Hi, Ray here again.
As regular readers of my blogs will confirm, I’ve long been a fan of dal (or daal, dahl or dhal). Dal is usually made from lentils or beans and is one of the tastiest vegetarian meals around (if you leave out the cream or yogurt that sometimes feature in the recipes then they are also vegan).
A few weeks ago I went to my local curry house with Wendy and she chose the dal makhani from the menu. I must admit that I’d never eaten dal makhani myself and I tried a couple of mouthfuls from Wendy’s plate. It was delicious.
There was no dal makhani recipe on the Curry Focus website and so I looked through the recipes that I had received that were waiting to go onto the website (I have a lot of recipes to add to the website but never seem to find the time to clear the backlog before more recipes appear). And there was indeed a recipe waiting to go onto the website and so I formatted it in the Curry Focus style and published it. In fact, there were two recipes and I published both of them.
I bought the red kidney beans and urad dal from my local Indian food shop and Saturday evening saw me picking through the beans and dal looking for little stones and grit (and any other foreign objects) to discard. You do need to do this. I picked out 6 little stones from the dal and these could cause a bit of damage if bitten whilst eating. The red kidney beans were OK. I put the beans and dal into bowls of water and left them to soak. They soaked for about 20 hours before I drained them on Sunday afternoon. Note that is extremely important that you soak the red kidney beans for at least 6 hours because, believe it or not, dried red kidney beans can be toxic.
Preparing the other ingredients is really easy because there are only 4 ingredients needed for the long cooking, plus water. And so I started the cooking over an hour and a half before the dinner guests were due. The water came to a boil and I turned down the heat until a gentle simmer was underway. Most of the rest of the cooking time consisted of wandering into the kitchen every 15 minutes and giving the dal a stir. Hardly complicated.
After 90 minutes I added the salt and cream, gave the dal a good stir and left it to simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. The dal does start to thicken near the end so you need to keep an eye on it and stir when needed.
I washed and chopped up the coriander (cilantro) whilst the final cooking phase was underway and put the rice into the microwave 15 minutes from when it was needed. The dal thickened up near the end of the cooking time but not overly so I did not need to add any extra water.
As usual, the dinner guests arrived in plenty of time (they rarely turn down a free meal) and soon I was serving up the Dal Makhani on basmati rice with a sprinkling of coriander (cilantro). Some people don’t like coriander (cilantro) so can just leave it off.
And how was the dal? It was simply delicious. The dal had a great consistency being not too thick and not too thin – in fact, it was about the same consistency as served up by the curry house. Everything was cooked really well and there was a smooth, creamy texture. The coriander (cilantro) added a nice taste (we all like this ingredient). The meal was very filling and would easily satisfy 6 people (there were 2 portions left over which I froze to use as work lunches). Everyone was happy with the meal and it received an excellent 8.5 out of 10 with a spice/heat rating of “Medium”.
So I am now a dal makhani convert. If you like dal then this is a recipe that you simply must try for yourself. It is a great vegetarian meal and it becomes vegan if you leave out the cream.