Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani with rice and naan

Dal Makhani is a traditional Indian recipe for lentils. Most of the ingredients can be found in the International/Ethnic foods aisle of a decent US grocery store but some are harder to find than others. Fenugreek leaves and Ghee (clarified butter) are two such ingredients. Many traditionalists will have you use whole ingredients over the ground/powdered alternatives, but this can make for considerably longer prep and cleaning times. The other downside of using ingredients such as whole cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick etc is the unpleasant surprise of biting into such an ingredient when eating. One compromise is to sachet these ingredients by wrapping them in cheese cloth and tying with food string before blending spices with tomato/lentil mix. Just don't serve the sachet but definitely keep it in the food if you are storing it.

Serve warm with steamed rice or naan.

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cup dry green lentil beans
  • 6 cups  fresh, cold water
  • 4 each fresh, whole tomatoes, diced
  • 2 each tomatoes, pureed
  • 3 tblsp (divided) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tblsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 each whole bay leaves
  • 2 each whole cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger root, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp  cayenne powder
  • 1 tblsp  chile powder
  • 2 tblsp ground coriander
  • 2 tblsp fenugreek leaves
  • 1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Substitutes

  • 6 cups  fresh, cold water
    • A quart of vegetable broth with 2 cups of fresh water and a teaspoon of sea salt can for a little more flavor
  • 4 each fresh, whole tomatoes, diced
    • 1 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 each tomatoes, pureed
    • 1 14 oz can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
    • 4 whole cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 cinnamon stick, broken
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
    • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 each whole cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 tblsp garlic paste or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ginger root, minced
    • 1/2 ginger paste or 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tblsp fenugreek leaves
    • 2 tblsp fenugreek seed or 1 tblsp fennel seed and 1 tblsp celery seed, sacheted in cheese cloth
  • 1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
    • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
Directions
  1. Place lentils and water a large pot or dutch oven and soak until tender (several hours may be necessary so soaking overnight is best)
  2. Cook lentils and water on medium-low heat for about one hour, remove from heat and set aside covered
  3. Heat 2 tblsp olive oil in medium-high heat in a wok or sauce pan
  4. Cook cumin seeds in hot oil until they pop (about 1-2 minutes)
  5. Add cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves to cumin seed until bay leaves begin to brown (about 1 -2 minutes)
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1 tblsp olive oil. Add garlic, ginger, tumeric and cayenne pepper and stir until coated with oil
  7. Optional - if using whole cardamom etc. this is the time to sachet the larger pieces of seasoning. Add fenugreek seeds to sachet now if you're substituting these for fenugreek leaves
  8. Stir diced tomatoes into seasonings and allow to cook on medium-low for (about 5 minutes)
  9. Stir in pureed tomatoes, chile powder, coriander and ghee. Stir and cook until well blended (about 5 minutes)
  10. Place lentils and water on high heat, stir in seasoned tomato mix and heat until it comes to a boil
  11. Reduce heat to low, stir in fenugreek leaves (unless you're using seeds instead - see step #7) and cook covered for 45 minutes
  12. Stir in sour cream and cook for another 2-4 minutes