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Nepalese Daal Bhat recipe

Nepalese Daal Bhat recipe

Daal Bhat is a staple food of Nepal. It’s eaten everywhere, usually twice a day.

“Daal” means lentils and “bhat” means rice.  A Nepalese Daal Bhat “set” is commonly served as a large plate filled with little pots of culinary prizes:

Sebastien enjoying a daal bhat set

Sebastien about to go face down in a delicious daal bhat set

These pots usually comprise:

  1. Daal: lentils soup
  2. Bhat: rice
  3. Tarkari: spicy vegetable curry (sometimes a meat curry is also included)
  4. Sabji: a mix of spicy vegetables cooked with curry flavours
  5. A spicy sauce
  6. Achar: pickled vegetables

In Kathmandu, we celebrated Stefan’s birthday with a cooking class at the excellent Nepalese Cooking School, with our friend Talib from London, who joined us.

The Nepalese Cooking School is run by Amrit and his really charming daughter, Eanu:

Our very charming teacher, Eanu

Our very charming teacher, Eanu, of the Nepalese Cooking School in Kathmandu

We highly recommend a course with these guys to everyone visiting Kathmandu.  The fact that they only have over 80 excellent reviews on Tripadvisor says it all!

This is the recipe for a complete vegetarian daal bhat set.

This recipe should be enough for x4 people:

Ingredients for a full daal bhat set

  • lentils around 500g
  • 500g of rice
  • 1 litre of water for cooking the lentils (it’s a 2:1 ratio of water to lentils)
  • 500ml of water for cooking the rice (it’s a 1:1 ratio of water to rice)
  • turmeric powder
  • cumin powder
  • fenugreek seeds
  • sichuan pepper
  • fresh coriander leaves
  • ginger
  • chilli
  • salt
  • vegetable oil for cooking
  • garlic
  • cauliflower (for the tarkari)
  • 1 potato (for the tarkari)
  • 2 onions (1 for the tarkari and 1 for the achar)
  • 2 tomatoes (1 for the tarkari and 1 for the spicy sauce accompaniment)
  • a bunch of fresh spinach (for the sabji)
  • cucumber (200g) (for the sabji)
  • 2 table spoons of sesame paste (for the sabji)
  • a bunch of fresh coriander leaves (for the sabji)
  • 1 piece of green chilli (for the sabji)
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric (for the sabji
  • A bowl of sour plums (if none, then use lemon juice) (for the sabji)
  • Half a spoon of Garam Masala sauce (for the sabji).  Garam Masala is a blend of various ground spices including turmeric, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds and cardamom.
  • you will also need a grinder to grind the spices together to create a paste, and a pressure cooker to cook the lentils.  Stefan took the liberty to demonstrate the grinder during class:
Stefan showing the grinder

Stefan showing the grinder we used as part of our cooking class

1. How to make the Daal (lentils soup)

  • Soak the lentils for 30 minutes to loosen up the starch then rinse the water out.
  • Place the lentils in a pressure cooker and add double the amount of water, in this case, 500g of lentils, use 1 litre of water.
  • Mix in a teaspoon of tumeric, pinch of salt and x2 tablespoons of oil then cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  • If you do not have a pressure cooker, in a pan, bring the water and lentils mixture to a boil (remove the top layer of starch that forms), then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for an hour.
  • When the soup is ready fry the garlic in oil till it browns, then mix it with the soup.

2. How to make the Bhat (rice)

  • Soak the rice for 30 mins to loosen up the starch then rinse the water out.
  • Place the rice in a pan and add the same qauntity of water, in this case, 500g of rice, use 500ml of water.
  • Bring the water to a boil then reduce heat, cover the pot and cook the rice for around 25 minutes.

3. How to make the tarkari (spicy vegetable curry of cauliflower and potatoes)

  • Chop the onion and cut up the cauliflower, potato and tomato.
  • Heat x2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and toast x2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds.
  • Add a chopped onion and saute it (cook on a low heat, covered until it browns)
  • Add the pieces of cauliflower and potato.
  • Mix in a teaspoon of tumeric.
  • Mix in x2 teaspoons of salt.
  • The salt will dry the vegetables out and release water, so let the mixture cook in this for 5 minutes on a high heat, uncovered.
  • Ground 1 teaspoon of cumin, half a bunch of coriander leaves, a tablespoon of garlic and 1 chilli together to create a paste, then add this mixture to the vegetables.
  • After around 30 minutes of cooking, add 1 chopped tomato, cover the pan and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Sebastien showing off the completed vegetable curry

Sebastien showing off the completed tarkari vegetable curry

Stefan making the tarkari vegetable curry

Stefan about to go face down in the freshly made tarkari vegetable curry

4. How to make the sabji (spicy vegetables – spinach)

  • Heat x2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and cook 2 cloves of chopped garlic and 1 chopped chilli until the garlic browns.
  • Add a bunch of chopped spinach and mix in x2 teaspoons of salt and x2 teaspoons of tumeric.
  • Cover and cook on a low heat for around 10 minutes.

5. How to make the spicy sauce

  • Boil a tomato.
  • Put x2 teaspoons of salt, x3 cloves, 1 chilli and 1 teaspoon of sichuan pepper in a grinder and grind it well to make a paste.
  • Add fresh coriander and grind that in with the paste.
  • Add the boiled tomato and grind this with the paste.

6. How to make the achar (pickled vegetables)

  • Slice the cucumber and remove and disregard the inside part, keep the outside green part only for use.
  • Boil the sour plums and disregard the skin:
Sebastien and Eanu peeling sour plums

Sebastien and our teacher, Eanu, peeling sour plums together


  • Put a bowl of sour fruit and cucumber in a plate and mix in 2 table spoons of sesame paste.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of sal, half a teaspoon of cumin powder and 2 teaspoons of garam masala.
  • Heat the oil in a pan and fry a tablespoon of fenugreek seeds until they turn black, then slowly put them in a separate plate with a teaspoon of turmeric and mix it all in until it becomes a yellowish colour.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve.
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Sebastien is the co-founder, editor and author of He is a tech geek, a total travel nerd and a food enthusiast. He spends the majority of his time planning Nomadic Boys' travels meticulously right down to the minute details. Sebastien has travelled to over 80 countries with his partner in crime and the love of his life, Stefan. He regularly shares his expertise of what it’s like travelling as a gay couple both on Nomadic Boys and on prominent publications ranging from Pink News, Matador, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and many more. Originally from France, Sebastien moved to London in the early 2000s where he pursued a career as a computer programmer for Thompson Reuters and Bloomberg. He subsequently left it all to explore his passion for travelling around the world with Stefan to hand, and thus Nomadic Boys was born.

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