Learn about the main food of the country and briefs on a few other dishes popular among Nepalese are included.
Welcome to the world of DAAL BHAAT and TARKARI and a little bit of everything in between!
Nepalese national food consists of Lentils (DAAL), Rice (BHAAT), and vegetable curry (TARKARI). Popular side dishes include pickles (Achar) of many varieties of which the most popular are tomato achar, mango achar, and cucumber achar.
Most Nepalese eat with right-hand. Daal Bhaat is popularly served on a plate known as khope thal (a platter with four sections, like the one shown above). Daal Bhaat is taken as a lunch and a dinner. For many nothing else will satisfy their taste buds, and one plate full of Daal Bhaat is never enough! Click on the menu options below to discover Nepali food.
- Daal (Lentils)
- Bhaat (Rice)
- Tarkari (Curry)
- Achar (Pickle)
- Other Dishes
- Visit Nepali Restaurants Near You!
- Web Links
Daal (Lentils) – the creamy protein delight
Boil 1 cup lentils of any variety in water until cooked. Add turmeric, salt, ginger and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a serving spoon, add chopped garlic pieces, and if you like, add minced onions. When they turn brown in color, plunge the spoon into the lentils dish cautiously to bring about killer aroma!
Rinse rice in water to get rid of excess starch. For every cup of rice, add 1 1/2 cups water. Bring the rice to boil, uncovered, at medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes, stir the rice in between, then turn the heat down to low. Place the lid on the pot, keeping it tight, cook for another five minutes. Simmer for another 10 minutes and serve. Make sure to taste Bhat of various types!!
Basmati: Basmati is the most famous aromatic rice mainly grown in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal, India and Pakistan. Rice has a nutlike fragrance, and a delicate. It has near buttery flavor. The cooked grains are dry and fluffy, so they make a nice bed for curries and sauces, oh yes… for Nepali Tarkari! Aged basmati rice is better, but is more expensive.
Jasmine: This is a raditional long-grain white rice grown mainly in Thailand which has a soft texture. It has similar flavor that of basmati rice. Jasmine rice is also grown in the United States and in other countries. Rice is is available in both white or brown forms.
Arborio: Arborio is a starchy white rice, with an almost round grain, grown mainly in the Po Valley of Italy. Traditionally used for cooking the Italian dish risotto, it also works well for paella and rice pudding. Arborio absorbs up to five times its weight in liquid as it cooks, which results in grains of a creamy consistency.
Aromatic rices: These are primarily long-grain varieties that have a toasty, nutty fragrance and a flavor reminiscent of popcorn or roasted nuts. Most of these can be found in grocery stores, but a few may be available only at gourmet shops.
Glutinous rice (sweet rice): Popular in Japan and other Asian countries, this type of short-grain rice is not related to other short-grain rices. Unlike regular table rice, this starchy grain is very sticky and resilient, and turns translucent when cooked. Its cohesive quality makes it suitable for rice dumplings and cakes, such as the Japanese mochi, which is molded into a shape.
Texmati: Certain types of rice–some sold only under a trade name–have been developed in the United States to approximate the flavor and texture of basmati rice. Texmati is one of these; it was developed to withstand the hot Texas climate (there is also a brown rice version).
Wehani: An American-grown aromatic rice, Wehani has an unusual rust-colored bran that makes it turn mahogany when cooked.
Wild pecan (popcorn rice): Another basmati hybrid, this aromatic rice is tan in color (because not all of the bran has been removed, with a pecanlike flavor and firm texture.
Did you know? In general, rice is a good source of B vitamins, such as thiamin and niacin, and also provides iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. Although rice is lower in protein than other cereal grains, its protein quality is good because it contains relatively high levels of the amino acid lysine. Avoid washing rice to retain water-soluable B vitamins. Also milled and polished rice contains less vitamins.
arkari (Vegetable Curry) – delightful aroma sensation
Mix any fresh vegetables, add curry powder and other spice, cook them in water or stir fry, you now have a dish fit for any king!
Aloo Gobi ko Tarkari: (Curry of Potatoes and Cauliflower) – Popular vegetable Tarkari with high status value is popularly known as Aloo Gobi, where Aloo means Potatoes and Gobi means Cauliflower. Cut potatoes, and tomatoes into medium chunks, and cut cauliflower into flowerets. Put 2 tablespoon oil in a pan, in a medium heat stir onions for a minute, then add potatoes and stir fry till potatoes are slightly brown, then add cauliflower and stir for another minute or two. Add powdered or chopped ginger, garlic, and curry and turmeric powder. Pour down water till vegetables are covered. Add salt to taste. Add tomatoes then cover the pan, cook in medium heat, add water if required to cook until vegetables are tender. Serve it hot with Bhaat! Use less water to make the Tarkari’s gravy thicker. When cooking dry Aloo Gobi, cut vegetable into small chunks so they cook faster. Dry Aloo Gobi is equally a killer with a bowl of Daal! Curry can be anything, just add curry powder, spice and cook as you like! Other popular curries you should try are Beans Curry, Lamb Curry, Chicken Curry, and Mutton Curry.
Did you know? Three florets of cauliflower a day will provide you with 67% of your daily vitamin C requirement. Cauliflower helps fight against cancer, helps keep your immune system strong. It has folate, which helps your blood work more efficiently and is often recommended for preventing anemia.
Saag Tarkari (Leafy Green Vegetables Curry) – One of the most popular Nepali side dishes is Saag, which is chopped green leaves of mustard or turnip cooked alone or with other vegetables such as potatoes. Chop greens and cut potatoes into small chunks. Add a little bit of olive or mustard oil into a pan, stir fry potatoes until half coocked, then add greens, salt and turmeric. Stir occasionaly, add water if required to cook. Dish is ready when the potatoes are tender and the greens are just cooked (over cooking releases vitamin contents) Dish is ready to serve with your Nepali Dal Bhat, try it today!
Did you know? A 1/2 cup of cooked mustard greens have 130 mg Folic Acid, 52mg Calcium and 140mg Potassium, 11 Calories, 2121IU of Vitamin A and 18mg of Vitamin C. One of mustard’s greatest health benefits is that it provides tremendous flavor for few calories and little fat.
Gundruk or Sinki ko Jhol (soup / curry of fermented vegetable products) – This is the number one Nepali curry of the winter season. Visit any Nepali home during winter, you are most likely to smell Gundruk or Sinki aroma in the kitchen! Gundruk is made by first fermenting green leaves of either mustard, cauliflower, or radish or a combination of them, then sun-drying them. For Gundruk, fresh green leaves are plucked from the garden, sun dried for a day or two before packing tightly in a container with a air-tight lid. Containers stand for a week or more until the leaves takes upon natural fermentation process due to lactic acid bacteria. After a thorough fermentation, the whole contents of the container are spread out on a thin plastic sheet, which are sun-dried fully for several days, then stored in containers. For Sinki, break or cut vegetables into small pieces and spread them out on a think plastic sheet, sun-dry completely for several days, then stored in a tight container. Gundruk and Sinki can last upto a year or more, they are good appetizers. Cook Gundruk or Sinki alone or with other vegetables. They can also be served as a pickle. Soak them before use for soft and tender taste. Enjoy Gundruk, you will love it!
Recipe for your typical Nepali Tomato Achar.
- 2 cups roasted tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon each garlic and ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon each cumin, coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- 3 fresh red chilies, minced
- 1 tablespoon each mustard seeds, and mustard oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or salt to taste
- 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon green onion, finely chopped
Using a blender, blend all ingredients to form a smooth paste. Heat one tablespoon of mustard oil in a pan, add slices of garlic and fry till light brown. Add the paste, stir and serve chilled. You just made Tomato Achar. Now to make Achar of mangoes or cucumber follow similar recipe. To make achar more sour and spicy, add fresh lemon juice and chili.
Lime Pickle: you can make Lime or lemon pickle at home easily too!. Try this pickle which has excellent source of vitamin c and digestive enzymes. Take a bunch of fress lemon or lime. Remove about quarter of the skin all the way around or rub skin against clean hard surface. Put limes in whole in an empty glass jar, fill it up with salt, and close the lid. Softer lime skin will help absorbe the salt. Keep the jar for a week or more. Your pickle is now ready to serve!
A few words on Chili…
Most bottled Nepalese / Asian pickles have chill in them. Chili adds to the pickle’s sensation. Add a little chili fresh green or dry-powdered in your pickle. Chili helps fight pain, temporarily increases the metabolism and eases nasal congestion. It can also discourage blood clots and stimulate the circulation. It can be a digestive aid and have anti-inflammatory effects. However, too much Chili can burn your mouth and stomach, so it is not wise to eat too much of it, as constant irritation of the stomach may increase your risk of developing stomach cancer. Eat it wisely. Green Chili is better than dry-powdered chili as it has more Vitamin C content.
Did you know? : Pickles (Achar) have are excellent sources of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. As with bacteria and enzymes found in yogurt, they are known to support proper digestion, aid in nutrient absorption, and to contribute to healthy metabolic function. The bacteria serve an important antibiotic role as well, inhibiting growth of coliform bacteria and other harmful microbes in the intestinal system. Pickles help body assimilate proteins and iron, and stimulate cell metabolism.
Steamed or fried vegetable and meat dumplings popularly known as Momo in Nepali, constitutes about 80% of the total lunch and snacks served in Kathmandu! Hop into any small to big restaurants in Nepal, you will find Momo as the first hot selling item on the menu. This momo is famous in city areas where chicken and buffalo meat are cheap and available at large. Buy ready made dumplings from supermarket and taste them today, or to prepare yourself at home visit the web links below. Momo goes well with a side dish of a Tomato achar!