Nepali/Nepalese cuisine comprises a variety of cuisines based upon ethnicity, soil and climate relating to Nepal’s cultural diversity and geography. Nepali cuisine is available all around the country with a regional twist. Popularly known as Nepali Thali, it is served on a brass plate and bowls with an assortment of foods. It is the staple food of the Nepal consisting of rice, lentil, and vegetable with homemade Achar (spicy pickle) which is usually fermented. The Nepali Thali consists of Dal Bhat Tarkari with the choice of meat (chicken, mutton, fish).
Dal-bhat-tarkari is eaten throughout Nepal. Dal is a soup made of lentils and spices, served over boiled grain, bhat—usually rice but sometimes another and vegetable curry, tarkari. Condiments are usually small amounts of spicy pickle which can be fresh or fermented, and of which there are a considerable number of varieties. Other accompaniments may be sliced lemon or lime with fresh green chilli.
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (186g) of cooked white rice prepared without salt or fat.
- Calories: 242
- Fat: 0.4g
- Sodium: 0mg
- Carbohydrates: 53.2g
- Fiber: 0.6g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 4.4g
Cooked (boiled) dal contains 9% protein, 70% water, 20% carbohydrates (includes 8% fiber), and 1% fat. It also supplies a rich content (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of the B vitamin, folate (45% DV) and manganese (25% DV), with moderate amounts of thiamine (11% DV) and several dietary minerals, such as iron (19% DV) and phosphorus (18% DV).
Dal-bhat is a pretty wholesome meal as long as we include 1-2 vegetables as a side dish. A lot of times dal-bhat gets a bad reputation for being “too carb heavy” but that has to do with portion size rather than the meal itself. A well-rounded plate should be filled half with vegetables, preferably sautéed and steamed, ¼ of the plate should include lean protein such as dal or chicken or goat curry, and the remaining ¼ should have carbohydrates like rice.
Over the years, there has been a great increase in the consumption of meat and fewer vegetables but if we are able to make that shift towards eating more vegetables, it will greatly enhance the nutritional value of dal-bhat. In general, bhat (rice) is a great source of carbohydrate, which our body needs for energy while dal (lentil) provides the protein, fibre, and lots of vitamins and minerals.
Dal is one of the most inexpensive sources of protein especially for anyone looking to eat on a budget or wants to incorporate more plant-based protein into their diet. Vegetables, both leafy greens and non-leafy ones are lower in calories and are a good source of fibre, which helps us keep full longer, keeps our digestion regular, and lowers cholesterol. Achar (pickles) is a great condiment as it adds a nice savoury-sweet flavour to the meal and fermented pickles are good for digestion due to the presence of gut-friendly bacteria.