Of all the dals in Indian cuisine, dal makhani is perhaps one of the most glorious ones. It’s packed with flavor, a smooth creamy texture, tanginess from the yogurt and tomatoes that go into the stew and you can eat it by itself with a dollop of yogurt or with rice or roti. It really stands on its own. This recipe is for pressure cookers. However, you can easily adapt it for the stovetop, use a heavy Dutch oven with a lid. Presoak your beans overnight in water and then follow the rest of the steps in the Dutch Oven. Your cooking time will be approximately 35 to 45 minutes. I also have a mortal fear of stovetop pressure cookers, thank goodness for the soul that invented the electric one with all the safety features!
Last November while on the book tour, I visited the wonderful folk at Honey and Co. who also hosted my book dinner. I spoke with Itamar and Sarit who are the talented chefs behind the store and it’s now up in their podcast and you can listen to the conversation on their Food Talks podcast here. (iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher).
Pressure-Cooker Dal Makhani
1 cup whole urad beans (see Note)
2 large onions, finely diced
1 piece ginger root, about 1 inch, peeled and grated
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala, homemade or store-bought
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons full-fat Greek yogurt
¼ cup loosely packed chopped cilantro leaves (optional)
2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 piece ginger root, about 1 inch, peeled and cut into matchsticks
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Instructions: Pick and discard any stones or dirt that might be in the beans. Rinse the beans in a medium bowl and soak covered in water for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
Add the beans, onions, grated ginger, garlic, garam masala, salt, turmeric and cayenne pepper along with 5 cups of water to the bowl of the pressure cooker. Stir once and seal the lid; cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.
While the beans cook, mix the cream and yogurt in a small bowl. Then stir it into the cooked beans followed by the cilantro.
Heat the ghee or oil in a small saucepan on medium high. Add the cumin and cinnamon with the ginger matchsticks and saute for 30 seconds, then add the tomato paste. Cook for 3½ to 4 minutes, stirring until the fat starts to separate from the mixture. Stir this mixture into the dal in the cooker. The final consistency of the dal should be thick, but you can thin it with a bit of water if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Serve hot with plain rice or bread (preferably flatbread such as roti) and plain yogurt.
Note: Urad beans, a.k.a. black gram or Vigna mungo, can be purchased at any Indian grocery store or specialty market. This dish is typically made with the whole bean, but a split version can also be used.