TOPICS: More ‘dal’ less ‘bhat’

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to visit Nepal. I don’t even know what initially piqued my interest, but I knew that one day I had to make the journey.

I recently quit my job, sold my home, bought a one way ticket to Asia, and here I am.

I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and I know nutritional deficiencies are widespread, not only in Nepal, but in other South East Asian countries, as well.

Prior to my arrival, I did a lot of research on the varied cuisines found in this country. As an RDN, I look at foods with an analytical eye. There are so many healthy components to the Nepali diet. Meals are made twice a day with local, fresh ingredients.

A variety of vegetables are served alongside the national dish- “Dal, Bhat, Tarkari.”

Not only are there a lot of healthy foods consumed here, the flavor is amazing! I’ve always loved Indian food, so I was excited to come to Nepal to learn about the similarities in the cuisine.

I love all the garlic, hot peppers, chili powder, turmeric, cumin, and coriander that are used.

But the list doesn’t end there. Fresh, warm ghee poured atop of fluffy white rice enhances flavor and adds texture, different lentils and beans mixed with various chutneys, pickled fruits and vegetables, and yogurt are some of my favorite snacks found in small cafes and with street vendors.

You can see my praise for the Nepali diet, but unfortunately, it has some downfalls as well. Most of the population consumes a high staple diet, mainly rice. Staples, especially white rice, fill us with calories, but often lack sufficient nutrients the body needs for optimal functioning.

While dal (lentils) are super nutritious and a good source of protein, they are typically served as a side, made into a soup, reducing the overall amount of actual lentils consumed. I always say, “More dal, less bhat!” Let’s switch the ratio. How about a pile of dal and a few spoonfuls of rice? That would significantly increase the nutrient profile of a meal.

What will you do to improve your “Dal Bhat Tarkari?” Try my simplified Nepali inspired “Dal Tarkari.” It’s simple, nutritious, and delicious.

It’s vegetarian, appropriate and even more vegetables can be added if you’d like! Nutrition is important. A healthy meal doesn’t have to be boring or bland.

Try some of these foods today and improve your health and well being!