Photo: Babita Shrestha, front center, at home in Nepal.

In 2016, Babita Shrestha (chef, photographer, graphic designer) decided to live a vegan lifestyle as much as possible. After cooking delicious and healthy plant-based meals for herself and her friends, she decided to let her creativity blossom, curating her own unique vegan recipes for dinner parties. Her journey began in a small village in the Terai region of Nepal to the Ancient Metropolitan Temple City of Kathmandu, where she was born. Later, she moved to the USA and, as an entrepreneur, started Vegan Nepal in Lexington, Kentucky. While she never had the opportunity to look at a beautiful cookbook until the age of 30, she decided to create one which became the first ever vegan and vegetarian Nepali cookbook: Plant-based Himalaya.

Shrestha believes that cooking is about loving yourself and spreading that love to those around you. She says, “It is great therapy for staying happy and delighting others. Fewer and fewer people cook every day, settling instead for unhealthy processed food. This decreases overall well-being and at the same time increases the wasteful use of plastic packaging, most of which will end up in a river or ocean or polluting our farmland and ruining our natural paradises. Wherever possible, I use plastic-free ingredients in this book. I hope you will enjoy the food that results!”

She handpicked 38 of her favorite recipes to give your taste buds the treat of a lifetime. The photos of the dishes enhance the mouth-watering experience and also provide a short tour of Nepal. Plant-Based Himalaya is designed to inspire you to cook and eat exquisite and unique vegan home-style Nepali cuisines made with passion. She and her publisher have graciously shared two favorite recipes here. Enjoy!


Photo: Pulau rice dish from “Plant-Based Himalaya”


COOK TIME ~ 30 minutes
Basmati rice: 1 cup
Water: 2 cups
Green pea: ½ _cup
Carrot: 1 small
Cashew: ½ _cup
Golden raisin: ¼ _cup

Photo: Pilau ingredients, from “Plant-Based Himalaya.”

Coconut oil: 2 tbsp
Cumin seed: 1 tsp
Turmeric: ¼ _tsp
Dried red chili: 4
Clove: 6 buds
Cardamom: 8 cloves
Cinnamon: ½ _stick
Cilantro: ½ _cup
Salt: 1 tsp

1. Wash the rice and then it soak in a cup of water for 30 minutes.
2. Crush the spices with a mortar and pestle.
3. Heat a pan on medium and add oil. Once the oil heats up, add cumin seeds, temper for few seconds, and lower the heat.
4. Add cashews, raisins, and red chilis. Cook for 30 seconds.
5. Turn the heat to medium. Add green peas, cauliflower, and carrots. Fry until golden brown.
6. Add turmeric and spice blend (cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves). Mix thoroughly.
7. Drain the rice and add it to the pan. Fry for a few minutes until the water dries up.
8. Add salt and 2 cups of water. Mix completely, and cover while continuing to cook on medium heat for 5 more minutes.
9. Take the lid off, stir gently, and then turn the heat to low and cook the pulau for another 5 minutes.
10. Add chopped cilantro and lime on top. Hot and delicious pulau is ready to serve!
• I add whole cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon along with the cashew. However, most people do not like the taste of whole spices, so I suggest grinding them before you add them in the rice.
• Sometimes I add saffron to the pulau for extra flavor and aroma. I soak a half teaspoon of saffron in the water and mix it with the rice.


Musuro Dal, from “Plant-Based Himalaya.”


COOK TIME ~ 25 minutes
Red lentils: 1 cup
Red onion: ½ small
Tomato: 1 small
Water: 3 cups
Sunflower oil: 2 tsp
Garlic : 1 clove
Fresh green chili: 1 medium
Turmeric: ¼ tsp
Lemon: 1 tsp
Cilantro: ½ cup
Salt: 1 tsp

1. Wash the red lentils.
2. In a pressure cooker, combine the lentils with 3 cups of water, turmeric, and salt. Close the lid and boil until it whistles. This usually
takes about 10 minutes.
3. Turn the stove off and let it cool down.
4. Heat a pan on medium and then add oil.
5. Once the oil is hot, add chopped garlic and onion. Fry until they start turning golden brown.
6. Add chopped green chili and tomato. Mix well.
7. Pour boiled lentils to the pan. I usually add a little water to the pressure cooker to get all the remaining dal.
8. Let it simmer on low heat for a minute and then turn the stove off.
9. Garnish with cilantro and a hint of lemon juice on top.
10. Delicious, spicy, and tangy dal is ready.

(All photos courtesy of Red Lightning Books)