Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dal Makhani (Kali Dal)

Ever thought of a dish which you used to love as a kid / otherwise came across and as time passes you move places, see things, learn, watch and grow intellectually, that kid within you keeps searching for that taste that is registered in your mind, may it be "Maa ke haath ka so n so dish" or "Mirch Masala (name of the restaurant) ki Masala chaas" or some road side eatery dish. This happened to me when P and I had gone to Mauritius, it was the day before our departure from Mumbai to Mauritius and we were staying at Intercontinental, The Lalit, Mumbai, it was during our lovely lunch we had ordered Kali dal along with rice, paneer curry dish, garlic naan etc. I shall never forget the aroma and buttery texture of that dal which I felt at the very first spoonful of it, ever since then I have tried to hunt down the recipe for that perfect dal. So my quest landed me at this recipe which I found at one of the best blogs,  www.vegeyum.wordpress.com. The author has similar experience with dal and had got the recipe from one of the chefs at Oberoi Bangalore. So I decided to give it a try and check the results.
Going through the recipe I learnt it calls in for almost 100 gms of butter + 50 gms of ghee and 30 ml of cream, which I didn't have courage to pour in as you know its not good health wise, So I modified and adapted the recipe as per my needs. Though I have added more than usual amounts of butter and cream otherwise this recipe can't be called Dal "Makhani", which literally means buttery.
Well this recipe is a keeper, I should say its almost there in sense of my quest for that perfect kali dal. I shall be sticking to it for a long long time.

Soak over night/min 6 hours
1/2 cup whole urad dal / black lentils
1/4 cup Rajma / red kidney beans
1/4 cup Channa dal / Bengal gram dal

Pressure cook soaked grains along with
1 inch ginger peeled and grated
2–3 big garlic cloves
2-3 green chillies
salt to taste

Make sure that there isn't excessive water in dal, if so drain and reserve (just in case you need it). Roughly mash the cooked dal with ladle, but be careful not to be over zealous.

For tempering heat
2 tbs ghee in a seperate vessel and add
1/2 tsp methi seeds / fenugreek seeds and
1 tsp cumin seeds / jeera once they start to sputter add
3–4 big garlic cloves crushed and chopped along with
1/4 tsp asafoetida cook for 30 seconds and add
2 tbs tomato paste (diluted with 2-4 tbs of water) or 1/2 cup thick tomato puree (I added tomato paste as it gives that distinct red colour to dal, also add more if you prefer a tangy dal. P doesn't like much tangy taste in dal and veggies so I have adjusted the taste accordingly.)

Add this tempering mixture to the cooked dal, mix well. Add 1 tsp red chilli powder (I used kashmiri lal mirch), 3-5 tbs butter and 3-5 tbs cream. Bring dal to a boil and let it simmer gently for 20 minutes / till dal acquires a buttery texture.
Serve warm with jeera rice or plain steamed rice or enjoy it with roti, paratha or naan of your choice.

Tips: Add 1/2 tsp garam masala for that nice aroma. Also, best way to serve this dal in its full splendor is to serve it with a dollop of butter. :)


  1. It looks so yummy and buttery!! Have one question- when u pressure cook the daals did u add minced/crushed or paste of garlic and chillies? or should we finely chop them and add to the daals?

  2. thanks chaitali,
    dal tasted lovely buttery too. regarding ur question, yes we are suppose to add ginger, garlic and green chili during pressure cook process itself... and have to add more garlic (only) during tempering process along with tomato paste. Pressure cooking garlic etc with grains gives a nice aroma to dal.
    hope this solves ur confusion.

  3. Hey m going to cook it for dinner today..Ujj loves daal makhni but I had no idea about its preparation.Thankfully I found it in your blog.

    Btw what is the difference between tomato paste and puree? I make tomato puree but how can I make paste?

  4. awesome... such a simple recipe, or did u make it so simple:) .One more in my arsenal from your site for lunch.

    (got a little scared by the size of the butter cube i used..)LOL


  5. Thanks Ajay, this dish itself is very simple, it tastes best when cooked with simplicity. BTW a little indulgence wont hurt you once in a while :).
    Good Day.