Dalicious bukhara style bean stew
I first tried dal makhni at a kebab restaurant in Bangalore. I was looking for North Indian food and after asking some bypassers, I ended up at this little gem of a restaurant hidden on a calm street just off one of the busy main roads of Indranaghar. I know I ordered missi rotis and probably some palak paneer. I also know that I got a small side-dish of exquisite dal makhni – it was love at first bite.
To be completely honest, dal makhni does not solicit much teeth, tender and mellow as it is. Its name is revelatory of the two ingredients that make it what it is: a bean stew dotted with butter.
Later on and back in Europe, a North Indian friend informed me that the most famous version of dal makhni is the dal bukhara, named after a New Delhi restaurant. When looking up and comparing recipes on the internet (see vegrecipesofindia), I found that the dal bukhara owes much of its creaminess to the generous quantities of butter and cream it contains. It is also made exclusively of urad dal, as opposed to dal makhni which combines urad, black gram, and red kidney beans, rajma.
I attempted a compromise between the two: I used only urad dal and a less copious amount of butter. My first batch of dal makhni/bukhara was so good that I decided it was the perfect vegetarian contribution to the Christmas table.
For two big soup bowls of stew, you will need:
1 cup black urad dal (black gram)
200 ml tomato passata, concasee or fresh tomato puree
1 small potato
4 garlic cloves
1.5 cm ginger
0.5 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cummin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dry chili
1 bay leaf
200 ml water
50 gr butter
- Wash and soak the dal overnight. Change the water a couple of times.
- Rinse the dal, place it in pot, cover with water and bring to boil.
- Remove the foam that comes up to the surface. When not much foam is forming anymore, remove the boiling water and add fresh water enough to cover the dal. Add some salt and a bay leaf. Continue boiling the dal until soft.
- In the meantime chop the garlic and ginger very finely; crush it with a mortar and pestle.
- Once the dal is soft, add the tomato passata, the spices, half of the butter and the water. Let it simmer with the lid ajar on medium to low heat. Make sure to monitor and stir, as the dal which is heavier may sink to the bottom and burn.
- When the dal has become a bit thicker, add the small potato cut in half and the rest of the butter. Continue simmering.
- When the consistence of the stew has become creamier, without excess liquid collecting on the surface, remove the potato and some of the dal, process it in a mixer and put it back into the pot.
- It will take between an hour and an hour and a half of slow cooking until the stew is nicely soft, creamy and thick.
- Serve the dal in a deep plate garnished with a dollop of liquid cream and some freshly chopped coriander or parsley.