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Friday, May 19, 2017

Dal Makhani, dhaba style

Dal makhani is a rich lentil preparation. There are many recipes out there made with whole masoor as well as whole urad dal. Here is the recipe to make dal makhani using whole masoor - Dal Makhani recipe. The following recipe is a creamier version which is made using whole black urad dal.

There are many roadside small restaurants that produce delicious food called "dhaba". We used to always get an order of dal makhani with naan from there. And I remember the cook adding an entire slab of butter to just our portion of the dal that he was finishing before packing it off.  Of course it had a delicious creamy and smoky flavor. This version is a creamy version using a much lower fat alternative. The technique to provide it a smoky flavor that is usually found in the "dhaba" version is also provided. This technique can be used to add a smoky flavor to dal fry or any other curry preparation as well.

I have provided multiple methods starting with a traditional method to make it sauteeing onions and tomatoes before adding the dal. Also included are almost hand free methods which can me made in the stove top pressure cooker or the Instant Pot or an equivalent electric cooker.



Ingredients
2 cups whole urad dal
4 cups water + little more
1 tsp cumin/jeera
1 tbsp ghee
1-2 green chillies, optional, to taste
1 large onion, finely sliced, approximately 3/4 cup
1 tomato, deseeded and finely chopped, 1/3 cup
1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 tsp kasuri methi
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp hing powder
salt to taste
red chilli powder, to taste
1 cup milk
1 piece of charcoal, optional
1/8 tsp of ghee or oil, optional

Method
Wash the urad dal thoroughly and soak it in water for at least an hour.

Traditional recipe

In a pressure cooker, add the ghee and jeera. Once the jeera starts crackling, add the hing, green chilli, ginger, garlic and onion. Cook till the onion is lightly browned and then add the tomatoes and cook this till softened and starting to brown. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, kasuri methi and cook for a minute. Then add the soaked urad dal and water. Add salt, stir and close the lid of the cooker and cook for 8-10 whistles. Then let the pressure drop as it cools down. Once the pressure has dropped, open the lid and add the milk and bring it back up to a boil. Then follow the instructions below to give it the dhaba flavor provided in the "Adding the dhaba flavor" section.



Minimal intervention/work method

Traditional Pressure Cooker
In your pressure add the ghee and 2tbsp of water, so the base of the cooker is covered with either ghee or water to create a layer. Sprinkle cumin seeds on the ghee. Then mix the ginger and garlic with the sliced onions and spread this out in a single even layer in the cooker. Sprinkle the hing powder on this and add the green chilli as well to this layer. Cook this on high for 3 whistles. Release the pressure from the cooker. Open it, and you will find that the lower layer of the onion has been caramelized. Mix this well and then add the tomatoes in a heap or layer on top of the onions. Then add the spices, so that they are on top of a layer of tomatoes or onions and not touching the bottom of the vessel. This is to ensure that the spices don't burn. Add the turmeric, red chilli powder if using, kasuri methi and put the lid back on. Cook this on high heat till you get two whistles. Release the pressure. The tomato will be cooked and will have released water. Now turn on the heat, and keeping the cooker open, cook for 2-3 minutes stirring a few times till the water evaporates and you get a nicely browned gravy. Now, turn off the heat. Spread this gravy into an even layer. Drain the urad dal water, and discard the water. Add the soaked and drained urad dal to the cooker. Then pour in the four cups of water. Close the lid of the cooker and cook it on high heat for about 10 minutes (you will get 8-10 whistles). Let the pressure settle naturally, don't release it manually. Open the cooker and the dal will be creamy and soft. If you want it to be softer in consistency, add a little more water and pressure cook for 5 more minutes. After opening the cooker, once the cooker naturally depressurizes, add the milk and stir it well and heat the dal till it starts to boil, keeping the lid of the cooker open.  Then turn off heat. Do not pressure cook after adding the milk.

Instant Pot
In your Instant Pot liner pot, add the ghee and 1-2 tbsp of water, so the base of the cooker is covered with either ghee or water to create a layer. Sprinkle cumin seeds on the ghee. Then mix the ginger and garlic with the sliced onions and spread this out in a single even layer in the cooker. Sprinkle the hing powder on this and add the green chilli as well to this layer. Cook this in the Instant Pot for 5 minutes on manual mode. Release the pressure from the cooker. Open it, and you will find that the lower layer of the onion has been caramelized. Mix this well and then add the tomatoes in a heap or layer on top of the onions. Then add the spices, so that they are on top of a layer of tomatoes or onions and not touching the bottom of the vessel. This is to ensure that the spices don't burn. Add the turmeric, red chilli powder if using, kasuri methi and put the lid back on. Cook this for 3 minutes on manual mode. Release pressure. The tomato will be cooked and will have released water. Now turn on the saute mode in the Instant Pot and cook 2-3 minutes stirring a few times till the water evaporates and you get a nicely browned gravy. Now, turn off the saute mode. Spread this gravy into an even layer. Drain the urad dal water, and discard the water. Add the soaked and drained urad dal to the cooker. Then pour in the four cups of water. Close the lid of the cooker and put it in beans mode which defaults to 30 minutes. You can also cook it in manual mode for 15 minutes. Let the pressure settle, don't release it. Open the cooker and the dal will be creamy and soft. If you want it to be softer in consistency, add a little more water and pressure cook for 5 minutes more in the manual mode After opening the cooker, once the cooker naturally depressurizes, add the milk and stir it well and heat the dal on saute mode, till it starts to boil and  then turn off heat.



Adding the dhaba flavor
Now to give it the dhaba flavor. Place a small steel bowl in the center of the dal. Using a pair of tongs, hold the charcoal and smoke it on the burner flame or on a candle (this takes longer but if you have an electric stove, this is your option). Once it starts to smoke, place it in the steel bowl afloat the dal and sprinkle a few drops of ghee or oil on it. Then place a lid to cover the pot and entrap the smoke inside. Keep it for 2-5 minutes depending on the intensity of the smoky flavor that you are looking for.  Serve hot with rice.




Tips
If you don't have whole urad, you can also use split black urad dal or even masoor dal. Don't use the one where the black peel has been taken off the dal. 

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