Nepal: Dal Bhat

Considering the ethnic diversity of the population of Nepal, can we really speak of Nepalese cuisine? It is clear that Nepal is ideally located from a culinary point of view with Tibet to the north and India to the south.

Nepalese cuisine borrows mainly from the culinary traditions of these two countries that are heavy on spices and condiments.

I confess that when browsing Asian recipes, I do not feel the same lack of inspiration I face with Africa. This time, I didn’t have to call my friends for help as I recently did for my Sudanese macaroons. I had plenty of options!

The recipe I chose to make today is THE vegetarian Nepalese dish. This is the basic meal for the country, consisting of rice and lentils, dal bhat. It is composed of white rice (bhat) and lentils (dal) and it is typically accompanied by a vegetable curry (tarkari), a mixture of spicy vegetables (pickles) and greens (sak). It is eaten with papadums in a large metal tray.

On 196 flavors this week, we eat with our hands and no silverware! However, unlike Mike’s qurutob which can be enjoyed with both hands, Nepalese dal bhat may only be eaten with the right hand. That is the rule!

Like all Asian cuisines, Nepalese cuisine is rich in healthy recipes. I am not going to go over the benefits of rice again as I already covered them in my chicken majboos post so let’s talk about the lentils.

Did you know? Lentils provide a large amount of vegetable protein and should, as part of a healthy diet be accompanied by a grain and a vegetable. Dal bhat is therefore a very balanced meal!

Researching for this post made me realize that I was really neglecting lentils in my cuisine. This legume that comes in various colors has so many therapeutic benefits, not to mention all the vitamins it contains!

Just a small amount of lentils a couple times a week helps prevent and reduce anemia, mental fatigue, general weakness, diabetes, cancer and cholesterol. But wait, there’s more!

Lentils are also recommended for insomnia. OK, what else? Interesting information for the men, lentils are an aphrodisiac and they make you rich! This information comes straight from Italy! As the saying goes over there, “you have to eat lentils on New Year’s Day to be rich and healthy for the year!” Those Italians definitely know how to live! Do not forget the virtues of tiramisu!

But let’s not digress too much from Nepal and dal bhat that I highly recommend. It was a huge hit with my three men too!

Recipe of Dal Bhat


For the dal (lentils)

    1 cup lentils
    3 1/2 cup water
    2 onions
    2 garlic cloves
    1 teaspoon garam masala
    5 cardamom seeds
    4 tablespoons neutral oil

For the bhat (rice)

    1 cup basmati rice
    3 cups water
    Kosher salt

For the tarkari (vegetable curry )

    1 lb cauliflower florets
    3 potatoes, peeled and diced
    3 carrots, cut into thick slices
    1 cup peas
    1 onion, minced
    3 garlic cloves, crushed
    1 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    3 cardamom seeds
    1 small chili
    A few saffron threads
    1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
    1 teaspoon cumin
    4 tablespoons neutral oil

For the sak (green)

    1 lb spinach, chopped
    2 onions
    3 garlic cloves
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon garam masala
    4 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the pickles

    1/2 lb green beans
    1 kohlrabi
    3 carrots
    2 garlic cloves
    1 spring onion
    1/2 teaspoon curry powder
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons cider vinegar or wine
    1 lime juice


Dal (lentils)
Rinse the lentils with water, drain for 10 minutes and pat dry.

Heat oil over medium heat. Fry the onions and garlic for 1 minute and add the pepper, cardamom, salt and garam masala.

Add the lentils and sauté a little.

Cover with cold water and cook covered over medium heat until the lentils get a little mushy (about 1 hour).

Bhat (rice)
Place the rice in water with salt, bring to boil and then keep on low heat until water is completely absorbed.

Tarkari (vegetable curry)
Sauté onions for a few minutes. Add garlic, salt and garam masala.

Add the potatoes and fry well.

Add water to cover three quarters and add the peas, pepper and remaining spices.

Cook over medium heat for 45 minutes.

Sak (green)
Sauté onions and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for a few minutes.

Add spinach, cook over medium / high for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add salt, pepper and spices.

Place over low heat, cover and cook spinach in juice for 30 minutes.

Reduce the sauce if necessary.

Wash and cut the length cabbage, carrots and beans, fry in oil for 5 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of water and blanch over low heat for 15 minutes.

Add curry powder, vinegar and lime.

Add salt and pepper.

Cook for 5 to 10 additional minutes.

Serve warm or cold.

Serve dal bhat with papadums.

dal bhat