a famous Newari song associated to Samaybaji which goes like ‘Laa Chhaku Wayka Samay Baji, Wala Wala Pulu Kishi’ which means ‘please serve Samaybaji with a piece of meat, here comes the white elephant.’