August 8, 2013

Dal Makhani

Maa Di Dal, Maah Ki Dal, Kaali Dal, Dal Maharani - however you call it, Dal Makhani is undoubtedly the queen of all dals for all the goodness it has to offer! Creamy, rich, healthy, tasty - however you put it, this quintessential staple of Punjab is celebrated & relished all over the world!

Trivia about Dal Makhani
Traditionally, Dal Makhani is cooked overnight over charcoal to ensure its creamy consistency. However, with the availability of modern cooking equipments like pressure cooker, the preparation time of the dish has significantly reduced to 2–3 hours.

Most of the restaurants add a lot of butter and heavy cream to achieve the creamy/silky texture. Try this home-based version of Dal Makhani, and you 'll love it for sure. I was able to achieve the thick, creamier texture with little heavy cream & negligible amount of butter.

I have even tried this recipe by skipping butter & heavy cream (VEGAN version) without compromising its taste/texture. In my experience, its actually the lentils that gives this dish its characteristic creaminess. Slow cooking is the key that helps in achieving the right flavors & texture. Take your time to cook and be patient to enjoy this dal in its fullest flavor.

Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 8 hrs (includes soaking time)
Cook time - 2-3 hrs
Serves - 4

Whole black lentils - 3/4 cup (Whole Urad dal)
Kidney beans / Rajma - 1/4 cup
Split Chickpeas / Channa dal - 1/4 cup (Replace it with whole black chickpeas)

Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 no (small)
Ginger - 1 inch (grated)
Tomato puree - 1 cup (from 2 medium tomatoes)

Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Kasoori Methi / Dry methi leaves - 1 tbsp

Butter - 2 tbsp (replace with vegetable oil)
Heavy cream - 1/4 cup (optional)
Salt - to taste

Wash and soak all the three lentils overnight in water. 

Following day, drain excess water from soaked lentils. Wash lentils for 4-5 times changing water every time.

Pressure cook the lentils with a tsp of salt & 4 cups of water in medium heat for 1 whistle. After the first whistle, reduce heat to low-medium and let the lentils slow-cook for upto 8 whistles. Let it sit for atleast 20 mins until all the pressure is released. Then, slightly mash the lentils with the back of a ladle.

Heat a tbsp of butter/oil in a pan over medium flame. Add cumin seeds and let it sizzle. Add chopped onion, grated ginger and sauté until it turns translucent. Add tomato puree and let it cook for 2-3 mins until soft. Add turmeric powder and red chilli powder and let it cook until the raw smell of tomatoes is gone.

Add cooked lentils, salt (if required) and cook over medium flame for 4-5 mins or until desired consistency. Add crushed kasoori methi, mix well and cook for another min. Add fresh cream (if you are using), mix well and cook for a min.

Serve hot with rice/roti.

- Channa dal can be replaced with black chichpeas.
- Slow cooking is important to get a nice creamier texture.
- Heavy cream might curdle if you cook the dal for long time after adding it.