Contrary to popular belief, vegetarian food, especially Indian vegetarian food, has a large variety and is a rich source of plant-based protein sources. What we lack in our diet by avoiding non-vegetarian foods, we make up by eating legumes and pulses. India has over 60,000 varieties of legumes and pulses and hundreds if not thousands of recipes to cook and consume. These legumes and pulses are a beautiful balance of protein and fibre and are powerhouses of vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, folate, magnesium, potassium, etc., along with many other micronutrients.
Toor daal, chana daal, moong daal, rajma, kala chana, kabuli chana, marata, lobhan, groundnuts are some of the most commonly found legumes and pulses in an average Indian pantry. What’s more interesting is there are several ways a single legume can be cooked or stored, such as moong or mung beans can be eaten whole after soaking it in water overnight, it can also be sprouted. Moong is also eaten as green split moong daal or even yellow split moong daal. Similarly, all other pulses are cooked and consumed in whole or split form.
Among the numerous pulses and legumes or daals, as we fondly call them, urad daal or black daal is extremely versatile. It contains over 25 grams of protein per 100 grams of raw urad beans, making it one of the richest vegetarian source of protein.
When one thinks of the black dal recipe, the first thing that comes to mind is South Indian recipes. Idly, dosa, pessariattu, handvo, etc., are some of the most famous black dal recipes. However, a very popular and probably one of the most sought after North Indian recipes, the legendary daal makhani recipe is made using whole urad dal.
Much like other daal recipes, our country has a variety of daal makhani recipes. Whole urad dal, tomato, tomato puree, and ginger garlic paste are the main dal makhani ingredients. It also needs a few whole spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and red chilli. Dal makhani ingredients also include ground red chilli powder, garam masala and jeera powder, along with cow milk. Unlike other makhani recipes that require a lot of butter, this healthy and light recipe of dal makhni gets its creamy texture from cow milk.
Despite the elaborate list, time and patience are the most important daal makhani ingredients. The whole urad dal is first thoroughly washed and soaked in salted water overnight or for at least 8-10 hours. Once the dal is properly soaked, it is cooked in a cooker vessel with green cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves and salt, for 3-4 whistles. Traditionally chefs did not use a cooker but cooked the whole urad daal in an open pan with water for numerous hours. This is why it took over 36 hours to make daal makhani. But these days, chefs use the cooker for the sake of convenience and to save some time.
You can use homemade or store-bought tomato puree for this dal makhani ki recipe. Some recipes of dal makhani require tempering or tadka, while others don’t. If you want to temper your daal makhani in a thick bottom pan, add oil or butter, and sauté some garlic and chilli paste in it. Once this is cooked, add the tomato puree to this pan and mix everything together. Add jeera powder, garam masala and red chilli powder. Finally, add the cooked daal and cook on a slow flame until the dal becomes mushy.
There are two things that make daal makhani, makhani as the name suggests makhan or butter and the whole black dal itself. When soaked and cooked properly, the whole urad dal splits and loses its starch; this is the main reason behind daal makhani’s, makhni, unique creamy texture and taste. The addition of butter enhances these creamy textures and uplifts the taste. However, calorie-conscious people can skip adding a lot of butter and replace it with milk, which keeps it light but gives the dal makhani ki recipe its trademark rich taste. Like in any other makhani recipe, such as butter chicken, adding in a tablespoon or two of heavy cream also gives dal makhani, a makhani and rich flavour, without actually adding heaps of butter.
Daal makhani is served hot and tastes best with Amritsari Kulcha
or Garlic Naan
, but you can also enjoy it with Jeera Rice
on a busy day. If you don’t have a fancy tandoor at your home, you can also make a garlic naan on the stove or in your oven. The Daal makhani recipe takes a very long time to make, but it also freezes very well, making it an ideal candidate to double up the recipe and freeze some later. So next time, if you are in a mood to eat some dal makhani on a busy weekday, you don’t have to order it in or kill your mood, just thaw some of your frozen dal makhani and enjoy it with some piping hot jeera rice. If you don’t like to freeze your food but have some leftover daal makhani, you can knead some whole wheat flour into it and make extremely delicious Dal Parantha
Like many other pulses and legumes with several different recipes, daal makhani can be made in various ways. Often, it is cooked with another pulse, which increases its nutritional value while imparting more taste. When whole black dal is cooked with split chana dal, the resultant is called Amritsari Dal
, which is often served in Gurudwaras in Punjab. One variation of the daal makhani recipe requires cooking it with rajma, while there is another variant which is purely made using cooked urad daal, salt, butter and tomato puree.
Dal makhani can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner, and it is served as a main course. Even though it takes a long time to make the dal makhni recipe, it requires very little active time. This makes it an ideal recipe to make on the weekend you plan on staying at home or the day you are working from home but can step away from work for a few minutes. Making daal makhani recipe at home is actually also a great way to impress your friends and guests, who would think that you spent hours in your kitchen, perfecting the recipe, but in fact, now that you know all the secrets of making a recipe of dal makhni, you can quickly make it at home and leave everyone in awe.