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Dal Makhani


nakji
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I picked up a bag of black dal at my local grocery and want to make dal makhani with it. We have a recipe here, but I'm wondering if anyone else makes this regularly, and what method you use?

Do you soak for eight hours, then cook for several more hours? Or do you just cook without soaking the dal?

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Dal makhani is usually made with whole urad dal (they are small mung bean shaped beans but black in colour) and since whole beans can take a while to cook, I do usually soak them for a while, but I don't always remember and have got away with not doing it in the past. The length of time it takes your beans to cook will depend on how hold they are, and you will want them nice and soft and creamy for this dish.

I never use a pressure cooker to cook this dish, as I am a bit scared of pressure cookers, so I cannot comment on the recipe on that thread you linked to.

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  • 1 month later...

Erin,

I regularly cook pinto & pea beans without soaking in my crock-pot. I have not done this dal without soaking, but have made makhani many times; call me hidebound! My point is that if dry pinto & pea beans become silky smooth from their dry state, why will not urad? BTW, I find the texture of the two whole beans mentioned far superior to rajma, which are red kidney beans. Even PINK kidney beans are much tastier, for my tastebuds at least, in this or any other Indian dish. I go through quite a lot every month.

In a tested recipe, a friend at another site takes whole urad, soaks overnight [you decide how long!] enough water in slow cooker, be it clay/sandy pot on the stove or an electric appliance, for a thick puree, cook very slow, with some rich milk & 4oz butter per 1/2 lb. She suggests adding 2 tablespoons cream & a little yoghurt 1/2 hour before the dal is done. Salt, of course.

She adapted this recipe from a famous cookbook created in the 1950s tailored for the Western reader,

CLASSIC COOKING FROM INDIA

by Dharam Jit Singh.

Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston (1956).

Another excellent title:

[The art of rice cookery

Dharam Jit Singh (Author)

Archer House (1963)]

There, it appears as a method for the split & hulled urad dal, the white form:

1/2 lb. white urad cleaned well, soaked overnight [use your own judgment when enough is enough!!] Drain well. Place in a crockpot or sandypot. Add 2 oz. butter, 2 tablespoons chopped (European) parsley [YES PARSLEY!!], 4 lightly crushed GREEN cardamoms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, a good pinch asafoetida [if you have it], a few chopped mint leaves and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Mix well. Add just enough water to cover. Mix again to distribute spices.

POACH, instructs SinghSaheb using lowest possible heat. "Moisten lightly as often as necessary, but do not inundate with water. Test by extracting a few grains from the centre with a perforated spoon. When these are tender but whole (like rice grains) the lentils are done. If desired add 6 tablespoons melted butter and some chopped chives. Serve hot."

NOTE: You are to follow the SAME spicing with the whole urad dal, but increase the liquid, poaching in milk + water, upping the butter quotient, adding yoghurt & cream just before the finish. That gives you dal makhAni, makhan meaning BUTTER!! So you cannot have DAL MAKHANI without its eponymous ingredient!

The WHITE VERSION above is called KHARA MAH or MAHN DAL, whole or entire urad dal, i.e, dal cooked to leave the grains entire, or dry-cooked, not dissolved into liquid.

Urad = maasha, mAsha, in Sanskrit, becomes MAH, nasalized to MAHN in Punjabi.

You can go here

http://www.anothersubcontinent.com/forums/lofiversion/index.php?t1997.html

to see the person from whom I took this recipe and her modifications.

RE: Pressure Cookers. Pressure cookers cook dals soft but the texture of long slow cooking is missing. Pressure cooking completely destroys or at least attenuates certain spice/aromatic flavors or converts them to a steamy version. You can cook red lentils on the stove, in a crockpot or a PC, and distinctly taste the differences in each. PCs have their sterling and utilitarian virtues, but dal makhani is not a dish for this device. In fact, a clay pot, nestled in the embers of a wood fire, overnight, offers the incomparable true taste.

The same may be said of tomatoes or eggplant rubbed with oil and roasted in the ashes of a more active fire, while cooking is proceeding. The correct temperature of the hot ash bakes the vegetables and induces hairline fissures that leak excess fluid which is absorbed by the ashy bed. This produces a roasted, smoky vegetable with concentrated flavors unlike any one can achieve on a comal, oven etc. Such vegetables are made into the real bhartas, salsas etc. Again, onions roasted in this fashion are to be ground for the cooked masalas of some south Indian gashi-type dishes. This ash-cooked technique is central to achieving the authentic flavors. The types of wood matters, straw fires or jute sticks won't do. Coconut husks & shells will, if supplemented by something more substantial. In my childhood, hardwoods like mango & jackfruit, among many others, were the usual fuel, along with Cajanus cajan stalks. Those days are so past!!

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RE: Pressure Cookers. Pressure cookers cook dals soft but the texture of long slow cooking is missing. Pressure cooking completely destroys or at least attenuates certain spice/aromatic flavors or converts them to a steamy version. You can cook red lentils on the stove, in a crockpot or a PC, and distinctly taste the differences in each. PCs have their sterling and utilitarian virtues, but dal makhani is not a dish for this device. In fact, a clay pot, nestled in the embers of a wood fire, overnight, offers the incomparable true taste.

I recently bought a pressure cooker because I wanted to make Dal Makhani. The recipe I found called for using one. I love having an excuse for buying more toys so that was all I needed.
BTW, I find the texture of the two whole beans mentioned far superior to rajma, which are red kidney beans. Even PINK kidney beans are much tastier, for my tastebuds at least, in this or any other Indian dish.
The recipe calls for rajma and I have to agree with you that they are not all that tasty. I thought it was because I bought the kidney beans from my local grocery store and they were old. I picked up rajma from an Indian grocery and though they were better, they still didn't have much flavor.

That said, I've made the recipe twice in the last month. Good to know it could taste even better.

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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Having chipped my teeth [yes, plural] on both Indian & US origin legumes, I have been trying to devise a way to eliminate this hazard. In India, rice & dal are spread on a flat surface and picked over grain by grain, transferred from a "dirty" side to a "cleaned" side. This used to be done as a leisure time activity, when chatting, gossiping, and necessary social time was in progress. Long thick, oiled tresses, wet after bathing, also HAD to be dried in the late-afternoon sun. So lots of NECESSARY activities were going on!! 3, 4, 5, or more at one time during this time, all nested together. No idleness at all, just a rest period in the afternoon. Those punctuated periods and lifestyle are not possible today!

Using a very large stainless steel mixing bowl, one might dump in a lb of beans or dal. After washing & scrubbing in several changes of water, fill up that BIG bowl with tepid water until the grains are well submerged. Agitate well. By careful handsful, transfer the legumes to another vessel. When you reach the very bottom, hopefully there will be so little dal left, that any STONES SETTLING DOWN BECAUSE OF THEIR HEAVIER WEIGHT, but difficult to see, will become more apparent to your now-soaked and more sensitive fingertips [+ eyes and questing mind].

Edited by v. gautam (log)
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NOTE: You are to follow the SAME spicing with the whole urad dal, but increase the liquid, poaching in milk + water, upping the butter quotient, adding yoghurt & cream just before the finish. That gives you dal makhAni, makhan meaning BUTTER!! So you cannot have DAL MAKHANI without its eponymous ingredient!

Ok, I have my dal soaking now. Would you say when I cook them should I go with a 1:1 ratio of milk to water?

And is it flat-leaf or curly-leaf parsley?

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You can try 2 water: 1 milk, depending on how rich the milk is,and then move up or down from there the next time. The reason for going easy is crockpots can do weird things to milk cooked for long in stews; initial caution is merited.

[OTOH, crockpots make extremely mellow lamb stock for Indian & Central Asian cooking: ginger,garlic, cassia, cardamom,meat,bones, onion, all get tamed down to an excellent broth]

I think dals too may not need all that long a soak; I have ound my dry beans, Goya brand,& others, to cook up silky smooth from the dry state in my 30 year old "crockpot" set at both low & high.

Frankly, flat or curly makes no difference. I think after 4-5 or more hours not much parsley flavor will survive, given the quantities prescribed. Who am I to gainsay experts?

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My milk's not great, to be honest. I don't have a crockpot, so I used a pot on a low gas flame. My dal so creamy but with a toothsome bite after about two hours' cooking. I added butter, and a couple of tablespoons each of cream and yogurt. Very nice. I forgot all rules about cooking pulses and added both salt AND tomatoes at the beginning of cooking, to no detrimental effect. Why is bean cookery so fraught?

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Whatever texture pleases you most. In north India, a soft, silken texture, with the small urad beans partially melted, and most whole yet very soft in their slightly mucilaginous way, interspersed with the pintos in their silken, NON-mucilaginous, toothsome glory, is the effect we are seeking.

A salad or salsa that includes fresh lime/lemon, chopped thai-type green chiles, onion/scallion, cilantro + coarse sea salt,crushed black is to be eaten with any Nan type bread, e.g. pita, even hot steamed bao. Add chopped cucumber and/or tomato to the salad for added zest.

Julienne fresh ginger served over the dal is another great idea, or served on the side, or served marinated in salt+ lemon or lime juice.

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Excellent suggestion. There's a beef soup place next to my work which makes wonderfully fresh naan bread in an oil drum; the perfect accompaniment.

Julienne fresh ginger served over the dal is another great idea, or served on the side, or served marinated in salt+ lemon or lime juice.

Ginger condiment! I have several lemons and stems of fresh ginger in the kitchen right now. I know what's for lunch.

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