They say that Dal Bukhara was made famous by the Bukhara Restaurant ITC Maurya Hotel in New Delhi, but it is definitely a Punjabi style dish. Trying to find the origins of the dish is difficult, with some claiming it was created by the restaurant, some saying it comes from Bukhara in Uzbekistan, and others claiming it is a Punjabi dish from the 1700’s. This article has some interesting insights into the origin of both Dal Makhani and Dal Bukhara. Whatever the origin, the chef at Bukhara most likely adapted an existing recipe to suit the sophistication of the restaurant.
Dal Bukhara is often compared to Dal Makhani, although the dishes are distinctly different with different spicing. It is made with whole urad that is black in colour because it is unhulled. Slow cooked, it makes a deliciously creamy dal, and in this recipe its flavour is heightened with tomatoes, ginger and garlic as well as other spices.
In my recipe I use a slow cooker to cook the lentils, and the deep taste and creamy texture are accentuated this way. In this way the dish does not rely on cream and butter for its texture. However they can be added – see the notes below the recipe for this variation. The lentils can also be cooked on the stove top – cook them until soft and then continue with the recipe.