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A Taste of the Himalayas

After a jaunt through the Berkeley Rose Garden, we headed back to the Gourmet Ghetto for lunch; it was Pia and Dylan’s first time having Nepalese and they both loved it. The flavors of Nepalese food seem more understated than Indian. Subtle and less saucy.

We started with momos (steamed dumplings) and tasted different curries and pickled vegetables, but I think that the hit of the feast was the Dal Bhat (lentils and rice). Dal Bhat is a Nepalese staple, typically eaten twice a day. So, of course, that’s what I’ve replicated in my own kitchen. I came across this recipe online and have made it a couple of times. I love that this dish provides a complete protein for an easy, nutritious meal. And we think the combinations of tastes – the tamarind and ginger – are dynamite together.

3 cups of water
1 cup red lentils
1 Tbs. peeled minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. seeded, chopped fresh green chili
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tamarind concentrate
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/4 black mustard seed
1/2 five-spice

Bring water to boil in pan over medium heat. Add lentils. Reduce heat and simmer covered until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes. They should break easily when pressed between thumbs and index fingers. Remove from heat.

Puree this mixture with ginger and green chili in blender until smooth. Return to pan and bring to simmer. Add salt, sugar, and tamarind and stir to dissolve the tamarind. Remove from heat.
Heat oil in a 6-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Fry black mustard seeds for a few seconds. As soon as the seeds start popping remove from heat and pour contents of pan over the lentil mixtures. Simmer 2 to 3 more minutes. Stir in five spice. Cover and let stand for a few minutes to help develop the flavors. Garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro and serve with boiled rice.

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