Lentils are the stars in this famous Nepali dish, which is often enjoyed as an appetizer or snack. Naturally gluten-free and vegan, it's a light and healthy pancake just perfect to combine with a range of delicious fillings.

Tulshi Ram Shrestha, wife Chandika Shrestha and Kamala Khanal

Tulshi Ram and Chandika Shrestha and Kamala Khanal cooked up a veritable storm in the Carevan kitchen, recreating an iconic Nepalese dish to share with the Wagga Wagga community. This recipe travelled with Chandika all the way from the Newari Community of Kathmandu in Nepal.

What is your earliest memory of eating this dish?

On my 4th birthday I ate Wo as part of a good luck ceremony called “Sagun”.

How did you learn to cook it?

We learn to cook Wo from our mothers – the recipe is passed from generation to generation.

Is this a regular “everyday” meal, or something more special?

Wo is not an everyday meal. Wo is made specially for happy occasions such as birthdays, weddings and other special ceremonies. It is also used with a Newari set lunch called “Samhebaji”, prepared during festivals. For occasions like birthdays and weddings it is used in a ceremony for good luck, called “Sagun”. During the Sagun ceremony, Wo is served with boiled egg and fried fish. In ancient times, Wo was specially made and fed to people who were sick and weak to provide them with some energy.

Newari Bara or Wo with Chu La and Aachar

Serves approximately 5 people, depending on size of Wo

Ingredients for Wo (Lentil Pancake)

  • ½ kg black lentils
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • Vegetable oil

Ingredients for Chu La (Mince Curry)

  • ½ kg turkey mince (or mince of choice)
  • 2 tbsp garlic
  • 2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Coriander to garnish

Ingredients for Tomato Pickle (Aachar)

  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 dry red chillies
  • 3 fresh red chillies

Instructions for Wo

  • Soak lentils overnight.
  • Wash hands thoroughly.
  • Peel skin off lentils and pick out any dirt or debris after overnight soak.
  • Blend lentils in a blender to make a paste: be careful to not make it too thick or too runny, but a good in-between pourable consistency. You may need to add 2 to 3 tbsp of water at a time to get your blender going, but do not add too much water or the mixture will be too runny.
  • Add the cumin, garlic and ginger paste and salt to taste to the lentil paste. Mix properly.
  • Heat a non-stick frying pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil.
  • Pour some of the lentil batter into the pan to form a pancake, not too thick or spread too thin. When one side is brown, flip it over with a spatula and brown the other side. You may need to brush some extra oil around the edges of the pancake to cook it properly.
  • Serve it hot once all the Wo is cooked.

Instructions for Chu La

  • Wash hands thoroughly.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan. Add chopped onion and fry until translucent.
  • Add mince and fry until browned, loosening mix with wooden spoon.
  • Add turmeric, cumin, garlic and ginger paste, and salt to taste.
  • Stir well and cook for xx minutes.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and stir mix.
  • Cook through.
  • Once cooked, garnish with coriander and serve on Wo.

Instructions for Aachar

  • Heat oil in a frying pan.
  • Add cumin seeds and dry red chillies.
  • Once the chillies turn brown, add tomatoes, turmeric and salt.
  • Cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes.
  • Let it cool and transfer mix to a blender.
  • Add garlic and fresh chillies and blend well.

Variations on this recipe:

Contemporary cooks sometimes deep fry Wo. Tomato pickle and mushroom curry can be added as side dishes for vegetarians. Serve with mince curry during special occasions such as a dinner feast or serve with eggs and fried fish on birthdays during the morning. Leftovers can be used to make soup.

Download Recipe here

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