The Daal Bhaat affliction
Ask a hill native living predominantly on fast and instant food, “What do you crave?” Tato bhaat, kalo daal ,alu tareko and golbheda ko twaakaa pareko achar, (translation: Steaming rice, black lentil , fried potatoes, jhaneko saag and tomato pickle) has to be the answer at least 90% of the time. What is so special you may ask, let me reply in paragraphs in attempt to tantalize your taste buds, revoke memories from good old no processed food days and definitely answer our query.
Rice is the staple diet of people in Nepal. According to data collected in 2014, the total rice consumption in Nepal in a year is 3.72 million tones. The Himalayan region where rice farming isn’t possible the carb is replaced by Maize (makai), buckwheat (fapar), barley (jau), or millet (kodo) become porridge-like (dhido or ato).
Potatoes are another important staple crop and food.
The Khas and thakali cuisine
Dal-bhat-tarkari is the standard meal eaten twice daily traditionally by the Khas people
Thakali cuisine—transitional between Himalayan and lowland cuisines—is eaten by Thakali people living in Thak-Khola Valley, an ancient and relatively easy trade route through the high Himalaya.
This popular cuisine is now celebrated and enjoyed across Nepal and other places Nepali people have immigrated to.
Like any Nepali diet, the star of the dish is the Carb, be it rice or dhido (buckwheat),traditional methods are used to plant an astounding variety of rice including Gudgude Marsi, Thauli, Mansara, Anadi, Rajbhog, Krishna bhog, Samundra Pheenz, Phalame.
There are four main Nepali rice found in Kathmandu: Mansuli, Pokhreli, Jeera Maseeno and several varieties of Basmati. The most popular is Mansuli which is cheaper with higher yields. Pokhreli and Jeera Maseeno are more popular among the middle- and higher-middle class, while Basmati varies according to quality.
Dhindo is traditionally prepared from buckwheat or millet but wheat, corn flour is common as well. Just ground the flour and add water.
Nutrition: White rice is about 90 percent carbohydrate, 8 percent protein and 2 percent fat. White rice is a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, iron, folic acid, thiamine and niacin.
Trivia – The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines preserves 1,800 local Nepali rice germ plasm in a refrigerated earthquake-proof vault. The gene bank includes the rich Tilki from Dang and the aromatic Jetho Budo from Pokhara.
The Lentil Affair
Nepali people consume a variety of lentils. An excellent source of protein for vegetarians and it’s the best thing to happen to rice.100 gram amount, cooked (boiled) dal contains 9% protein, 70% water, 20% carbohydrates (includes 8% fiber), and 1% ,20% of the B vitamin, folate , and manganese, with moderate amounts of thiamine and several dietary minerals, such as iron and phosphorus.
Maas Ko Daal, or black gram beans, need little introduction in Nepali cuisine. They are among the most loved type of lentil of thakali and khas cuisine. Made in iron pot, the pot gives it the black color, the taste and adds iron to the lentil. The daal is then given the makeover with clarified butter (ghee) and spices like Jimbu (Himalayan herb) asafetida and garlic to give it the distinct taste and smell what tickles ones senses and palate.
Seasonal vegetables are preferred since they taste the best. Be it cauliflower, and green leafy vegetables. The greens are sautéed in sesame oil with red chilies and again garlic and are eaten while it’s still crispy.
But nothing holds torch to the beloved potatoes. Fried with assortment of spices, Mustang alu (potatoes) are the go to dishes for snacks as well with rice.
The non-vegetarians have choicest options from chicken, mutton, fish and chyangra. These are usually prepared as curries and taste heavenly with the rice because of the mixture of spices and ingredients like onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, jeera masala, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin seed and turmeric.
The spicy condiments
Burnt ripe tomatoes with chili are mixed with timmur (red pepper) salt and garlic and mixed using Khal (mortar and pestle) produces the best kind of chutney or achar as they call in Nepali. This goes with everything from rice to chapatis to even spaghettis for those who can handle spicy food.
Another variety of achar has to be mula ko achar. Raddish pickle, Fresh or preserved naturally, they aid in digestion as well as are a treat to the taste buds.
After the variety of spicy and somewhat rich food ingestion, Nepali people tend to sooth the tummy with ingestion of mohi (Buttermilk) or just yogurt. They are nutritious packed with vitamin B12 and vitamin D, calcium and protein.
Together this nutrition and taste packed meal serves to satisfy hunger, daily sustenance is ambrosial and delectable. Enjoy the flavorsome food and awaken your gustatory senses at Jimbu Thakali.