I was once told that dal makhani is "truck stop food" in the Punjab, but as far as I'm concerned that's an endorsement of Punjabi truck stops and not a criticism of the dish. Warm, creamy and spicy, variations of this once humble north Indian staple have become signature dishes in fine Indian restaurants over here, and it's my husband's favorite curry when eating out.
Like other famous dal curries, dal makhani — literally "buttery" lentils — invites experimentation. The essentials of whole urad beans or black gram, and red kidney beans, ginger, garam masala and cream remain the same, but otherwise the dals are a canvas upon which to work your seasoning art. Even if I do say so myself, my version here improves upon some of the best dal makhanis I've ever eaten. The earthy and nutty flavors of the dals are layered with the bittersweet aromatic tastes of cinnamon, cardamom and mace, followed by a complex but subtle heat from chilies, Kashmiri chili powder and garam masala, with a little tang from tomato and amchoor powder, all tempered by a sweet thick cream. One mouthful is such a fusion of wonderful sensations that no one will believe it is so incredibly simple to make!
The creamy texture of dal makhani comes from the whole urad beans, small round dark-skinned beans that become very glutinous with cooking — quite unique to beans — and impart a wonderfully rich and earthy flavor. They're easy to find in Indian or Asian grocers, as is the wonderful paprika-like Kashmiri chili powder and other spices in this recipe. Pair this flavorful dal curry with hot fresh cooked rice and Indian flatbreads for a completely satisfying vegetarian dinner, or substitute coconut cream or reduced almond milk to make this a vegan dal makhani.
|Dal Makhani (Black Gram and Kidney Bean Curry)|
|Recipe by Lisa Turner|
Published on October 6, 2012
The classic Punjabi warm, creamy and spicy curry of black gram and red kidney beans
More dal curries you will enjoy:
Tangy Red Lentil Dal with Goda Masala
Spicy Urad Dal with Tomato and Fennel Seeds
Marwadi Mixed Dal
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