Dal Makhni

Dal Makni has to be one of THE famous dish from the Indian cuisine….it literally translates to buttered lentils and it actually does live up to its name. Black lentils soaked in water overnight and slow cooked in a delicious tomato gravy enhanced with cream is a perfect main dish for any Indian themed dinner or lunch. The lentils absorb the aroma and flavor of the spices while being slow cooked and turn a beautiful shade of brownish red.

Although its optional but its nice to mix the black lentils (whole urad dal) with a small amount of red kidney beans  (rajma) and yellow gram lentil (chana dal) for this preparation..its just this combination of flavor that sort works really well together

There is a long list of spices that goes into this preparation, but a cool tip in case you have an Indian store around where you live is to get a spice mix that’s tailored for Dal Makhni. I strongly recommend “MDH Dal Makhni Masala” but any other brand will do too. It’s better to get the mix cause otherwise you will have to buy each spice separately and you may or may not find all of the spices- not to mention that its going to be more expensive to invest in all these spices that you might land up not using frequently…unless you make Indian food very often.

It pairs really well with any kind of Indian bread- naan, rumali roti, parantha, chapati etc. but I also really like it with plain basmati rice.

Serves 3 to 5 
Cooking time 20 min
Slow cooks for 30 to 45 min

Things you will need:
1 cup black lentils (whole urad dal)
1/4 cup gram lentil (chana dal)
1/4 red kidney beans (rajma)
3 medium size tomatoes (pureed in a blender)
3 medium red onion (pureed in a blender)
1/4 cup tomato puree
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 cup cream
3 tbs clarified butter (ghee) or butter

2 tsp garam masala
2 tbs dal makhni masala
2 tbs cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
2 green cardamom
1 black cardamom (optional)
2 tsp sugar

Soak the lentils and the kidney beans in water overnight and boil with 2 glasses of water with salt, a teaspoon of ghee and a teaspoon of garam masala till the lentils are cooked. I used a pressure cooker for this which speeds up the whole process but you can also make it in a slow cooker, or just cook it in a pan- covered…it will take roughly 2 hrs. Also if you are making it in a pan..either use canned kidney beans or just skip it completely cause it will take a lot longer to cook than the lentils.

In a wok or a deep pan- over medium high heat the ghee and add cinnamon and cardamom (both kind) and heat for about 20 sec. Add onion puree and ginger garlic paste and cook till the onions turn pink- about 12 to 15 min. Add the spices when the onions are almost done- cumin, coriander, dal makhni masala and the rest of garam masala. Stir till well incorporated….for about 30 seconds. Add the tomato puree, salt and sugar and cook till the tomatoes are cooked through and it all forms a thick paste. When you start seeing little oil on the sides of the tomato onion mixture/paste that’s when you know that the tomatoes are cook through. Add tomato puree and cook for another min. Now add the boiled lentils and bay leaves and mix everything together..add water if yo feel the need. Let it all simmer on low for about 30 min…keep stirring in between. Add cream at the end and turn the heat off. Leave it for about an hour before serving so that flavors marinate with each other perfectly. Serve it hot over rice or with your favorite kind of Indian bread.

To cut down the cooking time, you can boil the lentils and store it in the refrigerator and make it when you want it.
You can also prepare the onion tomato mixture/paste with the spices and store that as well..then all you do is mix it with the boiled lentils and cook it for about 20 min and add cream.
Although I feel if you are taking the time to make this special dish- then its best to make everything fresh…cause nothing can beat that flavor!