Monday, December 26, 2011

Ma Ki Dal/Dal Makhani (Whole Urad & Kidney Beans Punjabi Style)

Ma Ki Dal is an amazing partnership between two legumes: whole urad and rajma or red kidney beans! It is also known as Kali dal (black dal) or Dal Makhani (buttery dal); but I like the name Ma ki dal = Mama's lentils :D. It is traditional, common fare in Punjabi cuisine and may be served with rice or breads. Black whole urad and red kidney beans are simmered slowly for a rich, buttery tasting thick stew.

Even though this is a very simple dal with minimal number of spices, the slow simmering produces exquisitely delicious succulent dal. Adjust the amount of chiles up or down for spicy or mild dal.

Although soaking is not essential, I soak the beans for at least 30 minutes; a longer soak is even better.

Ma ki dal provides yummy, rib-sticking abundant protein and is served with the grains (rice or roti). All you need to complete the feast are some green veggies, like cucumber and tomato salad.

4-6 Servings


1 cup Whole Urad beans with skin
1/4 cup Red Kidney beans
1-2 Dry Red Chiles
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Ghee/Oil
1 small Red Onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1-2 cloves fresh Garlic, minced (optional)
1-2 fresh hot green chiles, cored and minced
2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped finely
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2-1 tsp Paprika (smoked type if available)
1/4-1/2 tsp ground Red Pepper (cayenne) (optional)
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 Tbsp Kasoori Methi (dried Fenugreek leaves), optional
vegan spread to serve (optional)


Sort, wash and cook the beans (soaking not absolutely necessary; but beneficial) with whole red chiles in water to cover until quite soft (the beans should not offer any resistance when pressed with fingers); this might take about 1 hour.

I highly recommend the use of a pressure cooker to cook the beans as it shortens the cooking time and produces consistently well-cooked beans. See this post on beans for more info as well as tips on preparation.

Fish out the chiles and discard, add salt, mash the dal coarsely just a little with the back of a ladle and set aside.

Heat the ghee/oil in a large pan (at least 2 quart/liter size) and cook the onions with a pinch of salt until soft and beginning to color; don't worry about the bottom of the pan getting a bit of onions stuck on - that stuff is good; it is the caramelizing of the onions and will add a touch of amazing flavor. Add ginger and green chili and saute until they are soft.

Stir in ground red pepper, paprika, & turmeric and cook for a few seconds.

Add tomatoes, mix well and cook until soft.

Tip the cooked beans along with the cooking liquid into the onion mixture. Bring to a boil stirring often; sprinkle the garam masala on top and simmer gently for about 20 minutes over low heat.

Crush the Kasoori Methi leaves in your hand and sprinkle on top of the dal.

Cover and allow to rest for about 10 minutes. Stir in the vegan butter substitute before serving or top individual bowls with a little bit.

Serve hot with rice, couscous, quinoa, or any kind of wholegrain bread. Enjoy!!

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