First of all, hello you! How have you been doing? I can’t believe we’re already a week into February.. Is it just me..? Where did January go???! This means Porridge & Pillao has been officially online a month already. A month and a week. Wow. That went fast. Hope everyone is still on board! I definitely am.

Today’s recipe isn’t just a recipe, it is a recipe which has a special place in my heart. In this post I will be teaching you how to cook my take on traditional dal bhat, which reminds me of my time growing up in my beloved Nepal. First, before heading on to the recipe, I’d like to give you some information on what dal bhat actually is.

Dal bhat is a dish frequently eaten in many areas of Nepal, but also Bangladesh and India are acquainted with this staple food. Even though today’s recipe will feature a red lentil dal, also called Masoor Dal, many different types can be distinguished. In addition to masoor, Nepalese cuisine also has yellow, green and black dal, all with their own unique flavour. Frequently, coriander, cumin and turmeric are used to spice up these dal types. Although “dal”, meaning stewed lentils, can be eaten on its own as a soup, it is usually eaten together with “bhat”, which refers to boiled or steamed rice. Together, dal and bhat form a cheap, satisfying and above all, nutritious meal. Yes. Dal bhat is literally powerfood. Have you ever done a trek in the Himalayas? If so, you’ve probably noticed that the population in the mountain areas are very quick on their feet. You’ve probably also seen men, women, and even children carrying heavy baskets filled with wood or other goods on their heads. I’m telling ya. Dal bhat is what’s fuelling them.

With that being said, there isn’t a dish I am as fond of as I am of dal bhat. Although traditional dal is already finger licking good, I’ve adapted this dish and made it into my own. I’ve added some sweet potato and carrot for some extra health benefits (and just because it is damn good this way!). And I swapped white rice for brown rice combined with amaranth. So here it goes, my take on traditional dal bhat. Read, and learn. And don’t forget to tell me if you’ve tried this recipe too!

Ingredients
(serves 4)

• 2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
• 1 cup / 200 grams of red lentils, rinsed very well (and soaked overnight, if possible)
• 750 ml of water
• 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
• 2 red onions, roughly chopped
• 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
• 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger, about 2.5 cm
• 3 tablespoons of curry powder (add up to 1 tablespoon more to taste)
• 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika powder (optional, but delicious!)
• 4 large tomatoes, chopped (sometimes I use cherry tomatoes equivalent in weight of the large tomatoes)
• 1 large sweet potato, roughly chopped
• 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
• 1 bunch of fresh coriander
• Sea salt to taste
• Black pepper to taste

Serve with:
• 200 grams / 1 cup of brown rice (or any type of rice you like)
• 50 grams/ ¼ cup of amaranth (Optional. If not used, increase amount of rice)

Toppings:
• Chopped coriander
• Squeeze of fresh lemon or lime

Instructions

1. Prepare your rice. Take into consideration that brown rice and amaranth usually require a slightly longer cooking time than white rice. To cook: place the rice and amaranth in a pot, add water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Cook for 30 minutes until the water has disappeared and your rice is soft.
2. Heat the oil in a medium pot, add the onions, garlic and ginger, and sauté for five minutes until soft. Add curry and paprika powder (if using) and stir until fragrant.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, sweet potato, carrot and lentils and stir until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the lentils have fallen apart and the vegetables have turned soft. Add sea salt (don’t be shy with the salt!) and black pepper.
4. Using a hand blender, blend the largest parts in the dal (completely optional, this step can be skipped!). Don’t blend to long and too much, as you still want to have chunks of sweet potato & carrot in your dal.
5. Add chopped coriander, stir & taste. Now you can add more salt, or spices, if needed.
6. Serve hot with rice, garnished with coriander. For lemon lovers: a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime can be added!