There are a few places where this dish is found on the menu, around our way, it almost always features with the caveat that you have to order a day ahead. A dal makhani is a perfect example of Indian meat-free food.
For a while, I was mystified by the need to order this dish 24 hours before hand, wondering why they ‘don’t just soak the lentils in good time’ and we invariably forgot to mention, when booking, that we would like this one, so have lived in disappointment quite a few times. Eventually it was established, when Rocket found a recipe he would try, that it takes some considerable time in the making. That is not to say it’s difficult or that you need to slave over a hot stove for hours ( who has a stove these days…?) more that there is, of course, the pre-soaking which must be overnight, but then the cooking time is pretty long, unless that is, you have a pressure cooker. Don’t panic if you don’t possess such a thing, you can do it without. It just takes a while for the magic beans to bubble away.
There is a romance to simple food…
My mind wanders back to India as I write…back to the tale.
I’m not afraid to confess that I am frightened of pressure cookers, I had never used one until the overwhelming desire for dal makhani struck me, and if I’m really honest, I do leave the technical operation of it to Rocket, his father having been something of an expert in use of said contraption. The dog and I retreat to safer climbs while it’s screaching away. All that said, it means you can achieve the wonderment of these black and buttery lentils in a relatively short time. You finish the dish with a tarka, foamy sizzling butter, infused with Kashmiri chilli’s and spices…it makes the whole thing sing.
I will conceed that this dish won’t win any beauty contests, and you may look on wondering why I am extolling it so keenly. I can assure you that this dal along with some good bread (here we used some paratha’s from the frozen section in the supermarket – they are superb) is one of the most delicious things you might ever consume..that’s my opinion, correct me if your feelings are to the contrary.
A celebratory offering, I think I’m right in saying it originated in the punjab. We’ve made this many times and the recipe we like best comes from a lady called Manjula, she has a website here http://www.manjulaskitchen.com/dal-makhani/- and although we have come to tweak it slightly, it is more or less Manjula’s recipe.
The Christmas period is groaning with meat heavy recipes, so why not try this tasty meatfree dish. Please do comment below.