Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Dal Bhat - Pokhara
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Pokhara is a small Nepalese city tucked into the foothills of the Annapurna range of the Himalayas. Things, including time, move slowly here. Cars are not yet a problem, television transmission is intermittent and the air is fresh and clear. While the area tries to keep a low profile, 100,000 travelers arrive here every year. The city is a mecca for climbers and trekkers who account for 80% of its visitors. The area is also a retirement haven for Gurkha officers whose presence, coincidentally, keeps the crime rate low and the economy healthy. Those who come are charmed and pampered. Many stay. Hence, I can happily report it is possible to get fabulous pizza in the foothills of the Himalayas. The old city is much like the Kathmandu of my imagination, but accommodations are first-rate and are a welcoming place to train for, or recover from, strenuous outdoor activity. Part of the daily panoply is watching helicopters evacuate trekkers who have underestimated the toll that altitude will take on their bodies. Most recover poolside and still have the time of their life. I was completely charmed by Pokhara and its residents. If you are lured by the unusual and enjoy back roads and byways, Pokhara will enchant you as well.
In Nepal there's a entree called a Nepali set. It is an assortment of dishes arranged on a plate especially designed to feature each component of the meal. I'd like to take you through those components a step at a time and, today, we'll start with the two most basic elements of the dish. Rice and lentil are the staples of the Nepali people. They are eaten twice a day in a dish that's called Dal Bhat. The dish may be supplemented with curried vegetables, called Tarkari and pickles, but rice and lentils are always part of the meal. They will also appear on our expanded versions of the Nepali set that we'll build a step at a time. Here is the recipe for the rice and lentils that form the base of the Nepalese diet.
Dal Bhat...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
Plain Rice (Bhat)
2 cups rice (Basmati or Long grain preferred)
4 cups (1 lt) water
1 teaspoon butter (optional)
1-1/2 cups lentil (any kind)
4 to 5 cups of water (depends preference of your consistency of liquid)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
6 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee)
3/4 cup sliced onions
2 chillies (dried red chilies preferred)
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon fresh ginger paste (optional)
1) To prepare rice: Wash rice and soak for 5 minutes. Boil the rice over medium heat for about 10 -15 minutes. Stir once thoroughly. Add butter. Turn the heat to low and cook, covered, for 5 more minutes until done
2) To prepare lentils: Wash lentils and soak lentil for 10 minutes. Remove anything that floats and drain. Place lentil in fresh water and bring to a boil. Add all spices. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes until lentils are soft and have the consistency of oatmeal. In a small pan, heat remaining butter and fry onions, chilies and garlic. Stir into lentils a few minutes before you stop boiling. Serve with rice.
You might also enjoy these recipes:
Nepali Dal Bhat - Zack's Travel Musings
Dal Bhat - Experiments in My Kitchen
Dal Bhat - Yeti-Zone Trekking