Dal Makhani is a delicacy from Punjab in India. Traditionally this dal was cooked slowly, for hours, on charcoal. This gave it a creamier texture. It had ‘malai’ (cream) or fresh butter added to it. When cooked at home these days, more moderate amounts of cream or butter are used. When prepared in restaurants, it is cooked slowly on low heat and often has a large amount of cream and butter added. Lentils and beans were soaked overnight for at least 8 hours and gently simmered on low heat along with ginger, garlic and a few other spices (garam masala). These are then combined with a tangy masala base which includes onions, tomatoes (chopped or puree) or dried mango powder or even pomegranate seeds.
Dollops of fresh cream and butter lend the rich finishing touch. It is garnished with finely chopped coriander leaves and fresh cream. It is a sumptuous meal and a staple diet in Punjab and most of Northern India. It is commonly eaten with roti, rice, naan chapatis.
- 1 cup whole urad or black gram lentil
- 1/3 cup kidney beans (Rajma)
- 1 tbs grated ginger
- Red chili powder (according to taste)
- 1 tsp. turmeric powder
- red chili powder (daggi mirch)
- cumin powder, coriander powder
- 3-4 tbs. ghee or clarified butter or oil
- A large pinch of hing (Asafoetida)
- 2 bay leaves, 1/2 cinnamon stick and 3 cloves
- 1 tbsp minced ginger and garlic
- 1 medium onion (thinly chopped, optional)
- 2-3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp. Garam Masala (this can be altered as per taste)
- 1/2 cup fresh cream.
- 2 tbs. chopped coriander leaves (optional)
- Salt to taste
- 5-6 cups water (to cook dal)
- Wash and soak black urad (beans) and rajma (red kidney beans) overnight in an adequate amount of lukewarm water.
- Cook the soaked dal and rajma and chickpeas in 5-6 cups of water with salt, red chili powder, turmeric, and grated ginger until soft.
- Keep the cooked dal aside.
- Heat oil or butter in a thick bottomed pan. Add hing, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 cinnamon stick and 3 cloves, and chopped onions and cook until light golden brown in color and just when onion turns brown add ginger garlic paste and sauté.
- Add chopped tomatoes. Sauté and add 2 tsp of coriander powder and remaining half quantity of the red chili powder as per taste and sauté until tomatoes are well mashed.
- Add cooked dal and, water as needed.
- Mix it well and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- This dal generally requires more salt then we usually put in for other dal and this should be added as per taste.
- Add fresh cream and 1 tbsp of clarified butter and let it simmer for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving.
- Serve hot with naan, paratha or rice.
This dish is extremely popular not just in North India but elsewhere as well. It tastes very good the following day after reheating properly. Soaking the beans overnight reduces cooking time. You can make it in slow cooker but make sure that you boil it briskly in a pan for the last 10 minutes, to neutralise the toxins in kidney beans / Rajma.
You can substitute garam masala with cumin-coriander powder and cream with sour cream or low fat yogurt. This dal is rich in starch and minerals, it is also considered heavy for digestion, however ginger solves this problem and makes it easy to digest. Use olive oil instead of ghee or butter and omit cream.