Monday, February 20, 2012

Best Dal Makhani Ever :: Meatless Masala Monday

We recently celebrated my father's 70th birthday. It was a gorgeous sun-soaked weekend in SF, perfect for taking in exquisite views all over the city: stunning vistas from the Golden Gate bridge, breathtaking strolls in oh-so-charming Sausalito, and incredible views while dining at Greens at Fort Mason and The Slanted Door at the Ferry Building. Have you tried the lychee cotton candy dessert at The Slanted Door? It is so, so much fun!

Over the weekend, I hosted a party to celebrate my father's birthday with family and friends. For the party, I made a mix of Gujarati and North Indian dishes, including my absolute favorite paneer makhani along with dal makhani, chole, and aloo gobi. It was a wonderful celebration full of laughter, love, and good memories. Happy 70th birthday, Daddy. I love you!

My choice of menu for the party isn't surprising given that, whenever I go to an Indian restaurant, I always order dal makhani and paneer makhani. Although delicious, I am a little afraid of all the cream and butter in the restaurant dishes.

Dal makhani is made mostly with whole black gram, or whole urad, which becomes so creamy as you cook it for a long time, eliminating the need for any cream. It is traditionally cooked for hours and hours, but these days a pressure cooker makes it even easier to make. Just be sure to soak the whole urad in hot water overnight and soak the rajma, or red kidney beans, in hot water for a full day, replacing the hot water midway. Then pressure cook the whole urad with kidney beans for 25 minutes, until tender.

I've shared a dal makhani recipe with you in the past, while it was a delicious, it wasn't quite perfect. After many, many experiments, I finally made the most incredible dal makhani and can't think of a better occasion to share it with you all.

Dal makhani is tasty and creamy with a perfect amount of tanginess from the tomato sauce. I like to use a little pat of butter for flavor, but you could easily just use canola or vegetable oil to make the dish vegan and lower in fat.

Dal Makhani
1 cup urad (whole black gram), soaked in hot water overnight
2 tbsp rajma (red kidney beans), soaked in hot water 24 hours, replace hot water at night
1 tbsp butter or canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried red chili
1 medium yellow onion, diced about 1 1/2 cups
4-5 large cloves of garlic, minced
1" ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
4 oz tomato sauce
optional 1 tbsp butter for finishing

Pressure cook dal for 25 minutes with 6 cups of water. Do not salt.

Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large heavy bottomed pot. Add cumin seeds and dried red chili, cooking about 1 minute. Add onion, cooking until translucent about 5 minutes, stirring frequently and do not let brown. Add garlic and ginger, cooking for 1 minute, until fragrant. Do not let the garlic brown. Add turmeric and red chili powder, cooking until fragrant about 1 minute. Add cooked urad (black lentils) and kidney beans, stirring. Add 1 cup of water. Increase heat, bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. I prefer my dal makhani thicker, so I only add 1 cup of water. If you prefer thinner dal, add more water to reach your desired consistency.

Add tomato sauce and salt, stirring to combine well, continue to simmer for 5 more minutes.. Taste for seasoning and salt, adjust as necessary. Finish with 1 tbsp of butter, simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve hot.


  1. Happy Birthday, Mr. O! Best wishes from our family to yours!

  2. This looks delicious. Happy birthday to your dad! Thank you for sharing yet another tempting concoction. I'm sitting down with a tall cup of milk and a coconut cooking. Perfect accompaniments to blog reading! I hope you are having a blessed week!

  3. You should have a side of Dal Makhani with every meal :)

  4. Indeed a delicious dish, Thanks for sharing this recipe.


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