Culture Recipe of the Month

Recipe Of The Month: Choila

As part of a new series focusing on food, The International is inviting writers to share a recipe that reminds them of home. This month, Sophie Nepali teaches us how to serve up Choila – a go-to meal from Nepal.

By Sophie Nepali

As my own surname somewhat gives away, my family is from Kathmandu, Nepal, and we are Newar. 

The Newar compromise half of the population of Kathmandu and speak a Sino-Tibetan language called Newari. This differs from the national language which is Nepali and is one of the 122 languages spoken in Nepal. 

I have grown up eating nepalese food on a daily basis and my grandmother’s cooking is delicious. Since moving to Hong Kong and not having the luxury of eating these meals, I decided it was time to learn how to cook these dishes from scratch! 

Choila or Chhwela (Nepali: छ्वेला) is a typical Newari dish that goes well with rice and dahl, or even just as a quick high protein snack. Traditionally, buffalo meat is used but nowadays it is common to use mutton, duck, chicken, and mushrooms. I use chicken, but for the veggies out there mushroom is a tasty alternative!

Above: The finished Choila.

The great thing about this dish is that because it is served cold you can add in pretty much whatever veg you want and mix things up every time. 

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  • Chicken breast 
  • Half an onion 
  • Sesame oil 
  • Spices: turmeric, cumin, fenugreek seeds, salt, pepper, chilli flakes (optional) 
  • Coriander 
  • Additional vegetables: Red pepper, spring onion, cherry tomatoes
  • Sesame seeds (optional) 


  • Dice half an onion 
  • Chop any other vegetables you would like to add. (Pepper, spring onion, tomatoes)
  • Remove the coriander stem and finely chop 


Step one:

  • Place chicken breast into a saucepan and fill the pan with water until it just covers the chicken breast. 
  • Add half a teaspoon of turmeric and a pinch of salt to the pan and give it a little stir into the water.
  • Turn on the heat to a medium setting and place the lid on the pan, leaving the chicken to boil.

Step two: 

  • Heat a pan on the hob and add a decent amount of oil. I use sesame oil for more flavour but olive oil also works well. 
  • Fry half a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds until they are a dark brown colour. You don’t want too much of this as it can overpower the taste of other spices. 
  • Fry cumin seeds or add cumin powder.
  • Add the diced onion, salt and pepper into the pan and lightly fry.
  • Turn off the heat.

Step three: 

  • Once the chicken is boiled, take the chicken breast out of the saucepan and cut or shred it into bitesize pieces.
  • Place the chicken breast in the frying pan.
  • Pour some of the chicken broth left in the saucepan into the frying pan.
  • Add more oil and extra spices if you want more flavour. For those of you that enjoy spicy food, now is the time to add chili flakes or powder into the mix! 
  • Add the other vegetables and coriander into the mix. I couldn’t find any spring onion in the shops at the time and had no pepper in the fridge (whoops) but I would really recommend adding them both. 
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and using your hands, mix everything together. This mixes better than with a wooden spoon in my experience. 

Step four:

  • Place your Choila in a bowl and garnish with sesame seeds and more coriander.
  • Your Choila is ready to eat!

Sophie Nepali is a staff writer for The InternationalShe runs the Smiles Across Nepal Instagram account, which you can follow here.