Bhanchha garnu bhayo?

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Have you had rice today? A staple meal in Nepal is Daal Bhat. This directly translates to rice and daal, but it really is such a poor way to describe such a versatile food. After all, there are so many ways to make this that to label it all Daal Bhat is misleading. Here is one of my favorite recipes for this traditional dish. This serves 4-6 depending on how large your portions are. I put the Nepali words for these things that I do know next to the ingredients list. If you know the others in Nepali, please comment.

1 cup massor daal (pink/red lentils)

2 large cloves garlic (lasun) (I like to press it, but its traditionally finely chopped)

1 1/2 tsp minced ginger (adhuwa) (I usually use ginger paste)

1/2 tsp salt (nun)

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds

1/8 tsp jimbu (I’ve never found this in the US, I use chives)

1/4 tsp coriander

3 tbs ghee

2 green chilies, finely chopped

a small pinch of asafetida (its worth the trip to an Indian market, I promise)

1 tbs fresh lemon juice (kagati ras)

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

3 scallions finely chopped (all but the root)

1 small tomato chopped (golbherra)

Wash and rinse the daal. I like to soak it til the water turns cloudy then rinse. A lot of recipes call for this to be soaked before cooking. It definitely makes the cooking process take less time to do this, but I think that it makes the daal rougher. I like to just cook much longer and keep adding water as needed instead of pre-soaking. This is just a matter of preference.

Combine daal, garlic, ginger, salt, turmeric, cumin powder, coriander, 1 tsp of ghee, and 4 cups of water (you can use 3 1/2 cups of water if you chose to pre-soak) either way you’ll probably end up adding water).  Use a deep saucepan or large pot. Bring to a boil and stir frequently to prevent the daal from burning to the bottom. Do not take away the foam, it will look like soap bubbles. Reduce heat to low until daal is cooked. This can take as little as 25 minutes for well pre-soaked lentils. I usually cook mine near an hour and a half and keep adding water, but again I don’t like to pre-soak.

In a separate pan melt ghee on medium heat. Add the green chilies, cumin seeds, chives (or jimbu if you are lucky enough to find some) and fry for about 5-10 seconds or until they brown. Add the asafetida, mix in the pan, then add to the daal. Mix in lemon juice and serve. Add fresh cliantro, scallions, and tomato as you see fit.

Serve with rice. I usually eat a veggie and some yogurt on the side. Eat with your fingers, it tastes better that way 😉

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