When I heard the news that Nepal had been hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, I immediately thought of a few people. I thought of my flatmate James, who had just luckily just returned from a trekking holiday there. I thought of Edmund Hilary, who with Nepali Sherpa Tenzing Norgay was the first to climb Everest, and whose work building schools and hospitals in the region has formed a bond of friendship between our country and theirs. I thought of myself and my university friends, living through the Christchurch Earthquakes, which were smaller in magnitude and occurred in a place with much newer infrastructure.
And I thought of my mate Uzol Rai. Uzol is a Nepali trekking guide who I met recently while traveling in Myanmar. He and his friends were in Kathmandu when the earthquake hit, survived and are now using their trekking skills to get aid to cut off areas. I fondly remember Uzol’s mountaineering stories, his photography, and his hilarious ability to ride a bike while facing backwards. And his love of Dal Bhat. Dal Bhat (lentils and rice) is the staple food of Nepal, he told me “I am never full until I have eaten rice” and then proved it, ordering two side orders of rice after consuming a massive burger and chips. He LOVES dal bhat. So when I was thinking of ways to help Uzol and the Nepalese in this time of need, dal bhat was the obvious answer. I looked up a few recipes, sent out a few emails and in a couple of days we had over 50 takers lining up for a hearty ladle of lentils and rice. We raised over $400, (it costs less than a dollar per person to make!) to help buy lentils, rice and aid equipment for Uzol and his friends to transport to hard hit areas.
Its moments like this that remind me why I love food. This is not the most flavorsome meal (although Uzol would disagree), it is simple, cheap and super nutritious. But for me, this means helping out a mate in need and bringing my workplace closer together for a good cause. People were so keen to help. When a colleague’s family found out about it, they made a chickpea curry and 50 (!) roti bread’s to go with the meal. Another colleague set up a clothes collection to send over. So I encourage you to try this recipe, one kiwi’s take on a Nepalese staple food. Eat it with friends or family on a cold day and, if you can, contribute to one of the many charity’s that are aiding Nepal.