Poke around my burgeoning list of recipes and you may notice that outright lack of knowledge and unpronounceableness haven’t deterred me in the least from trying out new foods. In keeping with the spirit of blissful ignorance, here are a handful of things I know about dal makhani, a slow-cooked lentil stew with black gram and red kidney beans.
- Julie Sahni calls it “The most exquisite of dal preparations.”
- A triple batch fits perfectly in a 7-quart dutch oven. It’s that good.
- Dal makhani is easy to prepare but takes about 8 hours to cook, much like simmering stock, which is another good reason to make a triple batch. It will be worth it.
- It has a consistency similar to chili. Even if I’m not vegetarian, I’d choose a bowl of dal makhani over chili any day.
- Calling dal makhani “buttered” is a mild understatement. See recipe below.
Dal Makhani (Kali Dal)
Buttered Black Gram and Red Kidney Beans
makes 8 servings
Dal makhani ingredients: coriander seeds, sabut urad dal, and cardamom pods
For Soaking the Beans:
1 cup dried whole black gram beans (sabut urad dal or kali dal), about 1/2 pound
2 tablespoons dried red kidney beans
4 cups of water
For Cooking the Beans
1 cup onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ginger root, finely chopped
3/4 cup fresh tomatoes or 1/2 cup canned drained tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 tablespoons ghee or 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
For the Tarka (Perfumed Butter):
4 tablespoons ghee or light vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh cilantro / coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
To Clean and Soak the Beans:
On a half-sheet pan or large serving platter, spread out the black gram beans and kidney beans. Pick out foreign objects such as small pebbles and sticks. In a strainer, wash under cold running water for a few minutes or until the water runs clear.
Place the black gram beans and red kidney beans in a heavy pan, preferably an enameled cast iron dutch oven. Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the beans soak while covered for about 2 hours.
The soaking liquid will be used to cook the beans so do not drain and discard it.
To Cook the Beans:
Add all of the ingredients for cooking the beans to the pot containing the soaking liquid and beans. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Simmer with the lid slightly ajar for about 5 hours. If feasible, stir the beans gently every half hour.
Take about 2 to 3 cups of the cooked beans from the pan and puree in a blender or food processor. Return the pureed beans to the pot. This gives dal makhani a smoother and creamier consistency.
Keep the dal makhani simmering over low heat while you prepare the tarka (perfumed butter).
Dal makhani after slow-cooking for 5 hours.
To Prepare the Tarka (Perfumed Butter):
Heat the ghee or oil over medium-high heat in a small skillet. When it is very hot, add the cumin seeds and cook until it turns dark brown, about 10 seconds. Add the onions and cook while stirring continuously until light brown, about 10 minutes. Pour the tarka over the warm cooked beans.
Dal makhani with onion and cumin seed tarka.
Storage and Reheating:
Dal makhani keeps in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and also freezes well. Defrost thoroughly before reheating over low heat.
Links Related to Dal Makhani / Kali Dal:
- Maa di Dal from Jai and Bee of Jugalbandi
- Dal Makhani, Oberoi Style from Aum of A Life (Time) of Cooking
- Tried and tasted Dal Makhani from Yasmeen of Health Nut
- Another recipe variation from Aayi’s Recipes
- A cooking video from Manjula’s Kitchen