Tibetan Dal Bhat (a delicious, fragrant lentil stew)

Adapted from www.yowangdu.com/tibetan-food/


  • 1C red lentils
  • 1T vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, mined
  • 1T ginger, minced
  • 3/4t salt
  • 1/2t mustard seeds
  • 1/2t turmeric
  • 1/2t cumin seeds
  • 1/2t coriander powder
  • 1 medium tomato, diced;  or small can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2T butter (optional)
  • 2T fresh cilantro
  • 3C Chicken or vegetable stock
  • Cooked basmati rice (or you can pack along instant rice for the trail)

Wash and rinse the lentils and allow to soak overnight if possible (can do without but this speeds the cooking time).

Heat the oil in a large skillet or dutch oven;  add the ginger and onion and stir fry on high until the onion is a little brown around the edges, 2-5 mins.  Turn down the heat to medium and add the ginger – stir fry for another 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the cumin seeds, salt, turmeric, mustard seed and coriander powder and stir for another 2 minutes (this will begin to smell divine!).  Add the diced tomatoes and butter, cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes.  Then stir in the lentils.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes, add a cup of stock, cook 5 minutes more, stir in 2C more stock.  Continue cooking on medium for 10 more minutes.  Taste the stew to be sure the lentils are tender – cook longer if needed.  Then turn off the heat, sprinkle with the fresh cilantro, and it’s ready to serve over your basmati rice.  Tibetans like to scoop this up with some kind of unleavened flatbread – chapatis are popular, but you can also use Naan or tortillas.  Some enjoy livening it up with some red chili flakes, or with an Indian chutney or hot sauce.

Ladle out a known quantity (2 trail servings at about 1.5-2C per serving) onto the solid plastic tray of your dehydrator.  You can do 4 servings at a time if you have enough left over, by putting an additional 3-4C of the mixture on a second plastic tray.   You can dry two trays of this in your dehydrator at one time – just separate the two trays with an empty one.

The lentil stew spread onto the solid dehydrator tray

The lentil stew spread onto the solid dehydrator tray

Close up of the lentil stew on the dehydrator tray

Close up of the lentil stew on the dehydrator tray

Dry the mixture on the 135o setting overnight.  In the morning, crumble up the mixture.  If it still feels a little moist, put it back in the dehydrator for a few more hours; otherwise, put the dried mixture into one or more zip-loc bags, label with the number of original servings, and put away in the fridge or freezer.  When you’re ready to pack your food for the trail, put the same number of servings of instant rice in a separate zip-loc bag to rehydrate at camp and serve with your Dal.

2 servings crumbled into a quart-size zip loc bag

2 servings crumbled into a quart-size zip loc bag

At camp, boil water and add enough of it to your pre-measured dehydrated food to reconstitute the original serving volume.  Wrap it in aluminum foil or tuck it into an insulated cozy for 15 minutes and it should be ready to eat!



One comment on “Tibetan Dal Bhat (a delicious, fragrant lentil stew)

Leave a Reply to Amber Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s