If Mom and apple pie are the United States, then dal-bhat is Nepal. But we don't call mom or eat apple pie every day, all day. The singular Nepali identity is in their mania for the recipe of lentil soup and rice, although it originates from India. It is known and the Nepali national dish and there are those who perpetually subsist on its nutritional wealth of starch upon starch. The variety I have enjoyed before at (perhaps Americanized but tasty) Indian restaurants offers a lentil sauce with thicker consistency and more lively spices, but the Nepali was is a very runny, bland soup ladled across an enormous mound of white rice. The more elaborate versions may supplement with boiled vegetables or yellow or black sauces, as well as yogurt on the side. Dal-bhat is simple to prepare, and it's a great idea to stick with a winner when it comes to your tastes. Pema's daughter Nawang wrote down her recipe for me, and here's how she likes to prepare it. Her recipe looks really good!
3 cups of water
1 cup red lentils
1 Tbs. peeled minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. seeded, chopped fresh green chili
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tamarind concentrate
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/4 black mustard seed
Bring water to boil in pan over medium heat. Add lentils. Reduce heat and simmer covered until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes. They should break easily when pressed between thumbs and index fingers. Remove from heat. Puree this mixture with ginger and green chili in blender until smooth. Return to pan and bring to simmer. Add salt, little sugar, and tamarind and stir to dissolve the tamarind. Remove from heat. Heat oil Fry black mustard seeds for a few seconds. As soon as the seeds start popping remove from heat and pour contents of pan over the lentil mixtures. Simmer 2 to 3 more minutes. Stir in five spice. Cover and let stand for a few minutes to help develop the flavors. Garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro and serve with boiled rice.