Dal Makhani , Makhni Dal, is nothing but buttery ,creamy lentils.
Made famous Moti Mahal and Bukhara restaurant, this is the piece de resistance from the Punjabi cuisine.
Whole urad dal is generally cooked whenever there is something to celebrate or during festivals. This takes a long time to cook -approximately 12-16 hours , but only 2-3 hours in a pressure cooker.
But food is a celebration. And this Dal indeed celebrates the Flavors of North India.
Dal makhani is called so ,not because of the butter added but because of the texture. This is a very mildly spiced,buttery,creamy dal, that acts as a foil to the other spicy gravies and vegetables served with paranthas or Tandoori Rotis…
In olden days,villages in North India generally had one sanjha chulha or common tandoor ,that women and men came over to make rotis on and while the embers were still glowing ,someone would place a degh or patila or pot of Dal to simmer over the glowing embers overnight.
And in the morning they would come back to dead embers ,but an almost cooked dal and then it was taken over and cooked at home.
Each home has a different way of tempering the Dal. Some like the Dal to be watery but like a very spicy tempering made with onions and tomatoes and a whole lot of spices where is others love the flavours of the Dal to speak for themselves.
You may, if you want to ,put a lot of butter into the dal. The more butter you add,the richer the taste will be.
It really isn’t needed, as even without the butter ,it is rich.
A word of caution ….too much of the dal eaten at night can cause flatulence ,but it is taken care of because of the ajwain and the badi elaichi.
For the Dal Makhani
1 cup urad Dal
2 tbsp red rajma
1 tbsp chana Dal
1 tbsp ginger ,garlic ,green chilli paste
1/2 tsp ajwain/ bishops weed seed
2 black elaichi / badi elaichi or black cardamom
1 tsp mustard oil
2 tbsp tomato puree or same amount grated deseeded tomatoes
1 tbsp grated onion
2 tbsp amul cream or malai from the top of milk
1/2 cup cold milk
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp kasuri methi roasted lightly on a tawa and powdered between your hands.
1 tsp deghi mirch
Ghee, green chillies, ginger juliennes, deghi mirch
Or cream/ butter to swirl
Salt to taste
For the dhooni / dhungaar /Smoking
1-2 live coals
1tsp Desi ghee or mustard oil
In a pressure Cooker
Pick, wash and soak the dals and rajma for at least 6 hours.
Drain all the water and place in a pressure cooker.
Add approximately 4 cups of water, the salt ,tumeric and the Degi mirch.
Add ajwain seeds ,the badi elaichi and the mustard oil. Stir.
The mustard oil will ensure that the Dal will not splatter out when the pressure cooker whistle blows.
Add the ginger garlic and green chilli paste. (Green chillies are entirely optional)
Close the pressure cooker and cook on high heat for one whistle and then reduce the heat to Simmer for 15 minutes.
Allow the pressure cooker to cool, open the lid ,stir in the tomato puree ,the onion the tablespoon of cream and the kasuri Methi powder and close the lid again. Now place on heat to simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Allowe the cooker to cool ,open the lid add the milk and a cup of cold water. Stir well and using a Pao bhaji masher it the back of your ladle mash up about 50% of the dal,allow it to simmer for at least 20-25 minutes.
Add the garam masala.
Ensure that the heat is low and you keep studying after every 5 to 10 minutes.
Check the seasoning and adjust the consistency by adding a little water if needed.
Turn off the heat and allow the dal to cool to room temperature.
Your Dal Makhani is ready.
When you are going to serve the dal, heat the Dal and pour it in to your service bowl .(preferably in the microwave)
Get your coal pieces burning and place in an old Steel /iron bowl or in a bowl that you have fashioned out of aluminium foil.
Place that over the dal and ensure that your service Bowl has a tight fitting lid.
Place the dhooni/ dhungaar katori on the Dal so that the Coals are not touching the dal.
Now place the cloves over the embers and pour over the mustard oil or desi ghee and quickly close the lid allowing the smoke or the Dhooni/ Dhungaar to penetrate The Dal.
Remove the lid after 5 minutes…. if you wish to serve the Dal just like this top with a little cream or butter or do a quick tadka or tempering.
In a small saucepan heat the Desi Ghee. Turn off the gas ,add the Degi mirch and the Green Chili or the juliennes of ginger and pour over the tempering on top of the dal.
Serve with paranthas or Tandoori roti, rumali roti or simple phulkas.
Remember this Dal is not very spicy…Dal Makhani… its just creamy mildly sweet because of the sweetness of the beans and has smoking of the cloves.
Try not to reheat this Dal directly over the gas either pop the leftovers into a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave or place that over a double boiler and heat over steam.
Enjoy the decadent northern flavours and get the same taste as the Dal from your favourite restaurants.
If you do have a slow cooker, your life is so much easier.
Mimicking the authentic procedure, place the soaked dals,salt ,tumeric ,Degi mirch ,ajwain, badi elaichi ,mustard oil,ginger garlic green chilli paste ,tomato puree, onion and kasuri methi into the slow cooker and top with five to six cups of water.
On low heat, allow the dal to simmer at least 10 hours .
Once the is mashable ,mash it up and add the cream and cook till everything is amalgamated.
Check for seasoning.
Place in a serving bowl, smoke with cloves in the same way and temper if you wish.