Dal Bhat is a hearty Nepalese stew created from steamed rice and lentils, alongside other local spices including, garlic, onion, ginger, coriander, turmeric, and chillies or chilli powder. The dish is considered to be the official dish of Nepal.
Traditionally, the rice is served in the middle of the dish with the lentil stew and accompanying ingredients such as curries, chutneys or achars surrounding the rice.
Utilising local ingredients, Dal Bhat is a versatile dish that differs from town to town with different versions in every region. The meal is often the daily sustenance for millions of Nepalese people and the majority of locals eat the dish at least once a day.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Dal Bhat and variations of the dish are also popular in countries neighboring Nepal. Using a combination of lentils (or other pulses), rice, and a variety of herbs, spices, and aromatics, the dish has been a daily meal for people in the country for centuries.
Traditionally the dish was eaten by laborers such as farmers, trekkers, and mountaineers, thanks to the great source of protein and carbohydrate for a relatively low cost. Often served with a variety of side dishes, the meal of often shared between friends, family and guests.
While the humble dish is a daily staple for most families, it’s also at the centre of many festivals and celebrations. During Dashain and Tihar, families come together to prepare and share elaborate versions of the dish symbolizing unity, family, and hospitality, three of the most important parts of Nepalese culture.
- Red lentils - 1 cup
- Onion (finely chopped) - 2
- Tomatoes (chopped) - 2
- Garlic (minced) - 2 cloves
- Ginger (grated) - 1 inch piece
- Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
- Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
- Coriander powder - 1 tsp
- Chili powder - 1/2 tsp (adjust to taste)
- Salt - to taste
- Vegetable oil - 2 tbsp
- Fresh cilantro leaves - for garnish
- Lemon juice (optional) - squeeze
- Long-grain rice - 2 cups
- Water - 4 cups
- Rinse the red lentils thoroughly under running water until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the finely chopped onion and sauté until it turns translucent and lightly golden.
- Stir in the minced garlic, grated ginger, and chopped
tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes soften and the oil starts to separate from the mixture.
- Add the turmeric powder, coriander powder, and chili powder.
Cook for another minute or until the spices release their aroma. Add the rinsed red lentils and stir to combine with the tomato-spice mixture.
- Pour in 4 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the soup has thickened. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed.
- Season with salt and, if desired, a squeeze of lemon juice for extra flavor.
- Rinse the rice under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain well.
- In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
- Add the rinsed rice and a pinch of salt to the boiling water. Stir once, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the rice simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed.
- Spoon a generous serving of steamed rice (bhat) onto each plate. Ladle the hot lentil soup (dal) over the rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 264Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 293mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 6gSugar: 5gProtein: 8g
Nutrition is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. It is for general information purposes and is only a rough estimation.