Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dal Makhni V3

I made this version of Dal Makhni for a potluck - hence the 4 cups of dal measurement. I am typing this from work for a friend and have to yet modify the measurements for a family of 4, but halving all the measurements will reduce the portion for a family of 6 adults (This dal is pretty heavy to consume, so it can easily serve 6).

The dal was quite a hit at the potluck and got rave reviews...I felt very humbled. The dal has a wonderful creamy texture from the milk and the butter. The masalas are minimal since dal makhni is traditionally a very simple dal. There's really no special tricks except the BUTTER! The bay leaf adds a warm note of spice that is balanced well by the garam masala to round up the flavors and bring everything together. The potluck I cooked for was Diwali so it was fitting that the dal was this rich and flavorful.

Whole black gram (sabut urad)  - 2 cups
Red kidney beans (rajma) – 1.5 cups
Chana Dal – ½ cup
Milk – 4 tbsp
Green Chillies – 6 nos
Garlic – 4 cloves
Ginger – 2 inch piece
Butter – 6 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp tablespoon
Cumin – 4 tsp
Bay leaf – 1 large
Onions – 1 large or 2 medium
Red chilli powder 4 tsp  
Garam masala – 2 tsp
Tomatoes – 4 medium

1. Mix all the dals together and wash in water until the water runs clear. Soak the dals overnight (at least 10 to 12 hrs).
2. Pressure cook the dals with twice the amount of water (8 cups) and 1 tsp of oil for upto 2 whistles. Then set the pressure cooker on LOW for 20 mins. Switch off and wait until the pressure releases and it’s safe to open the cooker.
3. Once the pressure is released, open the cooker and check the consistency of the dal. The kidney beans and channa dal should be ‘mashable’ between your thumb and index finger. If yes, move to the next step. If not, put the lid back on and cook for one more whistle and LOW on 15 mins.
4. Add the milk to the cooked dal and mash with the back of a spoon or ladle. You can also use a potato masher, but be careful NOT to mash it to a complete pulp.
5. Take the stems off of the green chillies, peel the garlic cloves and remove the skin of the ginger. Throw them into a blender (like a magic bullet) and pulse to a coarse consistency. Do NOT blend into a paste.
6. Chop the onions finely and puree the tomatoes to a pulp.
7. Take a thick bottomed vessel and set the heat to HIGH. Add 4 tbsp of butter and oil and wait until it’s heated.
8. Splutter the cumin and add the bay leaf, wait for 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn the bay leaf. Then add the chopped onions. Fry for a minute, then add the chilli-garlic-ginder paste and sauté until the onions are nice and transparent or until the raw smell of the ginger and garlic is gone. Add a pinch of salt to keep the onions from burning.
9. Now add the red chilli powder and the garam masala and fry for 2 mins. Be careful not to burn the masalas. Add 1 tsp of oil and ¼ tsp salt if you feel that the masala is burning.
10. Now add the tomato puree and cook on MEDIUM until the oil separates. Cover loosely with a lid to prevent the puree from spluttering out of the vessel. The tomatoes would take at least 15 mins to fully cook and release the fat.
11. Once the tomato is cooked, add the dal+milk mixture and mix well. Taste for salt and add as needed. Add water as needed at this stage until you get to your desired consistency. Dal Makhni should be semi-solid and not completely watery.
12. Set the dal to high and add 1 tbsp of butter. After the dal comes to a boil, set on MEDIUM/LOW and cook covered with a lid for 15 mins.
13. Switch off and remove from the flame. Add the final 1 tbsp of butter and chopped coriander (optional).

Although other versions call for adding CREAM, traditional dal makhni only needs butter. Cream is a nice way to make it richer, but not necessary.
Using good quality butter really helps to bring out the taste. I have not tried this recipe with margarine or other butter substitutes.
This dal is pretty heavy on the constitution, be sure to portion control during your meal J


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