Based on several weeks of living in Nepal... And traveling across the Indian Subcontinent.
Sadly cleanliness and hygiene are not priority issues across the Indian subcontinent when it comes to food production, especially at the local level. Power cuts, lack of refrigeration Nepal is no exception and gorging on the local delicacies can easily land visitors with a spell of 'Delhi Belly' a visit to hospital and at worst an early flight home. Plenty of health advice is available from the UK authorities - taking those Jabs is paramount and heeding the advice on which foods to avoid will reduce the risk of being poisoned. Do some research, develop a strategy and hopefully a trouble free trip will ensue.
So, with a strategy in hand, this may be a good time for Western visitors to shed a few pounds - forget those beef burgers, chips and all the other gunk the tourist strip can throw and eat local. Save some cash whilst enjoying the local food scene unabated - following a few simple rules can leave visitors feeling culturally rewarded and pretty satisfied and most importantly with their health intact. After living in Nepal for nearly 4 months heres how I have managed to maintain my health and enjoy the local food scene.
1. Seek out an acceptable local cafe - as clean as will be achieved in Nepal, with the least amount of flies buzzing around and most importantly friendly faces in the kitchen and behind the till. No easy feat and may mean some street pounding but worth it in the long run.
2. Get to know the menu inside out. Avoid meat, eat vegetarian. Here at Mr. Ps they eat very little meat - occasionally chicken but predominantly vegetable based dishes. Often these places double as family homes and nearly always there will be a kid hanging round. So, eat what they eat and especially eat what they feed the kids. It may not look the most appetising dish, but guaranteed safe and tasty enough.
3. Eat at the same place as often as possible and let the kid play with the IPad. Eventually this will lead to some extra tasty food, a few freebies thrown in and access to a TV, all this with health intact.
4. I won't eat buffalo, or goat for that matter, under any circumstances. Dairy products arrive chilled, often frozen and thus far haven't been any cause for concern here at Mr Ps.
I don't particularly like Momo's - just not my thing. The desire for Western gunk has passed, a long time ago. Oh, and no fish either, unless of course it's in a tin. Uncooked items I won't eat period! That included tomatoes, plums, grapes etc....
5. Having established a rapport I have managed to introduce some subtle changes to the menu namely breakfast. I'll buy the cereal, they supply the milk and a banana. It all works just fine - a days food (excluding lunch) including numerous cups of milk tea, coffee averages to about £1.25.
6. And what about lunch? It's downtown at Prithivi Chowk and with the same principle applied as above. A small unit, not that clean to be honest but I can see the food being prepared and it's well cooked - above all it's fresh, especially the aloo paratha - just bootiful! Oh, and the milk/water for tea is well boiled, I can see that as it often nears the overflow point.
So there it is. After four seasons of travelling across Asia and the Indian Subcontinent I have remained free of Delhi belly, although I will admit to the odd dose of the trots, but even that's on a rare occasion.