Dal Makhani

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What pasta is to Italians is what dal is to Indians. It’s a staple across the country and when accompanied with rice it’s a dish considered to be the “bread and butter” of the cuisine. 

My cousins in India find my love of lentils a little odd. They often roll their eyes when their respective mothers tell them that “dal is for dinner”.  In fact if you asked my cousin Sahil what he thinks of lentils his response is a facial expression akin to that of the straight faced emoticon (yeah the one that has a horizontal line for it’s lips). He’d rather have a “McMaharaja” burger than masoor dal which is fair enough (Maccy D’s in India is pretty great) but I just don’t think he is giving it the chance it really deserves!

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For me, dal is quintessentially Indian. One of my fondest memories when spending summer holidays in India, was the sound of pressure cooker whistles going off at lunchtime throughout the neighbourhood. The aroma of pulses cooking away would fill the streets and I would immediately feel hungry. From moong and masoor to toor and channa, each household has their favourite dal and unique way of preparing it. I love how the amazing variety of lentils can result in endless flavours and dishes! 

Today’s recipe is one of my absolute favourites. Dal Makhani is silky, creamy and spicy all at the same time. Typically served with buttery chapatis or naans it’s utterly comforting and you are never judged for taking seconds (or thirds!). Enjoy…

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Dal Makhni
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup black urad lentils
  2. 1/4 cup kidney beans or rose cocoa beans
  3. 1/4 cup channa lentils
  4. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 1 medium onion
  6. 3 large garlic cloves
  7. 3 peppercorns
  8. 3 cloves
  9. 1 black cardamom
  10. 1 bay leaf
  11. 2" piece cinnamon stick
  12. water
  13. 3 tbsp ghee or butter
  14. 1 tsp cumin
  15. 2" ginger, finely chopped
  16. 2 plum tomatoes & 2 tbsp tomato juice
  17. 2 birds eye green chillies
  18. 1 tsp coriander powder
  19. 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  20. 1 tsp garam masala
  21. 1/4 cup cream (optional)
  22. handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Place the urad lentils, kidney beans and channa lentils together in a bowl and soak in water overnight. Rinse and keep aside.
  2. To a pressure cookery, add the soaked lentils, onions, garlic, peppercorns, cloves, black cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon and salt along with 4 cups of water. Carefully place the lid on the cookery and place on high heat. When the first whistle goes off, reduce to low heat and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Allow the steam to escape naturally before opening the lid.
  3. Mash the lentils using a masher until they are blended together.
  4. If you do not have a pressure cooker, place above ingredients in a sauce pan along with 5 cups of water and cook until lentils are tender. (This will take approx 45 minutes). If the water reduces before they are cooked, add more throughout. Once cooked and mashed, keep aside.
  5. Heat ghee in a non-stick pan. Once hot, add the cumin. When the cumin begins to splatter, add the ginger and for 2 minutes until slightly brown.
  6. Now add the tomatoes along with the chillies. At this point, add the coriander powder, chilli powder, garam masala and fresh coriander.
  7. Cook for 2 minutes. When you see the oil separating, add the lentils and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add cream and cook for another minute.
  8. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Turn off heat.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Urad & Chana Dal Masala (Spicy Punjabi Dal)

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Urad & Chana Dal Masala otherwise known as “Maa Chole ki Dal” is one that is commonly relished in Punjabi households. Made from tempering a combination of split urad dal and chana dal (split bengal gram) lentils in a typical Punjabi masala, this dish never fails to satisfy at dinner time! This is a favourite of my Pops, especially when served with red onion, raw mango pickle and fresh hot tandoori chappatis. Creamy in texture and spicy in flavour, it’s not hard to see why it tops his list (well..he doesn’t actually have a list..but if he did, it would!). Check out the recipe below. Comments/tweets are always appreciated!


Serves 4

What we need:
1/2 cup split urad dal lentils
1/2 cup chana dal lentils (aka split bengal gram)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 onion, finely chopped
2″ ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1 green chilli, finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes plus 3 tbsp juice (from tin)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika
Handful fresh coriander

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How to: 

  • Soak both lentils in water overnight. Wash well and rinse.
  • Add the washed lentils to a pressure cooker. Add approx 4 cups of water, 1 tsp of salt and the turmeric powder. When the first whistle goes, cook for a further 20-25 minutes. (If you do not have a pressure cooker, cook lentils in a pan with approx 5-6 cups of water. Cook them until they are tender and slightly mushy in texture.
  • Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds begin to splatter, add the onions. Now add 1 tsp of salt and mix continuously until the onions begin to brown slightly. Once light golden, add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Mix well.
  • Now add the garam masala, paprika and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes at this point and mash them well with a wooden spoon. Continue to mix and cook for 2 minutes.
  • When you begin to see the oil separate from the masala, add the coriander and mix. You are now ready to add the masala to the cooked lentils. Once you have added the masala to the dal, mix well and add approx 1 cup water (or according to how thin/thick you would like your dal to be).
  • Bring to boil on high heat, mixing every 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat. Check for salt and adjust accordingly.
  • Serve with fresh chapatis and salad.

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