By guest blogger CORIN BELL
The wonderful Philippa (pictured sporting one of the new Cracking Good Food aprons) was back at Cracking Good Food’s Chorlton cookery school on Saturday for the second instalment of our new Nepalese cooking sessions, Dal Bhat!
Dal Bhat translates to lentils and rice, and it’s a staple of the Nepalese diet. According to Philippa, everyone in the country eats Dal Bhat at least once, if not twice, a day, every day. This might sound a bit odd, but the majority of people in the UK have a sandwich every day, at least once a day, so I guess every culture has its habits. And how do we make sure our sandwiches don’t get dull? We change the fillings, and have interesting sauces and pickles with them, and that’s exactly what the Nepalese do with Dal Bhat!
Philippa explained that the Nepalese way of cooking is more simple than some of the traditional Indian methods, and that the order in which ingredients are introduced tends to be similar. In Nepalese cooking, turmeric is used as a base, and tends to coat onions, potatoes, and other ingredients added to the pan first, giving an earthy flavour and great colour to all the dishes. We started by chopping all of the vegetables for our various dishes and the group learned to dry roast soy beans rather than soaking and boiling, to get a crunchy texture. Over the course of the session the group made a traditional Nepalese dal, a spicy Nepalese curry (meat or veg), tomato achaar (a tangy tomato accompaniment made with soy beans), bindi bhaji (a dry dish made with okra) AND garlic saag (a spinach side dish)… phew!
Throughout the afternoon, Philippa explained how these recipes have evolved, with some being long-standing staples in Nepal, and others coming over with communities fleeing Tibet in more recent history. Wonderful fresh smells of garlic, coriander and ginger accompany the stories… all history lessons should be this tasty! Philippa was kind enough to bring with her some traditional Thali-style metal plates, so the group got the traditional Nepalese experience as we sat down to eat our amazingly fresh, tasty curries, and Philippa gave out a Nepalese spice starter kit, with each participant’s name written in Nepalese – a lovely gift to inspire more great dishes at home.
There are more photos from this session on the Cracking Good Food Facebook page. Click here to check them out.
If this post has whet your whistle, why not sign up for Philippa’s Dal Bhat session on 7 February? Click here for more.