Dal bhat is the national dish of Nepal, and it is also eaten in northern India. Dal refers to legumes, and also the soup made from the legumes. Bhat refers to cooked rice (same as fan in Chinese, bap in Korean, and gohan in Japanese). Dal bhat is the name for legume soup served with rice. This is a basic meal, but very delicious! I think it is the ghee that gives such a wonderful flavor 🙂
Dal is often translated as lentils, but dal also refers to beans, peas, etc., not just lentils. For this recipe, I use red lentils, known as masoor dal, to make the dal soup. Red lentils cook quite quickly and are very tasty.
Adapted from YoWangdu, a great source for Tibetan recipes. (Tibetan people who live in Nepal or India also eat dal bhat very often!)
Cook plain basmati rice (or other rice if you prefer) in a pot or rice cooker while you prepare the dal.
How to Make the Dal
1 cup (split and peeled) red lentils (masoor dal), washed and drained in a bowl
1 slightly heaping tbsp ghee (measured when not melted, it seems to expand when melted)
heaping 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
heaping 1/2 tsp whole black mustard seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely minced garlic (~3 large cloves)
1 tbsp finely minced ginger
heaping 1/2 tsp salt
heaping 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
heaping 1/2 tsp coriander powder
heaping 1/2 tsp Indian red chili powder (Use Kashmiri red chili powder for non-spicy dal; it gives red color. You can also skip, but it won’t be as red.)
heaping 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tomato, finely chopped or blended in food processor (I used 1/2 of a 14 oz can tomato, blended in food processor.)
water (I used about 3-4 cups)
1 tbsp butter
finely chopped cilantro or green onion for garnish
1. Heat a pan. Add ghee.
2. Add cumin and black mustard seeds. Cook 5 seconds on medium-high heat.
3. Add garlic, ginger, and onion. Stir well. Cook, stirring once a while, until onion is translucent and lightly browned.
4. Lower heat to medium and add salt and spices (all ingredients between ginger and tomato). Stir well to combine for a minute.
5. Add tomato and stir. Cook a few minutes until reduced.
6. Add lentils and combine well.
7. Add water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
8. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes.
9. Uncover and stir.
10. Add butter and cilantro or green onion. Stir until butter is melted and evenly distributed. Turn off the heat.
11. Serve the dal in a bowl. I like to serve rice in a bowl too, but you can also serve on a plate. Optionally, serve with a little yogurt and Indian pickled vegetables (achar). This is often served with a vegetable curry called tarkari, but I like to eat just dal and rice too. Dal is high in fiber and nutrients. To serve, Indian people and Nepali people like to spoon dal on the rice and then eat with hands. However, I prefer to eat with a spoon. It is your choice. 🙂
Enjoy! This is really delicious, and I never imagined that “bland” lentils could taste so good! Butter and ghee enhance the flavors and the spices add great dimension of flavor. I love it!