dried whole black lentils
dried adzuki and/or kidney beans
2-inch knob of ginger, grated
cloves garlic, grated
large onion, finely diced
medium tomatoes, diced
chile powder (like Deggi Mirch)
heavy cream (or yogurt)
dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
Dal makhani is a popular Punjabi dish made from whole black lentils (sabut urad) and red kidney beans (rajmah) and/or adzuki beans. It’s cooked with butter (makhan) and cream (malai), which gives the finished dish a smooth, creamy texture. Given the addition of butter and cream, this dish has a rich mouthfeel, with a complex combination of dried and fresh spices and herbs, with just a hint of smokiness.
- Sort through your beans for any pebbles or debris. Rinse under cold water three or four times.
- Soak the lentils and beans, 8 hours or overnight. Rinse under cold water.
- Add the soaked lentils, beans, and 5 cups of water to a pot. Bring to a boil, decrease heat to a simmer and cook until the dal are tender, about 40 to 45 minutes.
- Heat the ghee in a heavy pot. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle and become fragrant, 1 minute.
- Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the grated ginger and garlic and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato and chile powder and cook until the tomato becomes soft, 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked dal to the pot. Season with salt. Simmer over low heat, stirring from time to time, until thick and creamy, about 30 minutes. If the dal becomes too thick, add a little more water. To make the dal extra creamy, remove ½ cup of the dal and some of the cooking liquid and process in a blender until smooth. Add the pureed dal back to the pot.
- Mix in the cream (or yogurt). Add the garam masala and dried fenugreek leaves.
- Ladle into bowls. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice, naan, paratha, or roti.
Dhungar Smoking Technique
- Heat a piece of charcoal over a stove top flame, turning occasionally, until red hot, about 10 minutes.
- Place the smoldering coal in a heat-proof bowl or hollowed-out onion and place it into the finished pot of dal. Pour a little oil (or ghee) over the hot coal.
- As soon as the coal starts to smoke, cover the pot with a lid.
- Keep covered for a few minutes or up to 15 minutes. The longer you keep it covered, the smokier the food becomes.
Linda Schneider is a home cook who is obsessed with good food and all things local. Follow her adventures at Wild Greens and Sardines.