Sherpa Rice Dinner

I discovered this dish at Nantahala Outdoor Center in western North Carolina during a high mountain hiking retreat. I hung around for 3 days to hike and try to hack the recipe. Doh! Right before my eyes it was in their cookbook for sale.

Sherpa’s Rice is a deep, centering food. One of their cooks lived in Nepal and adapted this dish of the Sherpas, who porter for climbers up Mt. Everest without using oxygen!!!

This is an expanded version that includes a classic blend of tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and peppers that tops the rice.

Above: I use a Japanese suribachi to puree; instead of a mortar and pestle. I like the grinding action instead of the pounding

INGREDIENTS: Sherpa sauce is excellent as a marinade

  • SHERPA SAUCE: This makes enough for several recipes. It is a great all-around sauce!
    • soy sauce – 1/2 cup
    • garlic – 1/2 tsp, grated or pureed
    • ginger – 1 tsp, grated
    • chile flakes – [optional]

  • SHERPA RICE: I like to take the mushroom stems and add to the grain pot and remove after it comes to the boil; before adding the grains to the pot
    • brown rice – 3/4 cup
    • barley, pearled, 1/4 cup
    • lentils – green, 1/4 cup
    • salt – 1/2 tsp
    • boiling water – 2 cups
vegetable medley
  • VEGETABLES: This is my input to make a “ratatouille” style topping
    • neutral oil – 2 TBS
    • onion – 2 cups, [1 large], 1 inch squares
    • bell pepper – 2 cups, [1 large], 1 inch squares
    • mushrooms – 2 cups, 1 inch slices
    • tomato – 1 whole, chopped [or 15 oz can whole tomatoes]
    • herb garnish: big hand of parsley, chives, and/or mint

The Secret Duo is Tomatoes and Sherpa Sauce

INSTRUCTIONS: The grain portion can easily be doubled

  1. Boil 2 cups of water in a small pot with a tight fitting lid, then add rice, barley, lentils, and salt, reduce heat to a bare simmer and cover. Do not peek for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, covered. Alternatively, you can bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes (starting with boiling water)
  2. Make the sauce; you will only need a portion—save the rest of other saucing
  3. In a large skillet, fry the onion in oil until they soften a bit and take on some color; add bell pepper and mushrooms and fry until softened. Add tomato and reduce heat to medium-low and cover [if using canned tomatoes, break up with hands while adding to skillet]. Cook a few minutes, the tomatoes will yield their liquid, and make a sauce—almost like a stew. If stew is a little dry, add in the reserved tomato juice
  4. Add about 3 TBS of the Sherpa sauce to the veggies and stir. Wait a minute, then taste and adjust if needed.
  5. Assemble the dish family style: mound the grains on a platter, laden on the veggies, and top with herbs


  • Add a 1/4 cup dry sherry at Step 3
  • Great topped with toasted sesame seeds
  • Top with a fried or runny poached egg

Recipe adapted by B. Hettig from original

2 thoughts on “Sherpa Rice Dinner

  1. Thank you for sharing. My family frequents the NOC, and often we eat at River’s End. My search for Copycat NOC Sherpa Rice led me here. We followed your recipe last night, and had no leftovers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad you also had the experience of enjoying Sherpa’s Rice at NOC. I spent an extra day back in the late 90’s trying to nail down the recipe. It’s been in my rotation over all these years!


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