Dal Makhani is a classic north Indian dish where the lentils are slowly simmered for hours in a very aromatic buttery, creamy tomato sauce. (Dal=Lentils Makhani: Makhan/Butter based). Rich, decadent and extremely detectable, this is a recipe to savor and treasure.
If you are the familiar with the popular dishes that 9 out of 10 Indian restaurants never fail to offer, Dal Makhani has to be one of them. This luxurious dish tops the favorite’s list among Indians and non Indians, esp. the vegetarian group. Every spoonful in the mouth is a sensational and slow burst of flavor and texture. Yes I am pretty passionate about the Dal Makhani! We eat it with naan, or rice or just by itself – well like a soup!
The outside is at last breathing spring! The little cardinal is back knocking on our window. Here is a snippet that we had recorded last year and it is happening at the exact same time! How amazing it is that the nature just knows, no clock, no predictions, no weather reports – the little birds who had been so silent for the past few months are chirping again. I love the quiet of the dark and the tiny tweets in the morning. The sky gradually lifts the dark veil and breaks out into vibrant red and pink hues and the warm sunlight has been gently touching our windows. My heart is already singing. Keeping my fingers crossed that the temperatures will not go back to freezing again.
With the frost of the air almost gone, we are getting active; being more outdoors, yard work, preparing for spring and summer plantings and entertaining. I had been planning to post the recipe for Dal Makhani for many months now, but every time I make I have not been taking any pictures; the day light is short and I do not have special lights for foodography. I did it this time.
I have given the link to how to make the Makhani Masala/ Butter based Tomato Cream Sauce I had posted before. This sauce is a must for this dish; you can make the sauce when you are cooking this or use the frozen one as I have done.
Notes: For the authentic flavor, DO NOT give the fenugreek seeds and the kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) a miss when you are preparing the Makhani Masala. The primary flavor of the dish comes from these spices/herbs.
Dal Makhani/Lentils Simmered in Creamy Tomato Sauce
Ingredients: (feeds about 6-8 as a meal/main dish)
- 1.75 cups black urad dal/maa ki dal
- 1/2 cup rajma/red kidney deans
- 2 tablespoons chana dal/split Bengal grams (Optional)
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 green cardamom
- 2 green chili pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1.5 tablespoons butter/ghee/oil
- 3 cups Makhani Masala/Butter based Tomato Cream Sauce (without the Cream) – ( a little more of the sauce will not make much difference)
- 4-5 cups warm water (more or less)
- 2 cups whole milk (or 3/4 cup cream)
Soak the lentils/beans (black urad, kidney beans and chana dal) over night. Wash them well and drain.
In a deep, thick bottomed pot/dutch oven heat the butter/oil/ghee. Add the cardamom, cumin seeds and the slit hot green chili peppers. When the seeds sizzle, add the onions and cook at medium heat till they are clear and soft. Add all of the drained lentils/beans, and salt; toss them together with the oil/ghee/butter and the spices and cook for about 5 minutes at medium to high heat.
Stir in the Makhani Masala/Butter Based Tomato Cream Sauce, toss everything together to be well combined; all the lentils/beans should be well coated with this sauce and simmer at medium heat for about 10 minutes while stirring once in a while.
Add the warm water to the pot, stir and cover; simmer at low heat till the beans are tender. This might take a couple of hours. For a quicker version use the pressure cooker to cook as I always do.
After the lentils/beans are tender, mash some of them with the back of a big spoon. Stir everything together in the pot. It should be thicker than a regular soup, but not dry and clumpy. The consistency should be such that it easily coats a big spoon and yet can be poured out. If there is too much water left, keep on simmering till this consistency is reached. If it gets too dry, add some more warm water and keep simmering. Cook for about 10 minutes after you have reached the right consistency.
Stir in the milk/cream in the pot and lower the heat, cover and cook for another 15 minutes.
Serve hot with Naan or Roti (or any Indian flat bread). Top with more butter/ghee/cream if you want.
I served the dal with Tawa Naan and Raita… one delicious heartwarming meal.
Note: Dal Makhani freezes pretty well. If you decide to freeze the extra, make sure that you DO NOT add the cream or milk. Freeze it right before you add the cream. When you need to use the frozen dal again, defrost and put it in a pan on stove top, simmer for a while and then add the cream/milk. Serve immediately.