Thursday, 24 April 2014

Dal Maharani (Lentils Sauteed In Butter and Rich Spices Fit For An Empress)

This dish is known by other names, e.g. dal makhani (butter lentils), kaali dal (black lentils), but it refers to the same thing. It is very popular in North Indian restaurants and goes well with naan and other flatbreads. Sometimes, it can be great with rice. The trick is to make this rich and spicy.

I dedicate this recipe to my cousin, Natasha, whose birthday falls on 16th August. She turns 11 years old this year.

1/2 cup split black gram
1/2 cup kidney beans (rajma)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of red chilli powder
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1-2 tomatoes (large)
1-2 tbsp tomato ketchup
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, finely chopped
1/2 tsp coriander powder (dhania)
1/2 tsp kasuri methi powder (crushed fenugreek leaves)-optional
1/4 tsp red chilli powder to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 cup heavy cream to serve
1 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped for garnish

* Anything indicated in bold is meant to be washed and soaked overnight before use

1. Make a paste of ginger and garlic. Keep aside. Boil the dal in a pressure cooker with a little salt and chilli powder. Make a puree of tomato ketchup and normal tomatoes using a blender, or chop the tomatoes (the chopping is better because it gives it a redness).
2. Heat butter and add cumin seeds. Saute for a while, before adding onion and ginger-garlic paste.
3. Take some of the dal and mash it a little bit.
4. Cook this well till garlic browns a little and onions are cooked but still translucent. Add tomato puree and saute till tomato browns a lot, and there is no raw fragrance left.
5. Season with coriander powder and red chilli powder. Add the both the mashed and non-mashed dal into the mixture.
6. Mix everything very well together. Make sure the water does not separate from the dal. Season with salt to taste and garam masala.
7. Before serving, top with heavy cream and coriander leaves for garnish.
8. Serve hot with any roti (Indian flatbread) or rice.

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