A late discovery - rich and creamy Dal Makhni

Last weekend after ages (at least it seemed like that), I went out with a friend to see the latest Bollywood flick "No One Killed Jessica". Yes after a kid, such simple pleasures becomes rare, especially if you don't have a trustworthy caretaker. The catalyst for doing so was the fact that within a fortnight I'm moving out of the country. And when we - me and my friend cum neighbour left our kids with their dads, it was a very comfortable setting. We went after lunch, when the kids have their afternoon naps and were almost back when they got up. Yes it was so simple - that we were just left wondering why we didn't do it before.

Ironically that's true with many things we feel we should have done (see, read, eat or meet) in life before. So though the more romantic thing would be to talk about why I didn't meet my husband before, I would let the tummy overtake the heart and talk about what dish I discovered a little late. And one of the favourite 'dals' of North India - Dal Makhni - is one such dish. Though "dal- chawal" has been the most consistent factor of my life, beating my friends by much greater margins. Yet it was always "Arhar", "Chana" and "Masoor" dal - in that order that we ate. It was only when I moved to Dilli for college that I discovered the city's obsession with this "maa ki daal". But you know just like I never rememeber roads, till I drive, similarly I never thought or knew much about a dish till I started cooking. So much so that I thought, that this was made with kali masoor dal till few years back. And my amusement knew no bound when a South Indian friend of mine asked me the same question - which dal is ued in Dal Makhni?? Surely life comes a full circle.

Here's celebrating the winters of Dilli (Delhi) with buttery - creamy Dal Makhni. And also thrilled at sending this as my first (since this blog is just few days old) entry to the event "Winter Warmers" hosted by The Veggie Hut.

Dal Makhni Recipe
Saboot Urad Dal - 1 cup (Soaked for 6-8 hours)
Chana Dal - 1 tbsp (Soaked for 6-8 hours)
Rajma - 1 1/2 tbsp (Soaked for 10-12 hours)
Tomatoes - 2 medium - chopped
Tomato paste/puree - 2 tbsp
Black cardamom - 1
Cinnamon - 1 small piece
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Salt - As per taste
Sugar - pinch
Red Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Butter/ Refined oil/ Mix of both - 2 tbsp
Fresh Ginger grated - 2 tsp
Cream/ Milk / Mix - 2 tbsp
Kasuri methi - 1/4 tsp

Wash and soak all three lentils overnight. Drain and chnage water till water runs clean and pressure cook with 2 1/2 cups water, salt, black cardamom and cinnamon for 5-6 whistles on medium high.
Wait till pressure is released and enusre that the rajma is well cooked.
Now heat oil in deep bottomed pan. Splutter cumin seeds. Add chopped tomatoes and spices with a pinch of salt (Salt fastens cooking of spices) for 2-3 mins. Add ginger and saute till well cooked. Now add tomato paste and sugar.
Add cooked dal and mix well, mashing with the back of the ladle. Add little water if it gets very thick. Now put it on slow heat for 20-30 mins. The secret of this dal lies in lsow cooking, which we have almost discarded by using pressure cooker (can't help that part). So now salvage it by simmering it. Its in this part that the dal will show its true colors, which should be on deeper red side.
Adjust seasoning as per liking. And now add 2-3 tsp butter and cream/milk and mix well. I usually add it in portions to adjust it as per my liking. Some like it creamy, some buttey and some neither- so your dal has to be your way.
Flavour it further by adding kasuri methi -by crushing it between finger tips to release the flavours.
Add a "finishing touch" of cream or butter before serving hot with nan or rice.


Adding chana dal is a practice not followed by all, just makes it little nuttier, so your choice.
A lot of people also add chopped onion and garlic to it. So can try with that as well.
To make it healthier, you can simply omit the butter and cream part. But that doesn't mean you make it with extra virgin olive oil!

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