Dhal Bhaat Power, 24hr

29th March 2016

Rice is the main grain grown and eaten in the middle hills of Nepal and we were quick to realise it would be a part of almost every meal, and in gigantic quantities! Typical meals with our host family consist of dhal bhaat, ostensibly the national dish of Nepal. Although rice and dhal grab the headlines, our plates also contain subjee, lightly curried cauliflower, and a side of roasted tomato, coriander and garlic relish named ocha.

Bhalu Khola’s 80 homes also produce an impressive 3,000 litres of milk daily, which we drink a small portion of after meals. The cows are hand-milked twice a day and the produce carried in churns to the local dairy parlour where the murmur of commerce from jovial smallholders fills the morning and evening street. Each litre fetches a moderate 45 rupees, or 30p, and taking in to account the diminutive costs for the upkeep of the cattle, a considerable amount more profit than dairy farmers back in the UK.

Our host Ama Khakamie

Nepali eating times, certainly in agrarian communities, fly in the face of our routine back home. Sweet tea is in the flask just after 6am, not that myself, Mark or Sashi have usually been roused. Lunch is served around 9.30am and dinner a more appeaseable 7pm, leaving a hunger gap mid-afternoon. Enter ‘chat pate’, a rice crispy and noodle savoury snack flavoured with red onion, chilli, coriander, lemon, raw peas and coarsely cut finger chillies for an all-mighty kick. This is regularly shared between groups of friends, eaten from what seems to be pages of children’s homework and little cardboard spoons.

Sashi teaching Mark the ropes

During a visit to a nearby ruin, we were treated to an exquisite dish named momo. These miniature, hand-crafted dumplings are made with a wheat flour paper that encase various fillings, in our case, spiced vegetables in one and buff, or water buffalo, in the other. These were complimented with a lip-tingling, nose-running tomato, chilli and timbu soup. Hands down the best dish I’ve eaten so far in Nepal, even if most of the group couldn’t handle the heat!


Written by UK Volunteer Philip Howes

Youth Economic Empowerment Nepal