• Hungry Pumpkin

Dal bhat - a jump to the East.

Dal bhat is a traditional dish of the Indian subcontinent that is popular in Nepal, Bangladesh, and India. It is named after its main ingredients; Dal meaning lentils and bhat meaning cooked rice. The dish consists of lentil soup and rice cooked in water, and is often served with stewed vegetables called tarkari and garnishes such as pickles or peppers. In Nepal, at altitudes above 2000 m where rice struggles to grow, maize, buckwheat, barley, or millet are used instead. Bhat can also be supplemented with unleavened bread called roti.

All this is often served on a large metal plate, on which they place a bowl for the lentil soup. All the dishes are consumed at the same time, so the lentil soup is not even a soup in our sense, but serves more as a sauce. In Nepal and some parts of India, many people enjoy dal bhat three times a day, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is especially true of mountain guides; in mountain lodges and countryside restaurants, it is the custom of the chef to come to the dining room with a pot of lentil soup, rice, and vegetables and offer guests extra servings. This "all you can eat" principle applies only to dal bhat and not to other dishes on the menu.

To ensure that people do not tire of their regular consumption, these dishes provide various spices and variations in the types of vegetables used. Each cook prepares lentil soup a little differently, with vegetables such as garlic, onion, ginger, tomato, and tamarind being used while from the spices we see coriander, cumin, turmeric, fennel, cloves, chilli, and many others employed. Stewed vegetables most often contain various types of sprouts, spinach, chard, cabbage, and other often leafy vegetables.

Recipe, preparation, and cost

For the dal or lentil soup, the lentils were soaked in water in the morning and then garlic and spices were added to it and cooked to form a fairly thick soup or sauce. We just seasoned with a purchased spice mix called masala. For bhat or boiled rice, we simply cooked rice in salted water, and spent a little more time on tarkari, where we cooked sweet potatoes first with olive oil, added kale, and then simmered with a little water for about 10 minutes. Before the end, we added a large spoonful of peanut butter to give the sauce a creamy texture and rich taste. We used mainly cumin, turmeric, and red pepper powder.

When serving, we added avocado because we had to use it up, and ate pepper in addition to it.

The approximate price for this lunch for 4 people is just under € 3.5, which comes to around € 0.85 per person! Though the lunch is very affordable, you still find yourself enjoying a variety of foods. So next time when you come home hungry, we definitely recommend something like this, especially since it is quick to prepare, you can eat a lot, and everything is healthy!

Nutritional value

A dish such as dal bhat is not only delicious and easy to prepare, but also quite nutritious. This meal contributes 25% of our daily energy needs and contains a lot of protein (as much as 33%), about 50% dietary fibre, and almost enough of all vitamins and minerals. The dish is rich in iron, which we got from the lentils, sprouts, and rice for more than 60% of our daily needs. We consumed a bit too little calcium, so we should make sure to consume enough calcium-rich foods such as arugula, spinach, beans, or chia seeds in our other meals. The latter also offer a lot of selenium, which in cold and stressful days is even more important for the immune system. As always with vegan eating, our lunch did not contain Vitamin D or Vitamin B12.

Have a great weekend!

-The Hungry Pumpkin Team