Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dal Makhani

When I come up with YamDaisy menus (for more info see here),  I try to make sure the soup and each of the main meals are quite different to each other ~ if one is dairy based, another will be dairy free, if one is spicy, the others won't be, and so on.

But I am having a little break from posting menus and thought I might do a little celebration of Indian dishes. I am thinking of how popular curry is as a meal and that maybe, in some areas, the YamDaisy Cafe would have customers who want curries on the menu all the time!

My last post was a delicious spiced vegetable curry, this one is a dal, and maybe the most comforting dal of all. Dals are cooked beans or lentil dishes and are the delicious, nutritious foods the YamDaisy Cafe is all about.

Dal Makhani is quite a rich dal, but balances out when served with rice and a fresh salad of tomato, cucumber and avocado. It is a bit of a procedure, but what a dish! It is made with a mixture of beans and lentils, and it took me a while to get this recipe just the way I like it. That is because I am not that fond of urad dal ~ it doesn't cook to the creamy softness of other pulses, but that does mean it gives this dal a bit of back bone, which is why it is such a classic. I do put less urad dal than some recipes, but I find this ratio perfect!


Place 1/4 cup split urad dal and 3/4 cup black or red kidney beans in a bowl and cover with water and leave to soak over night
In the morning rinse 1/2 a cup of channa dal and put to soak for an hour.

Next put the urad and black beans in a pan with water to cover by a couple of centimetres. Bring to the boil and boil hard for 10 minutes. I have a tea ball that I fill with 6 cardamom pods, 4 cloves and a piece of cinnamon bark that I let boil along with the pulses. This adds a depth of flavour.

After the 10 minutes, remove the spiceball if you have put it in, and add the chana dal. Bring back to the boil and remove any scum foam. If I have removed the scum, and add a little oil, I find I can then pressure cook the pulses for 15 minutes, but you need to be sure of your cooker, most pressure cookers warn against cooking lentils under pressure.
It would probably take an hour and a half of simmering to cook in a saucepan. Stir occasionally and top up with water as necessary.
When they are cooked you can squish them with a wooden spoon to make a thick mash with each pulse giving its own texture.

Next stir in a big tablespoon of butter and a big tablespoon of cream and season with salt to taste. Then stir in a tin of diced tomatoes (or equivalent fresh if you are so lucky) and keep the pot on gentle heat while you fry the tarka.

Now heat a tablespoon of oil or ghee in a small frypan. Have all these 'tarka' ingredients ready to add in.
Add a tsp of cumin seeds and fry til crackling
Then add four finely chopped garlic cloves, and as they fry add a small finely chopped onion and fry til golden brown
Next add 2 sliced fresh chillies and 2 tsp of chili powder ~ you can add less ofcourse, but the cream softens the chili heat, so it can be surprising how much this dal needs
Add a tsp of turmeric powder and let it sizzle for another minute and then stir it all into the pulses.

You can finish it off with a tsp of cream in a swirl, and some chopped coriander.



  1. That sounds just perfect for the gray weather we have here. Warming and nutricious! Yum!

  2. Wow I am glad u have butter here in your Dal. One big tablespoon? Not enough...Add some more :p I just love butter. Good your back blogging. As for me I haven't write anything yet because of work. It's crazy and busy as Christmas approaches.

    Merry Christmas to you :)

  3. It looks very warming and nutritious! Thank you for the recipe!
    Lucy xx

  4. Oh! Daal Makhani is just right for cold winter evenings... Cumin scented rice, daal makhani, wedges of naan, SLURP!
    Pssst.. I dunk some crusty french bread in the daal and enjoy it;)

  5. Okay, more butter! and O I would love that cumin scented rice, wedges of naan and/or crusty french bread!

  6. Joy, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!