You’ve probably heard the saying “there’s nothing better than home cooked food”, and if there’s one thing Nepal made me appreciate, it would be just that. When I first arrived in Nepal we stayed at a hotel in Kathmandu where I first encountered the Nepalese traditional dish Dal Bhat … My first experience with the food was not good: I was missing home, I was hungry and just wanted to scoff a cooked breakfast or pizza and chips. I wasn’t feeling the food whatsoever and I kept asking what I had gotten myself into. The thought of eating Dal Bhat twice a day every day for the next 12 weeks horrified me.
We then made our way to a second hotel in Behisahar. On the way we stopped at a lovely restaurant where we again, had Dal Bhat. We arrived at the hotel and the food here was a little better and I did eat it for the first two days. By the third day I was just so fed up and was hoping my host families food would be better and that I would get used to the repetition of food. To my luck, aunty and uncle were such good cooks. Being in a completely new environment with nothing familiar to me apart from some family photographs and a blanket, eating was my first and best source of comfort.
Living with my host family, I noticed how much time and effort went in to cooking for the family every day. I saw that even though they would eat practically the same thing twice a day every day, they still loved and appreciated so much. I asked a few people ‘what is your favourite food?’ to which they all replied Dal Bhat – yes I guess they may not have tried many other things but the fact that they still loved it so much made me question the way I view food in the UK. We have hundreds of choices here when it comes to food. Speaking for myself I would often pick the easy option of eating out or ordering something instead of cooking at home. I would rarely take into consideration what produce was being used and how it might affect the environment or my body. I’d eat so many munchie foods and processed things without even thinking of it as a treat or something special. Whereas in Nepal, food is truly appreciated. Their basic traditional dish that they have every day was still loved, and if they were to have something different like a cookie or even chicken it brightened up their day. I know living in the UK is very different so cookies and chicken is normal to us but my point is we go day to day without realising how lucky we are to have these choices.
The fact that a lot of us don’t think twice about the choices we make when it comes to food has many bad consequences. It is thought that ‘half of Britons will be obese by 2045’ according to The Telegraph. As well as causing many people to be overweight, it’s thought there is a ‘link between highly processed foods and cancer’ as reported by BBC News. Our day to day lives are very different to the lives of somebody living in rural Nepal, but I believe there are some things we could take from them to create a healthier lifestyle in the UK. For example, trying to grow our own vegetables or picking up ‘veg boxes’ every week, collecting eggs from somebody locally or only eating free range eggs and for meat eaters only eating meat once or twice a week. We would often just pick fruit from the trees and eat as snacks between meals so I also think snacking on fruits can make a difference to your body.
Aunty’s food became one of the things keeping me going in Nepal. I would always look forward to breakfast and dinner time. So much care went into making the food and whether aunty/uncle/Samikshya or Manish was cooking, they would always make sure we were enjoying and that we had enough. Living there inspired me to get cooking more of a variety of things at home and to recreate Nepalese dishes. I would always help with the cooking and watch Aunty make food so I learnt how to make most things.
On Thursday, I tried to recreate Dal Bhat and some sides and it was amazing. It took me back to Nepal and I felt like I was at home with my other family once again.
Here is how I made this meal for anybody else who would like to try.
- White rice
- Tinned potatoes or normal potatoes
- Green chilli
- Red Kidney Beans
- Ground turmeric
- Ground ginger
- Coconut oil
- Chop pumpkin into small cubes and place in hot pan/wok with 3 tbs of coconut oil, spoon full of turmeric and a spoon full of ginger, leave of medium heat.
- Boil lentils in water for 10 mins, then leave to cool for 20.
- While lentils are cooking, chop spinach, kale and a garlic clove into small pieces ready to use for the dal.
- The pumpkin should be going softer now, so add the kidney beans and some salt, then leave on a low heat. Also chop a garlic clove and add to the pumpkin and kidney beans.
- Put tomato, garlic, coriander and green chilli into a bowl and crush until it turns to a paste – this will be the pickle for the bread. The pickle is also really nice mixed with the dal and rice.
- Place the spinach, kale, garlic and a whole chilli into a pan with the lentils, fill with water and leave to boil.
- Create a dough by mixing flour and water together.
- Boil rice in 6x as much water than rice. Boil for around 10 mins.
- Place chopped potatoes in a pan with oregano, turmeric and garlic powder. Fry for around 10 mins until golden brown.
- Split the dough into small balls and roll them out flat.
- Heat the griddle to a high heat, spray with some oil and place the dough on there. Cook each side until golden brown and repeat until all the dough has been used.
- Chop green chilli, onions and tomatoes and wix in a bowl, pour into a pan to make an omelette.
- You should allow the dal (lentil soup) to boil 3/4 times and then simmer until served.
- Leave rice to cool and dish up the omelette, potatoes and pumpkin.
- Add rice to the dish and pour the lentil soup over the rice.
- You may have the bread and pickle as a starter before the meal or eat with the meal. We always use to squirt a lime over the food which compliments it a lot.
I’m no chef so there may be better ways to cook this but it turned out amazing and I’ll defo be making it again.
Head over to my Youtube channel to see a full tutorial of how to make this dish – The link is on my House21 profile.
Thank you guys, remember to look after your body and make good choices about the things you buy and eat !!! xxxxxx