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Nepal lunch Lunch at the Gyawali household in Bhairavsthan village, Nepal. Photo by Russell Powell, courtesy of Heifer International.

You can find many different kinds of food in Nepal depending on the region, but Dal (lentil soup), Bhat (steamed rice) and Tarkari (curried vegetables) are popular everywhere, and is often accompanied by aachar (pickles). Curried meat is also popular, but meat is expensive so most save it for special occasions. As you head farther north, Tibetan influences become more obvious momos (steamed or fried dumplings stuffed with meat) are common. The further south you go, the more Indian influences you'll notice. Interestingly, most Nepalese use no silverware, just their right hand to eat.

Take your mind and stomach to Nepal today with this simple Dal recipe.

Simple Dal Recipe

Recipe adapted from

1 cup red lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
3 cups water
1 large tomato, cut into 8 wedges (or 8 oz. diced canned tomato)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion (yellow or red), finely chopped
5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cups minced cilantro leaves (optional – you can also substitute parsley)

Baugha Gumba Village, Palpa District, Nepal Lunch is prepared in Baugha Gumba Village, Nepal. Photo by Russell Powell, courtesy of Heifer International.

Place lentils, tomato (if using fresh tomato) and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until lentils are tender and have lost their shape, about 40 minutes (begin checking that there is still water in the pot at 30 minutes and add small batches of water as needed).
Pick out any tomato skins and whisk dal to emulsify it. Keep warm over low heat.

Make the tadka (Indian spice preparation) as follows:

      Heat oil in a medium skillet over high heat.
      When oil begins to smoke, add cumin seeds.
      After seeds have stopped sputtering, add the garlic and onion and saute over medium heat until most of the onion has turned dark brown, 5-10 minutes.
      Add the coriander, turmeric and cayenne, stir, and pour the onion/spice mixture over the dal.

Add the butter, tomato (if using canned), cilantro/parsley, and salt to the dal and
simmer for another 5 minutes.
Serve hot.

Do you have an international recipe you love? Share it in the comments section below.


Linda Meyers

Linda Meyers, an Arkansas transplant originally from St. Louis, Mo., started working at Heifer International in 2011. She enjoys dragging her three children on nature hikes and snapping photos of them and everything around her. She has a bachelor’s degree in English has been “in the process” of writing the great American novel for 24 years.