The story of this Dal Makhani goes like this:
Some time ago in Bangalore, India, I had a Dal Makhani to die for. It was just a hotel room service meal ordered at a very busy at the time, yet it made me sink back into my couch with a wonderful smile on my face – as if I had transitioned and gone to Dal Heaven.
I rang through to the kitchen and asked for the recipe. Oh what hilarity that caused in the kitchen – much laughter and giggles, and simply hours later, I received a typed up recipe from the chef at the Oberoi in Bangalore. It is the most wondrous dish, full of butter and cream and takes some time, so a dish for special occasions.
Some years later I was in the local Indian Bazaar to stock up on the required lentils and beans. I knew that I needed 3 different types but could not recall them all. I asked the Indian man behind the counter if he could help me. “But of course madam. You need Kidney beans, channa dal and urad dal.”
Then he proceeded to write out his recipe from memory. Here it is. It is almost as good as the other recipe, but a lot simpler.
Indian Bazaar’s Dal Makhani
1 cups of urad dal
0.25 cups of chana dal
0.25 cups of red kidney beans
Soak the beans overnight.
Cook the beans until tender with 1 onion, 1 knob of ginger, 1 – 2 cloves of garlic, 2 dried red chillies (or to taste), all chopped finely. Don’t use too much chilli. You want a hot tang, but don’t want it to make it really hot.
Add some salt part way through cooking. Cook until well done and a little mushy. That is important, as the urad needs time to develop its creaminess and the kidney beans to be really soft. It may take 1.5 – 2 hours or so. Mash some of the beans on the side of the saucepan.
About 30 mins before the dish is cooked add about 2 tspns of garam masala and mix through.
When it is cooked, stir through 2 Tblspn tomato paste, the same amount of ghee or butter, 30 – 60 ml of cream and adjust the seasonings. Heat through, and stir through half a bunch of coriander, chopped. Serve with rice.
This dish also cooks extremely well in a slow cooker. Urad is particularly suited to this style of slow cooking.
The garam masala was not in the original recipe, but I think it needs it. Leave it out if you wish.
You can serve this as part of an Indian meal, but more and more these days I do Fusion Cooking – I could serve this with a salad of cucumber, tomato and onion, or perhaps cucumber and bean sprouts. Not much dressing on the salad, and certainly not too acidic. No vinegar – use lemon or lime and not much of it. Some fresh or wilted greens. A little rice.
I have cooked this dish really slowly on the stove top. The lowest flame possible, stirring every half hour or more, topping up with water as needed for 5’ish hours. This brings out the unctuousness of the urad dal and makes a wonderful dish.