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Firepot Dal and Rice with Spinach

rated 3.0 of 5 stars
photo: Firepot Dal and Rice with Spinach vegetarian entrée

A traditional Himalayan offering from a small British company. Low-fat, low-sodium, vegan.


  • low fat
  • low sodium
  • vegan
  • big portion size


  • poor rehydration
  • not wildly flavorful
  • weak packaging
  • short shelf-life

I've had this sitting in my food box since before the pandemic. I don't know if I bought it or if it was gifted to me. It certainly looks interesting, though. I've had dal bhat before, albeit a cream-sauce-based variety—which is, apparently, not entirely traditional? 


So, "dal" is a legume akin to a lentil. And "bhat" is rice. While these British fellows don't call this meal "dal bhat," dal bhat is essentially what it is. A traditional Himalyan soup of rice, "lentils," and vegetables spiced with what we would call curry.  Curry being, of course, little more than a typical mixture of spices usually featuring turmeric and cumin, among others. Simple.


Here you can see the rice, dal, spinach, and if you look closely even some bits of chili peppers. So far so good. Two and a quarter cups of boiling water and fifteen minutes and you have this: 


All well and good. But. Fifteen minutes is not sufficient to rehydrate lentils. Nor is twenty minutes. Now, I was very hungry, and did not wait longer than twenty minutes. I has halfway into a 12-mile hike in 37 degree F temperatures. I needed calories!  By the time I finished eating, about thirty minutes after pouring the boiling water into the bag, the lentils had finally rehydrated to chewy, rather than crunchy. Not a huge fault, but worth noting.

Another fault that was not massive but is worth noting is that the press-lock seal separated from the pouch upon the initial opening, meaning that it could not be fully resealed while rehydrating. I didn't tip the bag over while I was waiting, but I imagine that I might have been a little cross with myself had I done so. This may have been a flaw in this pouch alone, or it might be a whole production run. Either way, a word of warning.

Flavor was good. Sort of. By which I mean that the curry sauce was pleasant—not too spicy, but still definitely warm. Call it two, maybe two and half stars out of five. But here's a difficulty with low-fat, low-sodium meals. They are healthy, yes; but salt is a flavor enhancer, and fat is a flavor carrier. Without one or the other, flavors tend to seem a little weak. Or at least, they seem a little weak to this jaded Western palate.

I was distinctly unexcited by the end of the pouch —and it's a BIG pouch. A little more vegetable in there—more spinach, more tomato, more onion, more chili—might have gone a long way towards addressing this. But perhaps this could be a feature, rather than a flaw—perhaps you need a lighter palate cleanser in the middle of your trip.

And a final word that is not necessarily a flaw, but is certainly a factor to be aware of: shelf-life. Firepot apparently dehydrates their meals instead of freeze-drying them. This means that they do not have the 10-50 year shelf-life one might expect from "traditional" backpacking suppliers. Given my less than perfect recall of the purchase/gift date, I would say this likely had a 5-year best-by lifespan, which I was approaching.

All in all, a decent enough meal. Just...not exciting. And if you're on a long trip, you really are looking for exciting.


Over 40 years of hiking, backpacking, and car camping has me searching for the best bang for my culinary buck. This is my first Firepot meal, and my second backpacking dal bhat.

Source: bought or gifted, I cannot recall

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regular extra-large
Price Historic Range: $14.25
Weight 135g 200g
Calories 500kcal 750kcal
Water usage 400ml 600ml
Dietary vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free
Product Details from Firepot »