The cuisine of Nepal, a true Himalayan kingdom, has been influenced by Tibet, India, and other south east Asian countries. Of late, it is also common to find some western influences. Traditionally, Nepali cuisine can be divided into Pahari cuisine, Himalayan cuisine, Thakali cuisine, Newar cuisine & Madhesi cuisine. Amongst the Pahari cuisine, the main dish is Dal (black lentils) and Bhat (rice) served along with Tarkari (vegetable curry).
Himalayan cuisine uses more of noodles and Tsampa (or Tsamba) while momos are filled with meat. Butter Tea is served all through the day. Thakali cuisine uses meats from sheep & yak along with potatoes and eggs. Newar cuisine includes dishes like bean soup, Chatamari (rice crepe), Choyla, Kwati (mixed soup), Tawkhaa, Pukala (fried meat), etc. Madhesi cuisine, being closer to the plains in lower hills of Shivalik region, includes a much larger variety of staple crops like wheat, barley, and rice. It is heavily influenced by the border states of India.
For today’s recipes, I picked up Dal Bhat Recipe, which is most common in Nepal. Dal Bhat is cooked lentils served with rice. The dal is cooked with turmeric and salt and finally, clarified butter or ghee is added to augment the taste. The rice is simply boiled. This is a comfort food for the natives of Nepal since it can be prepared easily and quickly. It is one of the most simplest and balanced meals, and you would love it every time you make it.
Here is a simple recipe to make Dal Bhat.
Ingredients (serves 3 to 4)
- Yellow pigeon peas (arhar dal/ lentil) - 1 cup
- Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Tomato - 1/2 cup (chopped)
- Clarified butter (ghee) - 2 tbsp
- Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
- Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
- Onion - 1/2 cup (chopped)
- Green chili - 1 (chopped)
- Ginger - 1 tsp (chopped)
- Garlic - 1 tsp (chopped)
- Rice - 1 cup
- Water - 2 cups
How to Cook Dal Bhat
- Mix yellow pigeon peas with 4 cups of water and add turmeric powder, salt and tomato.
- Pressure cook till done (about 2 whistles on high heat and 2 on low).
- Heat clarified butter in a pan to make the tadka
- Once heated add onion, green chili, ginger & garlic and fry for about 2 minutes.
- Add asafoetida, cumin seeds and let it crackle.
- Add the prepared tadka to the prepared dal.
- Cook rice with water on low heat until it is done.
- Serve Dal Bhat together with vegetable of your choice.