December 4, 2023

Nepalese cuisine – gives you energy: traditional Nepalese dish “dal bhat” – SRF Radio 1


Nepalese like to say about their favorite dish: “Daal Bhat Power – 24 Hour”. In other words: it should fill you up for an entire day. It’s definitely delicious.

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner: the traditional Nepalese dish ‘Dal Bhat’ is available almost always and everywhere. The main ingredients are lentils (“dal”) and rice (“bhaat”).

Arrange the rice in the middle of a copper plate, with side dishes arranged around it and in additional small bowls.

Side dishes often consist of curries, fried vegetables, potatoes (“aloo”), various pastes and sauces (“achar”) as well as yoghurt and, depending on the case, additional fish or meat.

State of Nepal

Nepalese cuisine

However, side dishes can vary greatly. There are various reasons for this: First, climate and soil conditions vary greatly depending on the region – from tropical to mountainous. In addition, people from more than 100 different ethnic groups live in Nepal box together. This is why Nepali cuisine is strongly influenced by the influences of different cultures and religions.

Interview with Prashanta Khanal

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Nepalese writer Prashanta Khanal with his book “Timur”.

Prashanta Khanal

Prashanta Khanal writes about the culinary history and culture of Nepal. His cookbook “Timur” was released in 2022.

SRF: How many hours do Nepalis spend in the kitchen daily?

Prashanta Khanal: Dal Bhat takes an hour and a half. This means: a lot of hours! In our culture, cooking means hospitality, gratitude and respect for guests. This is how we show how much we love someone.

How did the national dish “dal bhat” come about?

This dish was previously only available in the south of the country and in isolated communities. Only the “rich” can afford rice because it cannot be grown everywhere because it requires a lot of water to grow it. The poor were more likely to eat local foods such as buckwheat. Since purchasing rice has become easy and cheap, ‘dal bhat’ has spread significantly.

Dal Bhat is eaten almost every day. Doesn’t it ever get boring?

The interesting thing is that it never tastes the same. There are many factors that come into play when it comes to the taste of lentils or curry. We also cook very seasonally. In the monsoon season we use mushrooms, and now squash, beans or cauliflower. The amount of seasoning, as well as the length of time it is cooked, allows the taste to vary greatly, and of course as chefs ourselves, the dish ultimately tells us who we are and where we come from.

The interview was conducted by Olivia Gaweiler.

In southern Nepal, mangoes and tangerines are harvested and cows are considered sacred – true of Hinduism. On the terraces in the northern regions of the Jurung and Magar peoples, maize, buckwheat and amaranth are grown. In the Kathmandu Valley, the political and cultural center of Nepal, there are Newari dishes such as chatamari, a rice omelet, and more unusual dishes such as bone marrow, stuffed lungs or liver.

In the northwest, in the Sherpa and Tamang regions, Tibetan influence can be felt: stuffed and steamed dumplings, called momos, are a highlight.

Spices of Nepal

In order to be able to cook Nepali dishes, you need a good spice rack. Its most important ingredients are garlic, hot pepper and ginger. As a result, many dishes are relatively spicy. Cumin, turmeric, coriander and fenugreek are often cooked. Mustard oil or ghee, i.e. clarified butter, is often used as a fat base.

More top Nepali foods

The Nepalese specialty is ‘Timur’. Although the appearance and spiciness are reminiscent of pepper, oregano is not a pepper plant, but a citrus plant – like Sichuan pepper.

Timur’s unique citrus and peppery flavor perfectly represents the complexity of Nepalese cuisine.

The spice is correspondingly acidic and causes a slightly numb feeling on the tongue. When used with caution in a dish, it represents an exceptional taste experience.

Timur – Similar to pepper, but is a citrus plant often used in cooking in Nepal.


Timur – Similar to pepper, but is a citrus plant often used in cooking in Nepal.

Olivia Gaweiler

Olivia Gaweiler

Olivia Gaweiler

Culinary Editor SRF1

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Olivia Gaweiler is the Wild Herb Witch of the editorial team. A trained wild herbalist, she takes listeners into the wild world of edible plants on SRF 1’s “A Point” program or reports on seasonal and regional foods that can easily be transformed into delicious dishes.

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