Dal Makhani or Maa ki Dal

I love all things earthy- terracotta, Khurja earthen dishes, traditional China, old (or old style) English crockery with delicate floral patterns and copper and brass cooking and serving ware. On my last trip to Bombay, saw this gorgeous traditional style copperware and picked it up pronto!

Was itching to shoot with it and this little copper bucket made the Dal Makhani I cooked recently look even more appetizing somehow!


In my book there is only one way to dish out an excellent Dal Makhani- slowly! No quick fixes and low fat versions do justice to the much loved ‘Maa ki Dal’. I loved the name a friend gave it ‘ Makhani Dal Makahni’ – it says all there is to say about a it! A few hours of slow cooked goodness is the only way to go. The slow cooking gets it to creamy richness and this is further enriched by adding cream and/or butter. And you get a spoon of yum!

This recipe serves 4
You need

Whole urad dal/ dehusked black gram lentils (whole or split) – 1 ½ cup, soaked for a couple of hours
Salt- 1 tsp
Garlic, minced- 1 Tbsp
Onion, chopped very fine- 2 medium sized
Green chillies, chopped fine- 1 tsp
Ginger, grated-  1 ½ tsp
Tomatoes, chopped fine or pureed- 2, medium sized
Red Chilli /lal mirch powder- 1 tsp (adjust as per taste)
Coriander/dhaniya powder- 1 tsp
Garam Masala powder- ½ tsp
Roasted cumin/jeera powder- ½ tsp
Mango powder/Aamchoor- ½ tsp
Oil- 1 ½  tbsp
Cream- 1 Tbsp
Butter- 2 Tbsp and as much as desired to top the dal ( I used homemade white butter)
Fresh coriander, chopped coarse- 1 tbsp

Pressure cook the dal with salt and water till it is cooked soft.
Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan/kadhai and add the minced garlic and onions. Stir till the onions turn light brown and add ginger and green chillies. After a minute add the tomatoes, coriander powder, red chilli powder and cook on medium flame till the oil separates.
Add the cooked dal and bring to boil. Add water if the dal is too thick. Add cumin powder and garam masala and a tablespoon of butter and let cook on low heat for about 20 minutes.
Add another tablespoon of butter and aamchoor and cook for another 20 minutes. Mash the dal a little with the back of the ladle. By now the dal will become thick and creamy.

Top with a tbsp of cream or a dollop of butter or both. Sprinkle fresh coriander liberally and serve with raw onion rings and a wedge of lime on the side.