Nepalese Dal Bhat: A Cracking Good Food Session

Nepalese Dal Bhat

The shocking news of the devastation caused by the earthquake on 25th April 2015 in Nepal that has seen the lives of 2000 people lost is beyond my comprehension. Just reading the stories and seeing the images on line is shocking enough, and my heart goes out to those affected. If you are able to contribute any financial support, please donate to your local Red Cross society who have set up an emergency appeal to support survivors and their families.

Nepal Earthquake Appeal

Nepal Earthquake Appeal

It is at times like these that I am reminded of my good fortune in life. To be able to live in a stable country better equiped to deal with devastating natural disasters. Although I am in Myanmar, far away from the country of Nepal, I have received numerous messages from my friends and family concerned of my welfare and worrying how I am getting on in this new country.

Dal Bhat

This post should have been written a couple of months ago, but as life got busy it got pushed further down the list of priorities. However it seems like its the right time to share these recipes now. Even though Nepal is in the midst of mass devastation there will be people who will be trying to get some normality in their lives, preparing Dal Bhat as their staple meal twice a day.

Cracking Good Food Nepalese Dal Bhat Cooking Class

Dal is an aromatic lentil soup that adds flavour to plain rice (bhat) and provides a great base for your curries. The recipes are courtesy of Momo Cooking who run fun and friendly workshop style cooking classes teaching everything you need to know about home cooked Nepalese food. As well as running their own cooking classes and catering business, they also run classes for Cracking Good Food to spread the word of great Nepalese cuisine!

Momo Cooking

Momo Cooking

Dal Bhat is the reknowned Nepali dish and a staple in the rice-cultivating regions. It generally consists of dal (lentils), baht (rice), a vegetable curry / saag, and a chutney. It is usually eaten by mixing the dal with the rice to form a soupy mixture, making a ball of the mixture with your hands, and adding curry and chutney. Hense why this post consists of three recipes! (All recipes are taken directly from Momo Cooking)

Cracking Food Good Dal Bhat cooking class

Dal

Ingredients (10 servings)

  • 200g Red lentils
  • 200g Black lentils (urid dal)
  • 2 1/2 litres water
  • 2 tsp oil
  • Fresh coriander to garnish

Spices:

  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tsp curry powder

Method

  • Rinse and drain your lentils until the water is clear
  • Add all of the water, spices and oil
  • Cover the pan and bring contents to boil. Once boiling, leave covered and simmer for around 90 minutes until the dal has reduced down and thickened into a creamy soup.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander and serve.

* Tip: To save time when cooking dal, make up a large batch and then divide and freeze individual portions. Take out and re-heat until bubbling as and when you need it. Make sure to taste your reheated dal before serving as it may need reseasoning.

Dal Bhat

Garlic Saag

Ingredients (6 servings)

  • 250g fresh spinach leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 1/2 tbsp oil

Method

  • Heat oil in a pan and fry garlic until just starting to brown.
  • Add spinach, sprinkle with salt and stir fry until the spinach has wilted down.
  • Take off the heat and serve.

*Tip: Try replacing the spinach for seasonal greens such as kale or spring greens, and add a bit of heat by throwing in a bit of chopped fresh chilli.

Tomato Achaar

Tomato Achaar

Tomato Achaar

Served as a classic accompaniment to dal bhat, or with crispy papadums as a tasty snack in its own right Ingredients (6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soya beans
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh chilli, thinly sliced
  • 200 ml water
  • 1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Spices:

  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1tsp meat masala
  • 1tsp coriander powder
  • 1tsp garam masala
  • 1tsp mild curry powder

*Tip: If it’s hard for you to get hold of soya beans, you can replace them with fresh garden peas instead. Skip step 1 and 2 in the method, and add the peas in step 8, in place of the cooked soya beans. Remove from the heat once the peas are cooked.

Method

  • Heat the soya beans in a dry pan for about 5 minutes.
  • Move the beans around the pan regularly to ensure that they cook evenly on every side. You will know the beans are cooked when you hear small popping sounds, see small brown dots appear on the beans and you get a nutty smell coming from the pan.
  • Take beans off the heat and set aside until later.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a high sided pan, add the onions and fry until starting to brown.
  • Add turmeric and stir.
  • Add tomatoes, garlic and chilli and stir in until everything is coated with oil and turmeric.
  • Sprinkle the salt and the rest of the spices evenly across the tomatoes, add the water and stir everything through so that the spices are mixed into the curry.
  • Cover pan, bring up to a boil.
  • As tomatoes soften, use the back of a spoon to mash them together. Slowly add more water if the tomatoes seem to be drying out and catching on the pan.
  • Once all of the tomatoes have softened, add the cooked soya beans and stir through.
  • Leave on the heat for about another minute, stirring and adding splashes of water if needed.
  • Remove from the heat, garnish with fresh coriander and serve.

I’ve not included a curry recipe in this post as it’s getting far too long! Add your favouite vegetable and/or meat dishes to this for a completely satisfying meal… Enjoy! 😀

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Duck Egg Curry

Myanmar (Burmese) Duck Egg Curry

Myanmar Duck Egg Curry

Egg curry is a new idea for me, and it really surprised me that I hadn’t considered it before! I tend to bake more than I cook so always have eggs in the house. But often the eggs go passed their best as I struggle to use them up. The main reason I don’t do much cooking is because I don’t like to cook unless there is someone else to cook for. These days my partner is living away as he has gone to university as a mature student, so I find myself having dinner at my sister’s or my mum’s house. Cooking for one can be pretty dull since I tend to stick to a few one-pot recipes.

This Duck Egg Curry I tried for the first time on a recent trip to Myanmar has become my new ‘one pot curry’ recipe! It’s also a tasty way to use up all those left over eggs without having to break out the butter and sugar to bake a cheeky cake… Best served with fresh boiled rice and some stir fried greens!

This dish is commonly found in Myanmar and is a very popular lunch time meal as it is very cheap to make as well as being a quick meal to cook in the morning. I was only in Myanmar for a couple of weeks but learnt that there is still very much a culture of shopping in local wet-markets first thing in the morning. There are more supermarkets popping up in the cities but not many people have refrigerators and electricity is temperamental so it still isn’t practical to stockpile perishable foods.

There are very few ingredients in Duck Egg Curry so can be made from store-cupboard  ingredients if there is no time to visit the market in the morning before the working day starts. In Myanmar it is still the norm that women in the household do the shopping and cooking. As wages are low, it is common to see workers carrying metal tiffin lunch boxes to work in the morning, usually a layer of rice, some curry and some stir fried vegetables. When my colleagues brought out their lunches, I was always excited to see what they had prepared that day. It was so much more exciting than the standard English lunch of sandwiches!

Myanmar Egg Curry

Myanmar Egg Curry

*Recipe courtesy of Harmoneat

Ingredients:

  • 6 Duck Eggs
  • 3 Tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Shrimp Paste (can fish sauce instead or omit for a vegetarian version)
  • Water
  • 2 tbs Vegetable Oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 Dried Red Chilli
  • 6 Inches Ginger Root, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 Shallots, peeled and roughly chopped

Method:

  • Soak the dried chilli in some warm water for 10 minutes to soften
  • Boil the duck eggs for 5 minutes until hard boiled, once boiled peel the eggs and cut in half horizontally then set to one side
  • Make the curry paste by pounding the re-hydrated chilli, garlic, ginger and shallots in a pestle and mortar until you get a smooth paste (use a blender if you want to be are short on time)
  • In a deep sided frying pan (with a lid) stir fry the curry paste in the vegetable oil to release the fragrance of the spices, around 3 minutes
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, shrimp paste, and a cup of water. Stir to combine and make a thick curry sauce
  • Place all the egg halves face down into the sauce in one even layer and simmer for a few minutes, before turning all the eggs over so the yolks are facing upwards
  • If the sauce is very thick, add some more water before putting the lid on the pan and simmering for 10-15 minutes. Add salt for seasoning
Duck Egg Curry

Duck Egg Curry

I have cooked this recipe using chicken eggs as a substitute very successfully, as duck eggs are a bit harder to come by back home in the UK! This dish is pretty healthy as not a huge amount of oil is used and the eggs yolks bring richness to the curry. It still tastes great without the shrimp paste for vegetarians; I once forgot to add it! 😉

Red Curry Paste

Red Curry Paste

This red curry paste is a very simple recipe that forms the basis for ‘red’ curries in Myanmar. Make a big batch and keep a home made jar in the fridge sealed with a layer of oil for an fresh curry paste free from preservatives! 😀

For more recipes from Myanmar, check out Harmoneat’s website where you can find downloadable recipe cards. 😀

Coriander Paneer and Jeera Rice

Coriander Paneer and Jeera Rice

Coriander Paneer and Jeera Rice

This isn’t the first time I’ve made Dimple’s recipe for Coriander Paneer Curry but this time I’m trying it out with a SJ’s Jeera Rice.

Coriander Paneer

Coriander Paneer

The base sauce for this curry is so simple! All ingredients are blitzed in the blender and cooked through then the paneer then left to simmer and soak up the lovely spices. I added a little yoghurt as I was a little heavy handed with the chilli!

Cumin Rice

Cumin Rice

I  made this rice using the ‘absorption method’ as this is the way I learnt to cook rice. It results in the rice being a little more sticky but that’s the way I like it. The mild fragrance from the spices gives the rice a gorgeous flavour, enough to make you want to eat the rice just on it’s own! It’s my first time cooking rice in this way but I’ll definitely be doing it again!

Coriander Paneer with Jeera Rice

Coriander Paneer with Jeera Rice

I love learning how to cook from people who cook for their families. Home cooking tastes amazing, I think its the love that goes into it. The best thing about the world of blogging is learning how people cook traditional home made dishes so I know how to recreate them too! None of the ‘westernised’ and mass produced curries found in high street restaurants for me!

Thanks to my fellow bloggers for their inspiration and lessons learned, special thanks to Dimple from Shivaay Delights and SJ from Cooking with SJ too! My life (and that of my partner’s) is infinitely better for knowing you! 🙂

Paneer Curry with Chicken and Cashew Fried Rice

This is a quick post as it’s not my recipe!

Tonight I made a Paneer curry for the first time using a recipe from Dimple’s blog ‘shivaaydelights’. She posted it at just the right time as I had bought some Paneer at the supermarket when thinking of something different I could cook but I didn’t have a tried and tested recipe yet.

image

So tonight I made it and served it with some chicken and cashew nut fried rice. Dimple recommends to serve the dish with Naan bread but I had some left over rice to up. The crunch of the cashew nuts went well with the softness of the paneer. I will definately make this recipe again, the sauce was delicious and would go great with lots of other ingredients too!

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Chicken and Cashew Nut Fried Rice

I’ve only been blogging for three months now, but I’m really enjoying learning from fellow home cooks and sharing our experiences! 🙂

Thanks Dimple!