After I got married and moved to Delhi NCR, I realized l had landed in the land of paneer, naan and chana masala and in a few days of eating out, we were swimming neck deep in butter. Nilesh called it ‘enough’ and hauled me in the kitchen, to cook a decent Maharashtrian meal of varan-bhaat-bhaaji-poli. But I had developed this fixation with daal makhani I 0rdered in each restaurant and could not get the earthy aroma out of my head. I shot a mail with a subject line – ‘daal – makhani this time!’ to dear friend Shweta and pat came this recipe. I gathered the ingredients and courage and tried it. Eureka! The outcome was as delicious as right out of a restaurant kitchen.
Here is the recipe, pretty much a copy paste from Shweta’s email dated 23rd August 2006. It is a regular in my kitchen till date – I skip the red chili powder and dried red chili and load it up with cinnamon and black pepper which gives it a nice aroma, without making to too spicy for Aditi.
Urad daal (black whole urad, not the split one) – 1 cup
Rajma – One-Fourth cup
Chana Daal – One-fourth cup
Ginger – lots (a 2.5 inch piece)
Garlic – 2 small pods (optional)
Tomatoes – 2 ripe ones, chopped fine.
Ghee/ Butter – 1 tbsp
Salt – as per taste
Heeng – 1 tsp
Red Chili powder – 1 tsp (optional)
Whole Red Chili – 1 (broken into two halves/ optional)
Jeera – 1 tsp
Cinnamon powder – half tbsp
Ground black pepper – half tbsp
- Wash the three daals well, mix them and soak overnight (about 8 hrs) in lots of water.
- Add salt to taste and pressure cook the soaked daals. What I do is put the cooker on high flame and after first whistle and lower the flame to medium. Let it cook for about 7-8 whistles. There should be enough water or the daal will burn due to the long cooking time.
- Once the cooker cools down, mix the daals well with a ladle, chana daal should almost dissolve, rajma will be as it is. This is how you get the soupy consistency, long cooking time is the key.
- Then add ginger juliennes (more the better, but depends on your love for ginger).
- Now in a wok, heat ghee (or butter), add heeng, jeera, dry red chillies, chopped garlic (optional). Fry a little and then add finely chopped tomatoes.
- Once tomatoes are soft, add some red chili powder and then add the daal. Let it simmer for a while.
- Add in the black pepper powder and cinnamon powder.
- If you want you can add more butter/cream at the end.
Like most of typical marathi families, I was totally committed to my ‘phon-ni cha waran’, which is essentially toor/ arhar daal. You eat it day and night, every day of the week – unless someone is sick and needs moong daal or it is Sunday-special chole. Post wedding, my soul-mate also became my daal-mate – come what may, he needed his bowl of toor daal everyday, for normal functioning of his faculties. We both kept lapping it up happily till my gestational diabetes days. I was given a strict diet chart to follow and toor daal was a ‘no no’ – reason being its high glycemic index. I was advised to go for different daals, which had more fiber and most important was the emphasis on chana daal, because of its low glycemic index. A bag of 5 kg chana daal was procured asap and I began including chana daal in our staple diet. Both me and hubby started to like the flavor and texture. Since potatoes were banned too, I mostly ate lauki / bottlegourd. It is then that I started making lauki chana daal and the combination suited me too well – it was healthy, could be eaten with rotis and thick enough to be carried in my lunch box to work. The love for this veggie-lentil combo continues till date, to the extent that N buys 2 laukis every time ( I know you will make one with chana daal. Make a veggie side out of the other one!). Trust me, it is so filling that I sometimes skip the roti and eat a bowlful of this daal as a meal in itself. Thankfully, even baby A loves it with rice and I feel happy about feeding lauki to her in this form.
Lauki Chana Daal
Lauki / bottlegourd – 1, green and fresh
Chana daal – 2 cups
Tomatoes – 1 big or 2 small
Adrak – half inch piece
Green chilies – 2, slit length wise
Whole, dried red chilies – 2 (optional)
Meetha Neem (Kadi Patta) – a handful of fresh, green leaves (optional)
Haldi – 1 tsp
Heeng – 1 tsp
Jeera – 1 tsp
Rai – 1 tsp
Salt – as per taste
Lemon juice – of half a lemon (optional)
Oil – half tbsp
1. Peel and chop the lauki to small pieces – smaller they are, the better they blend with the daal. Discard the middle portion flesh of the lauki if it looks pale and has big seeds.
2. Wash the chana daal twice with flowing water.
3. Put both lauki pieces and daal in a pressure cooker. Add 3 cups of water. Also add in haldi and salt.
4. Grate the tomatoes or chop them fine. Grate or pound the ginger. Add both of them to the pressure cooker.
5. Close the pressure cooker and cook till 4 to 5 whistles. Remember that chana daal takes longer to cook through.
6. Let the pressure subside and open the cooker. Mix everything lightly using a ladle.
7. Heat oil in a pan.
8. Once hot, add the rai and jeera and let them splutter for 10 seconds. Add the heng, green chili pieces, dried red chilies and kari patta leaves (if using). Let this mixture sizzle for a 30-40 seconds.
9. Add the cooked daal-lauki to the pan. Add more water if required. Taste and adjust seasonings.
10. Let this simmer on a sim flame, till it reaches a soupy consistency. Add the lemon juice towards the end.
11. Serve with rotis or rice or eat as it is.
Different lentils mentioned in this post –
Toor / arhar daal = yellow pigeon peas
Moong daal = green gram
Chana Daal = split Bengal gram
Chole = chickpeas