January 03, 2023
Dal Makhani has become a staple dish on Indian restaurant menus for a very good reason - it's at once delicious, decadent, and filling. What's interesting is that I find many of my non-Indian friends still don't truly understand what they are eating. So, let's break it down. Dal is just a legume. Makhani means butter. So, buttery lentils. Typically, when we make this dish we use a combination of mostly whole Urad dal with the skin and some rajmah or red kidney beans. Urad is a black legume which is technically a bean but is often referred to as a lentil. If I described it completely accurately it would be a black bean - but then that would confuse it with the Mexican black bean. It's the black version of a legume that looks like the green moong bean. It's why I refer to it as dal, which is our general term for anything that grown in a pod - a pea, a bean, or a lentil. (even peanuts and fenugreek are legumes). True lentils are flat and round.
Urad dal is often to referred to the queen of dals in North Indian cuisine. We absolutely love it. It takes a very, very long time to cook and a ton of water, but once it does on a low flame, it is at once creamy and decadent. Make note of the 15 cups of water I used in this recipe - that is not a typo. We are proud to offer Urad dal in our line of products because it's very difficult to find in mainstream grocers. The ingredients absolutely matter when you want to make dishes correctly. Now you too can make delicious Dal Makhani for your own family and whip it up easily with our jarred Punjabi masala.
Stovetop: Dal Makhani, Buttery Black Dal Made with Our Punjabi Masala
Makes 8 cups
1 ½ cups sabut urad (whole, dried black dal with skin), picked over and washed
½ cup rajmah (dried red kidney beans), picked over and washed
1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
1 pinch hing (asafoetida) (optional)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick
1 cassia or bay leaf
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 cup Indian as Apple Pie Punjabi masala
1-4 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced
¼ cup unsalted tomato paste
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground (optional)
2 tablespoons kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), lightly hand crushed to release flavor
1 tablespoon salt
16 cups water, for cooking, divided
1/4 cup cream (dairy, or alternative like cashew)
1. Soak the urad dal and rajmah together in boiled, hot water for at least 2 hours or in room temperature water overnight. Drain and discard the water. Set aside. You’ll have 6 ½ cups soaked beans.
2. Heat a roomy pot over medium-high heat. Once warm, add the ghee or oil. One the oil is hot, add the hing (if using), cumin seeds, cinnamon, and bay leaf. Stir and cook for 1 minute until the seeds turn reddish brown.
3. Add the fenugreek seeds. Stir and cook for 30 seconds. Be careful not to overcook, as these seeds can get bitter.
4. Add the Punjabi masala, fresh chiles, and tomato paste. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat off.
5. Add the garam masala, ground cumin, ground coriander, red chile, cardamom (if using), kasoori methi, salt, urad dal/rajmah, and 15 cups of cooking water. Stir. This is not a typo – urad dal requires a lot of water and some moisture evaporates cooking on the stove. Trust me!
6. Turn the heat on and adjust to medium-high. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer partially covered for 2 hours. Continue to check back and stir in between so that nothing sticks. Add the additional 1 cup of water towards the end and cook until it just comes to a boil.
7. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaf or leave in for flavor and eat around them. All of the other spices are edible. Gently fold in the cream, stir, and serve with basmati rice or Indian bread like roti or naan.
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