Dal Makhani (Curried Lentils)

These are rich, buttery, aromatic curried lentils – a Punjabi recipe. They aren’t hard and they taste amazing. Well, a half-cup of cream will do that for a lot of things.

This came from a long-ago e-newsletter from Tarla Dalal. We made it last night. I just had the last of it for lunch, which tells you that it was good and also that the recipe doesn’t make my usual 2-gallon amount. I didn’t even manage to get a picture of it, which might be okay – this is one of those vegetarian things that tastes better than it presents.

It seems like I have made this before, but it’s never made it onto the site. It certainly deserves to. M. gives it high marks. This could be served alongside just about any other curry, with rice or bread.

You can use just about any type of lentils to make this dish. I used French green lentils, which are my favorite.

3/4 c. whole urad dal (black lentils) or other lentils
1/4 c. kidney beans, soaked overnight or quick-soaked for 1 hour
1 t. cumin seeds
2 green chilles, slit
1-in. stick cinnamon (dalchini)
6 whole cloves
6 whole cardamom pods
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
1/2 T. minced garlic
1/2 T. minced ginger
1/2 t. cayenne powder (or to taste)
1 t. turmeric powder
2 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped (fresh give a much better result than canned here)
1/2 cup cream (you can get away with 1/4 c. if you just can’t imagine using that much)
3 tablespoons butter
salt to taste
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped fine

If using a pressure cooker, combine the lentils and kidney beans and cover with water plus 1/2 in. Add salt to taste (normally I wouldn’t advocate salting beans beforehand, though it’s okay to do with lentils, and there are so few kidney beans in here that it’s not a big deal. Pressure cook for 20 minutes, and release pressure under running water.

Alternatively, place the same ingredients in a conventional pan, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender.

Heat the butter in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds crackle, add the green chilies, cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, onions, ginger and garlic and sauté till the onions begin to turn golden brown around the edges.

Add the cayenne powder, turmeric powder and tomato pulp and cook over medium heat until tomatoes have collapsed into a gravy.

Add the lentil and kidney bean mixture, water to thin if necessary, and salt if required and simmer for 10 minutes to combine flavors.

Add the cream and mix well. Stir in the cilantro and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings (or serves two hungry lentil-lovers.)