happiness is...

happiness is...
kenya 2010

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

dal-bhat-tarkari: day 1

i have finished my second meal of dal-bhat-tarkari (lentils-rice-curried veggies) for the day, and i have lived to tell about it! i have to tell you a secret. i don't like rice. this is going to be tough. i don't hate rice, but i don't like it either. i grew up seeing rice as a means to get sauce to my mouth, and nothing more. it was a boring, plain, calorie-laden filler with little nutritional value and less taste. i am hoping that this experiment will help me develop an appreciation for, if not a love of, rice. it is a staple in nearly every country but ours... so here goes! the second batch is on the stove simmering and i made enough to last a couple of days this time so that i don't have to cook the SAME meal every day. that would probably get more monotonous to me than eating the same meal every day. we'll see.

i went to the store to collect the ingredients for the dish on new year's day. there are a surprising number, really, most of which are spices. i decided to go "all authentic" but found that was a bit optimistic. i tried my best to find asafetida and jimbu, but with no luck. when i did the research and found that asafetida's other name is "devil's dung" because it smells so awful, i lowered the intensity of my search. it is said to taste like garlic and onions, so i decided to use garlic and onions instead.

here is a list of ingredients for the dal-bhat-tarkari "diet":
ghee and/'or oil
rice (white)
veggies- seems like they use whatever's on hand, but the recipes i could find had things like potatoes, cauliflower, peas, tomatoes, and carrots
onions and garlic- lots of each (see above note on "asafetida") :)
fresh ginger
spices- curry powder, turmeric, cumin (powder and/or seed), salt

today's tarkari ingredients- onion, garlic, carrots, green pepper, and sweet potato

one thing that all the nepali dal-bhat-tarkari recipes have in common is that the list of ingredients in no way matches the instructions given on how to prepare. you'll see potatoes and carrots listed, but no mention of them in the actual recipe, or you'll see "add tomatoes" in the instructions but no tomatoes in the ingredient list. i will attempt to give a basic recipe below that matches ingredients with the recipe. maybe that's very american of me? oh well- old habits are hard to break. here goes...

in one pot, put rice and twice as much water (ie: one cup rice, two cups water...or two cups rice, four cups water). bring to boil. turn to low and cover, simmering for 15 minutes. "fluff". take off head and cover again for another 5 minutes. DONE!

in another pot,rinse your lentils and drain. then bring lentils and water to a boil. i use the double rule again, but it depends on how brothy you want them. as they come to a boil, saute chopped onions and garlic in a teaspoon or two of ghee and/or oil until translucent. add them to the lentils, along with a teaspoon each of curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and fresh minced ginger. turn to low and cook for 30ish minutes. at that point, see if lentils are soft enough. if needed, add more water and more spices and salt to taste. continue cooking for up to 45 minutes depending on desired consistency.

while lentils are cooking, melt ghee/oil in pan and add cut vegetables and spices (again use curry, cumin, turmeric, salt, etc...). fry in pan for a few minutes until beginning to soften and brown. add water and simmer, covered, until veggies soften. add less water for a thicker and drier dish- more for more of a stew.

put blob of rice on plate. add lentils and veggies. mix together and enjoy! i haven't tried eating with my fingers, yet, like they do in nepal. that seems more like a "day 3" activity.

the cravings have already begun. it is going to be a long 2 weeks.


  1. I (Shirley L) make variations of this dish frequently. It's just so yummy. I leave out the rice sometimes.

  2. Actually it sounds yummy....my kind of food - but NOT with fingers. Maybe you can keep a secret spoon tucked away (cate)

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  4. Well, if it weren't for the ghee, I'd say you're eating vegan. I think I'll try it (without the ghee). Maybe I'll use olive oil. ;0

  5. very interesting blog
    keep continue