Daal Makhani (Lentils cooked in a creamy sauce)

February 16th, 2010

Daal Makhani is a favorite lentil delicacy from Punjab, North India. Any Indian full course dinner or lunch must have some type of lentil in the menu. Lentils are cooked into a spicy gravy and are used as a dipping for flatbreads or to spread over rice. Lentils can also be soaked and blended into a puree and fried as appetizers. In South India lentils are soaked, ground and mixed with rice powder to make crepes. These crepes are called Dosas or they may be filled with spicy potato filling and rolled into Masala Dosas or spicy crepes. Lentils are an excellent source of protein and each state in India and each village cooks them in their own special way. When you visit an Indian Grocery store you will see many different varieties of the lentil. These lentils are also available at Asian or Far East markets. Today’s lentil recipe will use three different types of lentils.

1 Cup Urad Daal whole or Kali Daal or Black Lentils whole and not split available at Indian Groceries

½ Cup Split Mung Bean Daal also available at Indian Grocery stores

½ Cup Chana Daal or split Chickpea Lentils available at Indian or Asian Grocery stores

1 Tsp. Turmeric Powder

½ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper Powder

1 Tsp. Whole Cumin Seeds

2 or 3 Whole dried Cayenne Peppers

1 Cup Onions chopped fine

1 Tbs. Fresh Ginger peeled and grated

2 or 3 Cloves of Garlic peeled and grated

1 Cup Tomato Paste or 1½ Cups fresh Tomatoes chopped

1 Tbs. Jalapenos or any hot Green Chilies like Serranos or Thai Hot chopped

1 Cup Cilantro chopped

1 Tbs. Garam Masala Punjab Style recipe included

1 Cup Whipping Cream for garnish

1 Tbs. Salt or to taste

1 Tsp. Sugar

5 Tbs. Ghee or clarified Butter. You can get this at Vitamin Cottage or Indian Groceries or make your own by simmering unsalted butter till the milk solids separate and then strain it out.

6 Cups Water (you may need more)

First take six cups of water in a big pot and bring it to a boil. Wash all the lentils together and put it to the boiling water. Add the turmeric and cayenne pepper powders in the pot. Let it simmer in medium or medium low heat for about forty five minutes to an hour until the lentils almost falls apart. You might need more water if the lentils are not cooked and the water is all gone. With a hand blender or egg beater blend the lentil to a smooth paste. Add salt and sugar and set it aside.

In a pot or frying pan heat four tablespoons of ghee and add the whole cumin seeds and whole cayenne peppers. When they start popping add the onions and start frying. After the onions are light brown, add the garlic and the ginger paste and after about one minute put in the tomato paste. Fry this for a little bit till the liquid goes away, then mix this spice mixture with the blended daal or lentil.

Bring the whole thing to a boil and simmer for about fifteen minutes for all the flavors to develop and mix together. Add Garam Masala, the rest of the ghee and the hot green chilies. Serve hot in bowls with some cilantro and a scoop of whipping cream as garnish on top. Enjoy! The lentil mixture in this dish varies from chef to chef.

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