recipe by serge
The DAL BHAT
Anyone who has gallivanted in this region of the Himalayas will have fond memories of this traditional emblematic Nepalese dish. It is a combination of white rice (Bhat), lentil soup (Dal) and curried vegetables (Takari), occasionally served with various spicy pickles. In some Kathmandu restaurants the Dal Bhat is accompanied with a fermented yoghourt drink called a Lassi.
In our developed society the preoccupation with our alimentation being eco-responsible continuously takes greater proportions, yet here we see with this traditional daily dish that it is an intuitive and necessary practice in poorer countries. The rice and lentils come from the Taraï plains, in the centre of Nepal. Their long conservation is managed without any energy consumption. The vegetable curry is made with vegetables available in the village. Most commonly we find carrots, potatoes, cabbage and turnips.
It is also a remarkably well-balanced meal. The rice produces complex sugars (slow energy releasing in sporting language). The lentils are packed with protein as well as iron and vitamin B. The vegetables provide essential minerals, vitamins and fibre.
Dal Bhat is vegetarian through choice, not cultural due to the dominant Nepalese Hinduism and Buddhism religions. Nowadays developed countries are concerned about their carbon footprint and are trying to reduce their energy and water consumption. Did you know that producing one calorie of animal protein consumes on average 7 times more fossil fuel than one calorie of vegetable protein? Similarly, the energy efficiency rating for meat production, notably beef cattle, shows water consumption is about 5 times higher. A worrying observation when information shows that in France in the last 100 years the consumption of meat per person has multiplied threefold. This trend is worldwide yet to a lesser extent (+40% increase in the last thirty years).
An ideal reason to invite friends for Dal Bhat, this tasty vegetarian dish that also contributes to preserving the planet, so we can enjoy a few more years of snow on Kilimanjaro…
Ingredients (for 6 people):
– 500g white rice (preferably basmati)
– 350g dry yellow lentils
– 300g carrots
– 300g potatoes
– 200g green cabbage
– 200g cauliflower
– 2 shallots
– salt, curry, garam masala*, a few sprigs of fresh coriander
– lassi* and pickles
(* If you cannot find garam masala, combine the spices cumin, cinnamon, clove, coriander, nutmeg and cardamon together. The lassi can be replaced with an acidic yoghourt, Greek for example).
Peel and prepare the vegetables. Slice the carrots into discs, the potatoes into cubes, the cabbage into strips, and the cauliflower into florets.
Finely slice the shallots and simmer in a little butter in a pan. Sprinkle over some garam masala spices and salt. Add the lentils after rinsing them under cold water. Cover with water and leave to simmer gently. Check on the amount of liquid depending on the desired consistency. You want it to resemble a thick soup.
Then bring 2L of salted water to the boil and add a soupspoon of curry powder. Plunge the carrots and the cabbage in at the same time. Add the potatoes a few minutes later.
Cook the rice in salted water, or ideally steam it (rice cooker).
Individually serve your guests with a large plate comprising of a portion of hot rice surrounded by small bowls containing the lentils and vegetables separately. You can also add a lassi and some pickles. Sprinkle some fresh coriander leaves over the rice.
Who’s Serge ?