Food Adventures
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The blessed ‘waa’ pancake

Nepalese waa

Nepalese are foodies. Especially the Newar community among the Nepalese – like me. Living away from home, I specially miss mum’s cooking – the spices, the chillies, the curries … So any chance I get, I jump on to making Newari dishes. And one fine day, the blessed“waa” (pronounced as the wa of water) was made in my kitchen. Waa is basically black lentil pancake made with or without minced meat. Back in Nepal, Waa is a delicacy served as a snack or an entree. Its not really a very fancy dish, so that often makes me wonder why its only reserved for special occasion.

Anyways, as a reminder to myself and to anyone wanting to attempt it, here is the recipe:

Make sure you have these:

  • 1.5 cup split black lentils / urad daal
    This made about 20 waa
  • 250 gm chicken mince
  • 1 tbsp  each of finely minced ginger and garlic
  • 1 tsp each of coriander and cumin powder
  • 2 – 3 finely chopped green chillies – this really depends on your taste
  • 1/4 cup  finely chopped green coriander
  • 5 – 6 stalks of spring onions
  • a pinch of asafedita
  • salt
  • vegetable oil


  • Soak the lentils overnight

Get cooking!

  • Loosen the black covers of the soaked lentil with your fingers and basically “rinse” the covers out. You won’t need to get every cover out, but if you see that 95% of your lentil is without the covers, you will be fine. So you will need many washes.
    You may be able to get the lentils without the covers as well, but we don’t in Nepal and I wanted to keep is as “real” as possible. Washing the covers out is the tedious bit of this cooking…may be this is the reason, we didn’t cook waa that often back at home.
  • Grind the lentils until you get a smooth paste. You may need to add some water when you grind.
    Back in Nepal, the traditional way of grinding this would be on a really huge flat pestle. Some still do this today. Seriously.
  • Get the paste and the rest of the ingredients (except the oil, of course) into a bowl and mix them well.
  • Oil a nonstick flatpan and pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan. Because your batter is going to be a bit thick, you will have to flatten it out using a spoon.
  • Cook until each side of the waa is golden brown. Make sure you don’t have the heat too high, else you end up with burnt edges and raw insides…(like some of mine)

Once done, serve it warm with something spicy, like I did – with a tangy potato salad.

I actually came to know that asafedita is an important part of the dish, only after I had made the dish…That was a shame. But the waa tasted good, nevertheless!


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