Dal Makhani – The True Queen of Dals

Anjali Venugopal May 15, 2020 NO COMMENTS

I love my meat. But there are a few vegetarian dishes that truly get me to overeat. One is this royal Dal Makhani. Serve it with some hot jeera rice and it’s a meal in itself. It’s rich and absolutely flavorful and one of my most favourite things to eat any day. But you must remember that the Dal Makhani is not something you can decide to cook when you are already hungry. It takes time, patience and love. Give this dish the love it needs and you’ll see magic.

Things you will need:

(serves 3-4)

  • Whole black urad dal- 3⁄4 cup
  • Red kidney beans (Rajma)- 1⁄4 cup
  • Water- 3.5 cups (to pressure cook)
  • Butter- 2 tablespoons or two 2 inch cubes
  • Red onion- 1 medium sized, chopped finely (chop well!)
  • Green chilies- 3 chopped finely
  • Ginger garlic paste- 2 teaspoons (grind a 1 inch stick of ginger along with 5-6 cloves of garlic)
  • Tomatoes- 2 large, pureed with skin on
  • Cumin seeds- 1⁄2 teaspoon
  • Cloves- 3
  • Green cardamom- 3 pods
  • Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
  • Indian bay leaf- 1
  • Kashmiri red chili powder- 2 teaspoons
  • Cream- ¼ cup
  • Kasuri Methi crushed- ½ teaspoon (optional)
  • Salt- to taste
  • Chopped coriander leaves (optional)

How to go about it:

  1. Soak the black dal and the red kidney beans together, overnight in enough water for a minimum of 9-10 hours. Once that is done, drain the water and rinse the lentils well. Keep it aside.
  2. Add the 3.5 cups (the same cup you used to measure the dal) of water and pressure-cook the lentils for at 20 whistles on high heat. Don’t add salt now. Check after 20 whistles to see if the lentils are cooked well and can be mashed with the back of a spoon. If not, add another cup of water and let it cook for another 2-3 whistles. The point here is to make sure the lentils are cooked thoroughly and that the black dal melts in your mouth.
  3. Once the dal is cooked, keep it aside.
  4. Next, in a heavy bottomed dish, heat 2 tablespoons of butter. Medium heat. Don’t let the butter burn though. Add the whole spices (cumin, cloves, green cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf). Saute for 30 seconds or until the spices release the flavour into the melted butter.
  5. Add the finely chopped onions and saute till they turn golden brown. Next, add the ginger garlic paste and green chillies and saute for 20 seconds.
  6. Next, add the pureed tomatoes, salt to taste and chilli powder and keep sauteing till most of the water content from the tomatoes evaporates and the fat starts to release from the sides. The mixture will now be slightly darker.
  7. Add the cooked dal with the stock and a cup of water and mix very well. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it stay on the stove on a low heat for a minimum of 40 minutes uncovered. Make sure you keep stirring the pot frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. The longer you let it simmer, the tastier it gets. So, 40 minutes is a minimum. Stay patient.
  8. If you feel the dal is getting too cakey or dry, keep adding half cups of water and mix well. I keep tasting the dal every now and then and you’ll actually feel the flavours deepen and come together to form a balance like never before. You can also ensure the salt it just right.
  9. Once the dal has simmered for a while and is nice and thick, add the cream. Take off the stove immediately and mix well. The Dal Makhani is not a watery dal. It’s rich and luscious.
  10. Add the kasuri methi (optional) and give it a good mix. Garnish with a small swirl of cream and chopped coriander leaves for an enhanced flavour.
  11. Serve warm with Naan or Jeera Rice or Rotis. Tastes even better the next day!

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