Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nepalese Cuisine - Dhal Bhat and Aloo Ko Achar

I've never been to Nepal, but when I looked it up for the blog event 'Flavours of Nepal', hosted by Nupur from UK Rasoi and started by simply.food, I was really astonished about the extremely diverse biogeography of this small country.Despite its size, you have everything here, from the highest mountain peak (Mount Everest), to the deepest gorge (Kali Gandaki Gorge) on earth; from steppes to forests to eternal ice.

I really loved this photo from the Nepalese Culture, Travel & Tourism web page :)
If I will ever visit Nepal I'm gonna buy Yak wool. I could sooo need it at the moment.

Another reason to visit Nepal would be its archaeology; from temples and palaces to long abandoned high-mountain settlements; from rock art to Lumbini, the birthplace of the Lord Buddha. You will miss nothing while on a holiday in Nepal.

Kak Nyingba Petroglyphs
Perdita Pohle 2003, Figs. 7.1 and 7.2

As diverse as their geography and archaeology is Nepal's cuisine. Influences from India, Tibet, China and the indigenous Newari culture created a unique mixture that will challenge the most spoilt taste buds. You can find examples and recipes on many web pages, the Explore Nepal web page is just one of them with many recipes from salted butter tea to momos, which are basically Newari-style filled dumplings.

But by now you'd rather know what dishes I choose to cook for the blog event, right?

I decided on traditional staple food, a Dhal Bhat (lentils with rice) and Aloo Ko Achar (spicy potato salad).

and here are the recipes:

Dhal Bhat
adapted from Vegetarian Food Recipes


  • 1cup lentils (I used green ones) soaked overnight
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • a piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 fresh green chili, chopped (I used a red one)
  • 2 garlic gloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1-2 teaspoons kopan masala (a sweet masala due to the high amount of cinnamon, you can easily grind it yourself)
  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • cilantro for garnish

 What to do:

Bring the broth to a boil and add the soaked lentils. Simmer until lentils are tender. Add garlic, ginger and chili and blend until smooth. Return to your pot, add the salt, sugar, and tamarind concentrate and simmer until the tamarind concentrate is dissolved.
Meanwhile wash the rice and cook it in 4 cups of water.
Fry the black mustard seeds in the mustard seed oil. When they start popping pour them together with the oil over the lentils. Simmer for another couple of minutes. Stir in the masala. Cover and let it stand for a couple of minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

Aloo Ko Achar (Spicy Potato Salad)

adapted from Vegetarian Food Recipes

  • 750 g potatoes
  • 1 green or red chili, thinly sliced
  • juice of 1 lime (I actually needed two because mine were not very juicy at all)
  • Himalayan salt
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds - roasted and roughly ground
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (curcuma powder)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (whole)
  • dried chili (if you like it hot) to taste
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed oil
  • 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
  • a small bunch of cilantro
Boil the potatoes, peel and cut into cubes. Combine the turmeric, salt, ground sesame seeds, lime juice, half of the chopped cilantro with the water and mix thoroughly. Add the cubed potatoes. In a pan heat the mustard oil, add cumin seeds and chili. Fry until the cumin starts smelling nicely and pour over the salad. Mix everything and garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!


  1. Nepal ist unbedingt eine Reise wert. Ich habe die Berge erlebt und war beeindruckt. Ebenso nachhaltig in meiner Erinnerung: Kathmandu, Newari-Dörfer, die Königsstädte im Kathmandu-Tal (Bhaktapur!!). Sehr indisch die Gegend um Janakpur, ein kleiner Kulturschock und so anders als der Rest des Landes. Die Küche sehr einfach, sehr fleischarm, bunt und voller Entdeckungen. Wie Nepal selbst :) Viele Grüße!

  2. So Sorry Torwen, I dont know how did I miss your post, have attached it now to the Round up page, pleaes have a look.

    Sorry again dear , it indeed is a wonderful post

    UK Rasoi

  3. @Schokozwerg: Das klingt wunderbar, du musst eine schöne Zeit dort erlebt haben :) vielleicht schaff ich es ja auch mal hinzukommen; 'fleischarm' klingt schon mal sehr verlockend!

    @Nupur: Thank you so much for adding my contribution. Since the email I sent you didn't procuce an error or something I assumed you received it, well you never know. Thanks for hosting this, I'm digging through the recipes now :)