Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dal Makhani

Aside from tigers and yoga, one of the main reasons Jason and I decided to visit India was the food. When we began planning our vacation, I was adhering to a gluten, dairy, and soy free diet for health reasons. We had originally envisioned a trip to France because I was dying to eat the food! But then Jason brilliantly pointed out that I would be able to eat neither the pastries nor the cheese. Well, that would just not do. So we began to brainstorm places that would more easily accommodate my dietary restrictions. India made the short list, and once Jason figured out there were tigers to be seen, our destination quickly decided.

While Jason was figuring out where to stay, I was learning about the food! I bought an Indian cookbook and tried to make a couple of dishes before we departed on our adventure. When I got back, I opened it up to see if I could replicate any of the dishes we'd had. It was then that I realized I'd purchased a book that focused on southern Indian recipes, and because we were in northern India, there was next to nothing I recognized. After perusing the internet, I found several helpful sites to guide me along the way (Manjula's Kitchen + A Life (Time) of Cooking were two of my favorites). It's taken me a number of tries to get my Indian cooking to taste like the dishes we had in India, but tonight I actually got it right. Both Jason and I thought it tasted downright authentic. It isn't a particularly difficult recipe to make, though it does require spices you may not already have in your kitchen. While I was able to find most of them at Whole Foods, I did have to go to the local Indian grocery store to find mango powder and asafetida. The first time I attempted to make Dal Makani, I left those spices out and it just wasn't the same. Go ahead and make the $4 investment! If you do make it, I'd love to know what you think.

Dal Makhani
Kelley Gondring

In a large bowl, soak for at least 24 hours:
3/4 cup dried urad dal (black lentils)
1/4 cup dried red kidney beans
1/4 cup dried garbanzo beans

Periodically drain the water, rinse the lentils and beans, and refill with new water. If you plan on using canned beans instead of dry beans, you don't need to soak them.

Either by hand or using a food processor, mince:
1 green pepper
2 red chili peppers
1/2 inch piece of ginger

In a medium pot, add:
4 cups water
Add the lentil/bean mixture along with the minced peppers and ginger to the pot. Bring to a simmer and let cook until there is no longer standing water. Stir occasionally and adjust the heat to prevent burning on the bottom. This will take about an hour and fifteen minutes. I kept the lid on for the first forty-five minutes and removed it for the last half hour.

Reduce heat and add:
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon mango powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
dash of asafetida

Using the back of a spoon or a potato masher (which is what I did), smash the beans and lentils so that they are a bit mushy. Cook on low heat for a couple of minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat:
1/4 cup clarified butter

Once the butter is hot, add:
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

Cook for 30-60 seconds, stirring constantly to prevent the seeds from burning. Immediately add to the dal and stir until thoroughly combined.

Serve with white rice and garlic naan.

Eat up!

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