Monday, March 24, 2014

Dal Makhni - I wont say it again but it is without makhan :-)

I won't even go about explaining my vanishing act this past week, just suffice to say life has been busy and wonderful. We watched a very unique and wonderful dance performance over the weekend of which DD was part of. Awesome choreography, beautiful music and flawless performances made the long, hard months of toil totally worth it. Anything more will be divulging personal details which I avoid meticulously on the blog, but wanted to share the happiness with you all :-).

On a different topic, I got hold of Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri's latest work. I have read all her work so far and admire her very visual prose that makes you feel the story and this novel was no different on that aspect. With the Mao inspired Naxalite movement as background, she explores her human interactions and relationships. I felt let down as it didn't get to the depths of any of its characters but seemed to just graze on the surface. It is a compelling story and is backed by her brilliant writing but for me personally, it fell a little short. I am still a great fan and will read her Interpreter of Maladies or Namesake all over again but this latest read was a little disappointing. Maybe, it will work if I read it again sometime in a different mood. I have a new writer (to me)'s book on my nightstand now which I haven't started yet, will tell you all what I discover next time.

Back to today's recipe, how do you like your Dal? In our home, we like it any which way it is made from the oh-so-regular saaru, huli/sambar to patholi & nuchinunde to ambode to various pachadis to uslis to payasa/kheer, I am sure I left out a bunch of other dishes there :-). Dal here is a very loose term I use to include all kinds of legumes, lentils, pulses etc. Being the key source of protein in a vegetarian kitchen, this ingredient is something that shows up in a different avatar every single day. A true blue Andhraite that my BH is when it comes to his pappu(dal), any cooked dal/lentils is heaven for him while tempered and seasoned Dal is pure nirvana. So, if he is around in the kitchen taste testing while I am cooking, I need to readjust my calculation of spices as the dal vanishes and reduces in quantity every time I turn around :-).
Don't worry, I removed all that butter from the top before eating :-)
I bring you a special kind of dal today, this should not be a stranger to you if you eat Indian food regularly, atleast you would have heard about it. A typical punjabi fare, you will find it on most restaurant menus. These are best eaten in road side dhabas, tear a piece of warm naan, use it as a mop to scoop up a spoon full of dal makhni and put it into the mouth along with a bite of green chili or raw onions... I will let you enjoy that morsel for a few seconds.

If it is such a common dish and easily available, why do I write about it? Just because my version is different :-), stripped off of its unnecessary ingredients yet retaining all the flavors and taste, this version will make your taste testers and hungry eaters drool with every bite. I have nothing against butter but just don't feel like using so much saturated fat on a daily basis. I spell it as T.a.s.t.y and not as B.U.T.T.E.R :-) Try this awesome dal makhni and you will never order the loaded, greasy stuff in restaurants that tends to make you queasy in the stomach soon after you have paid for it.
What do you need to make Dal Makhni?
1 cup whole black urad dal
1/3 cup red kidney beans (use 1/4 cup if you like them to show up sparsely)
1 Tblsp oil
1/2 Tsp ghee/clarified butter
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1.5 inch piece of raw ginger
2 green chilies
2 cloves garlic (increase if you are a garlic lover)
2 large tomatoes (makes 3.5 cups when chunked)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (grating or mincing works well too)
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp garam masala powder
1/2 - 3/4 Tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp kasoori methi
chopped cilantro to garnish

How do you make Dal makhni?
  • Wash and soak both the beans in plenty of water over night.
  • Next morning, drain all the water, pick any dirt and pressure cook it with 3 cups of water for 15 minutes after the first whistle. The beans should be cooked soft and almost mashed. This is what gives it the creamy consistency.
  • Pound peeled ginger and green chilies to a coarse paste in a mortar & pestle. Peel and finely chop garlic.
  • Make a puree of the raw tomato chunks and keep it ready.
  • Heat oil+ghee in a heavy bottom pan, add the ginger & green chili paste, sauté for 30 seconds.
  • Add the chopped garlic and sauté until it turns light brown, about 30-45 seconds.
  • Add the finely chopped/minced/grated onion and fry for a couple of minutes until they sweat and turn soft. Do not brown the onions.
  • Add the tomato puree and let it come to a boil.
  • Add salt and red chili powder and continue to boil until the liquid evaporates and you see a nice, soft, goop in the pan - about 6-8 minutes on medium heat.
  • Mash a spoon full of cooked lentils (you can run it in your blender to make it smooth), add it to the pan along with the rest of the cooked lentils.
  • Once you see a couple of bubbles on top, add garam masala and mix it in.
  • Add milk and bring it to a slow boil - about 4-5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat further and cook for another 10 minutes until everything comes together into a creamy, sauce consistency.
  • Crush the kasoori methi between palms and sprinkle on the top.
  • Switch off and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with hot phulkas, naan or Makki ki roti.
  • If you are one of those young at heart AND young in body :-) enjoying excellent health and your diet regularly has butter, cream, ghee etc in it, go ahead and top this dal makhni with a dollop of butter while serving. But I can guarantee that the extra dose of saturated fat is not going to change this already yummy dish much further :-)
  • Black urad dal takes longer to cook than usual lentils, so soaking overnight helps cut the time down.
  • Homely Punjabi dal makhni adds 1/3 cup of chana dal to the above and also gives onion a skip. Try this variation if you like.
  • The secret to a deliciously creamy dal makhni is well cooked lentils and keeping them on the stove on low heat for a long time as the spices and seasoning work their magic. This is a perfect recipe to make in a slow cooker if you are a fan of that mode of cooking. 


Kaveri Venkatesh said...

Looks really delicious

NamsVeni Pothas said...

nice recipe with beautiful pictures. true mouth watering dish

Priya Suresh said...

Trust me this dal makhani is in my to do list, dunno when i gonna make this nutritious dal.. Loved the secret behind the delicious creamy dal makhani, will definitely keep it in my mind while making mine.

Kannada Cuisine said...

I love dal makhani... i can eat them by the bowl fulls without rice/roti!