Nepal Food Recipe (8)-“Street Food” Choyela

You can’t beat “street food” when it’s done well and our Choyela is an authentic Kathmandu street food recipe as well as a firm traditional favourite with the people of Nepal.

To find Choyela in Kathmandu you’ve really got to venture beyond the Thamel area, which is the main international tourist part of Kathmandu and although Thamel is awash with cafes, bars and restaurants few actually offer traditional Nepali cuisine, let alone street food.

So, to find real Nepal street food you’ve got to head for the areas that the locals frequent in “old” Kathmandu and just ask one of the locals who and where their favourite Choyela vendor is. Don’t be surprised if they actually take you there!

Choyela is a typical Newari speciality and most likely originated in Kathmandu.

Nepali’s would usually accompany this dish with “beaten rice”, which is a flattened rice flake that you’d “toast”.

Rice Flakes or “beaten rice”

You can easily buy rice flakes via Amazon

But a Choyela (or Choila) works equally well with a flatbread or roti of your preference too.

Nepali’s love their chillies and for recipes that use chilli they like it hot!

So, if you’re not keen on chilli hot food, use less chilli to tone it down a bit.

The recipe also calls for Timuur. This is a spicy peppercorn from the Szechuan pepper family and widely used in Nepali cooking.

Timuur, part of the Szechuan pepper family

Again, Timuur is readily available via Amazon

For our recipe we’re using chicken, but you can also use duck. Beef, pork or lamb could work too if you get the right cuts.

You’ll also need to prepare our Nepali spice mix. To make this follow the instructions below. It will make far more than you actually need. But, don’t worry as you’ll need this spice mix for several other recipes we’ve published, or you can use it your own curry concoctions.

Nepali Spice Mix


100g cumin seeds

100g coriander seeds

25g cloves

10g Timuur

25g cinnamon

25g cardamom

1 nutmeg


Combine and mix all the spice ingredients together and either:

  1. Leave them in full sunlight for a day
  2. “Dry roast” in a frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the spices. A good indicator that it’s time to take the spice combination off the heat is when the coriander seeds begin to pop.

Grind all the spices, preferably using a pestle and mortar, into a fine powder and store in an air tight container. A glass jar is best.


Preparation time– 15 mins approx

Cooking time– 30 mins approx

Serves – 4


Skinless chicken breasts -450g approx

4 large ripe tomatoes

4 tsp Nepali spice mix

2 tbsp lime juice (fresh or bottled)

2 tsp Timuur (ground)

1-2 tbsp dried red chilli flakes (depending on how hot you like it)

6 spring onions (chopped)

2 cloves garlic (finely diced)

1 tbsp fresh ginger (finely chopped)

2 red onions (finely sliced)

Ingredients for the tempering

4 tbsp mustard oil (use vegetable oil instead if you can’t get mustard oil)

1 tbsp fenugreek seeds

2 green chillies, finely sliced

1 tsp turmeric powder

small bunch of fresh, chopped coriander

Cooking method

First bring a pan of water to the boil, add the chicken breasts and simmer for around 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.

Add the tomatoes (whole) for the last five minutes, or add them at any time if you prefer and allow them to simmer for 5 minutes and then remove them.

Remove the chicken and tomatoes and allow to cool a little.

Using your hands (or a couple of forks) shred the chicken.

Peel the skin from the tomatoes.

Now put the chicken and tomatoes into a mixing bowl.

Add everything else (not the ingredients for the tempering) into the bowl and with your hands mix everything really well, making sure the tomatoes are fully crushed as you go.

The more you mix, the tastier this dish is!

Now for the tempering…..

Heat the oil in a frying pan and when hot add the fenugreek seeds. Cook the seeds until they have turned a dark brown colour, But, be careful not to over cook and burn the seeds as this will make everything taste unpalatably bitter.

Turn off the heat and add the green chillies for around 10 seconds.

Now remove the pan from the hob, add the turmeric and quickly mix through.

Quickly, but carefully (you don’t want to burn yourself with hot oil splashes) add the tempering mix over the contents of the mixing bowl and it should “sizzle”.

You might want to do this by an open window, or under your hobs extractor fan as the fumes can be a little pungent.

Finally add the chopped coriander and mix well with a spoon and then put to one side for at least 5 minutes (a little longer is preferable) to allow all the flavours to fully infuse.

Serve with “beaten rice” or your favourite flatbread/roti and fresh salad garnish.

Choyela is usually eaten at room temperature, but if you’ve made too much keep it in the fridge (up to 3 days) and eat it cold too.

Enjoy your Choyela!

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