This Dal Makhani recipe is a restaurant style version with subtle smoky flavors and creaminess of the lentils. Dal Makhani is one of the most popular lentil recipes from the North Indian cuisine made with whole urad dal (black gram) and kidney beans.
Soak both the whole urad dal and rajma overnight in enough water for 8 to 9 hours or overnight. Later drain them well.
Rinse both the lentils a couple of times in water.
Drain again and then add them in a 3 litre pressure cooker. Add water and stir well.
Pressure cook for 18 to 20 whistles on a high flame, till both the urad dal and rajma have cooked thoroughly and softened. If they are not cooked, then add about ½ cup water again and pressure cook for 4 to 5 whistles more.
The urad dal should melt in the mouth and should not give any bite or resistance when eaten. You can also just mash the urad dal with a spoon or with your fingers to check the doneness. The same rule applies for rajma too. Keep the cooked beans aside.
In a blender or mixer jar, take chopped tomatoes and blend to a smooth puree. Set aside.
You can also add ready 1 cup tomato puree instead of blending the tomatoes. No need to blanch the tomatoes while pureeing.
Making dal makhani
In a pan, now heat butter. You can use salted butter or unsalted butter.
Add the whole spices - cumin seeds, cloves, green cardamoms, black cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon, 1 small to medium tej patta.
Fry for some seconds till the spices sputter and become aromatic.
Add finely chopped onions.
Stir and sauté the onions on a low or medium-low heat often till they become light golden.
Add the ginger garlic paste. Stir again and sauté for some seconds till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
Add the chopped green chilies and sauté for a minute.
Add the prepared tomato puree and mix well.
Add red chili powder and 2 to 3 pinches of grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder.
Stir very well and sauté this mixture on a low to medium flame, till you see fat releasing from the sides.
Then add the cooked urad dal and rajma beans along with the stock. Also add 1 cup water or as required.
Stir very well and simmer the dal makhani uncovered on a low flame.
Keep on stirring often, so that the lentils don't stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Once it has begun to thicken, add salt as required.
Stir very well and continue to simmer on a low flame. Keep on stirring when the lentils are simmered on low heat.
When simmering you can add more water if the gravy looks thick or dry. The longer you keep dal makhani to simmer, the better it tastes.
I kept it for about an overall 25 minutes on a low flame. Do keep on stirring at intervals.
When the gravy has thickened enough, then add cream. Dal makhani is not too thick or too thin. It has a medium consistency.
Mix the cream very well. Then switch off the heat.
Cover and set dal makhani aside, if you are proceeding to the dhungar method. Or else you can serve dal makhni straight away.
Heat a small piece of charcoal on flame till it becomes red hot. With the help of tongs, keep on turning the charcoal piece so that it evenly burns.
Keep the red hot charcoal in a small bowl.
Pour ½ teaspoon oil on the hot charcoal.
Immediately keep this bowl on top of the dal makhani.
Cover for a minute and allow the charcoal to infuse its smoke in the dal makhni. Remove the bowl. Stir again.
Serve punjabi dal makhani garnished with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) and a few teaspoons of cream with naan, roti, paratha or steamed rice.
Cooking in pot or pan: Add the the soaked black gram, kidney beans and 3 to 4 cups water in a large pot. Cover and cook on medium heat till the lentils and beans soften. Add water as needed. If cooking the beans in a pot, it may take from 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Soaking: It is always better to soak beans overnight or for 8 to 9 hours. Soaking reduces the phytic acid in them which causes indigestion and flatulence. Soaking also helps the beans to cook faster.
Rinsing: Before cooking, rinse the soaked beans in water a couple of times. Then drain all the water and cook the beans with fresh water.
Cooking: When you soaking beans and lentils the cooking time considerably reduces by 25%. You can then cook the soaked beans in a pan or in a pressure cooker or instant pot.
Freshness: Beans & legumes should be fresh and not aged. Beans which are too old or beyond their expiry date (shelf-life) will take a more time to cook and may not cook well enough to give a melt in the mouth texture. Undercooked beans upset the stomach too.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are an important ingredient in this recipe. You could use canned tomatoes too or packaged tomato puree (1 cup). For fresh tomatoes, choose the sweet and ripe variety. Do not add highly sour or tart tomatoes.
Dhungar method: The smoking method can be skipped too if you do not have charcoal. If you have smoked paprika, then use it in place of red chilli powder in the recipe to give a faint smoky flavor in the dish.
Lentils: Use split urad dal with the husks or beluga lentils (black lentils), whole red lentils (masoor dal) and whole moong lentils. The taste with all these lentils will be different and the cooking time will also change.
Whole Spices: Substitute whole spices with ½ teaspoon of garam masala powder. Add garam masala powder at the step when kasuri methi (dried methi leaves) are added. Add ½ teaspoon curry powder if you do not have garam masala.
Fresh tomatoes: Use canned tomatoes or packaged tomato puree (1 cup) in place of fresh tomatoes. You may need to add some more water as packaged tomato puree is usually thick.
Low fat cream: Use lite cream or half and half. If using heavy cream, add 2 tablespoons of it.
Dried fenugreek leaves: Skip if you do not have these.
Charcoal: Use smoked paprika or morita peppers which are smoked jalapeno peppers. These are smoked with a different method that leaves them with a fresh charcoal flavor.