Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani is a North Indian delicacy that is slow cooked over a low flame. It is made from whole black gram, urad, and kidney beans, rajma. This is my most favorite dal. I LOVE the creaminess of the slow cooked lentils and the mouthwatering flavors of the garlic and onion. Roasted cumin and ground coriander add a fragrant, subtle sweetness to the dal, tomato sauce adds a little acidity, and finishing with garam masala brightens the dish with complex, aromatic spices.

The dish is traditionally very rich in butter and cream... it's no coincidence that makhani means butter in Hindi. Of course when you cook it at home, you can adjust the amount of butter and cream to taste.

Dal Makhani
1/2 cup udad (whole black gram)
2 tbsp rajma (red kidney beans)
6 oz canned tomato sauce (unsalted)
1/4 tsp red cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp table salt (if used unsalted tomato sauce, otherwise to taste)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/8 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp butter, unsalted

For tempering
1.5 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 dried red chilis
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1" ginger, finely minced or shredded (about 1 tbsp)

Pick over dal and wash thoroughly four times. Soak in very hot water and keep covered for at least an hour. Pressure cook dal for about 20 minutes with 2 cups of water. If you don't have a pressure cooker, soak the dal overnight. Bring to a boil with 3 cups of water and let simmer for about 2 hours. Stir frequently and add water as needed. Cook until kidney beans are soft and black gram starts to break apart.

In a separate saucepan, heat 1.5 tbsp butter over medium heat. When starts to foam, add cumin seeds and dried red chilis. Once cumin becomes darker, add onion and cook until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes.

Stir in ginger and garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, 1/4 tsp red cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir to distribute the spices. Cook until sauce is reduced and thickly coats the onion mixture, about 4 minutes.

Add cooked dal with liquid, stir until well combined. Add another 1/2 tsp salt as necessary. (I used unsalted tomato sauce and added 1 tsp of table salt in total).  Simmer on medium low heat until dal is very soft, about 30-45 minutes, adding 1/2 cup of water at a time as needed. The steam made it difficult to take a picture but you get the idea...

When dal is cooked, reduce heat to low. Stir in 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 tbsp butter, and 1/8 cup cream. Let simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.

Serve hot with rice, naan, or roti. Serves 4.

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