My neighbor on the south side of me is from India and Parul recently shared with me a dish she enjoys making for her family called Dal Makhani. This dish is from Punjab, a state in the northern part of India. It seems I’m drawn to foods from this region as one of my other favorite dishes is Butter Chicken and both along with Butter Naan are considered staples of Punjabi Food.
Dal makhani is a lentil dish that is traditionally simmered for hours over charcoal in a rich tomato and butter gravy so it has translated well to being prepared in a slow cooker and that is how it is prepared in the recipe that Parul uses.
I’ve recently become very enamored with using a pressure cooking for dishes that require some time to complete so when I was contacted by Fagor asking if I would like to work with them I thought it the perfect opportunity for making this Dal Makhani.
I’ll be honest, I have a pressure cooker…but I really wanted a second one and it’s a beauty…plus it makes yogurt…win-win right? The real bonus of pressure cookers today is that they are multi-purpose tools. How many times have you used your slow cooker but had to sauté meats or onion and other vegetables before putting them into the appliance?
Pressure cookers today have features that allow for sautéing before cooking in pressure and simmering after cooking is complete so that everything is literally is done in one pot. For me, that makes them the ultimate tool for convenience; being so pretty doesn’t hurt either!
The company provided me with their LUX Electric Multi-Cooker in Copper. Yes…Copper! It’s also available in Stainless or Champagne and I have to admit I love the look but it’s the simplest of all functions that sold me.
When I bought the pressure cooker I have now I gave my rice cooker to Goodwill so I now use the pressure cooker to make rice. I like to add butter and seasoning to the rice before I cook it and in the appliance I have I can always tell where the seasoning and butter were in the cooker as it’s never mixed in thoroughly enough. That was going to be my big test and the Fagor won hands down; the rice was soft and fluffy and not one hotspot of seasoning that I could see.
Still, making a meal that would normally take overnight in a slow cooker was to be my next test and it was perfect. No long, overnight soaking of lentils to insure they were soft enough. No step to prep either; I just put everything together to cook at one time. I let the lentils soak only as long as it took for me to gather my other ingredients and then it was a mere 15 minutes under pressure and voila…DONE!
PLUS? Just for my readers? Fagor is also giving one of these magical pressure cookers to a lucky winner…be sure to enter after the recipe!
This dish is surprising for many; our knowledge of Indian foods is so often limited by thinking curry and more curry. That might be more true of the flavors in the Punjabi Butter Chicken but this dish is totally different and almost impossible to describe. Suffice to say that I double the recipe and still seldom have any leftover to freeze for later. I might be able to eat it twice a day for for a couple of days in a row and still crave more…no, I am so not kidding.
The mixture of lentils and beans with the butter, tomato sauce and Indian spices makes a rich, tasty dish. Topped with some yogurt, cilantro and diced red onion and it’s taken to another level. How good was it? Well, I have a neighbor who can be a bit fussy and if asked would say, “No Indian food!” So of course I asked him to try it; minus the onions he REALLY can’t stand. His response? Sort of a shocked, ‘Not bad.’
Now of course I preferred his wife’s response and request to take some home but when you have an avowed ‘hater of Indian food’ comment that he now knows what he can order off the menu when he finds himself in an Indian restaurant, you know you’ve made some progress. Onions? Nope…I’ll never get him there!
Yes there are some unique ingredients you’ll need but this dish is so worth making that effort. We’ve got an Indian grocery not too far from me but if you don’t have one near where you live, check with your local natural foods purveyor and/or Whole Foods Market too. If your last resort is to buy online a friend recommended Kalustyans, a specialty foods market.
Naan is a great accompaniment to this dish. It’s easy to make and I’ve got a Naan recipe on this site that we love but I also find it at Costco and Sprouts so it’s not hard to locate when grocery shopping either.
If you love Indian food you have to give this a try; it’s become a staple in my home, mostly because once you have the ingredients it’s a piece of cake to make!
Note: I have to thank my friend Ansh for the lovely Indian dish she brought me after a trip back home and the set of utensils from Parul when she also visited her home in India this past summer. Talk about authentic right? I had to save them for the perfect dish…and this is it!
For the Ginger/Garlic/Chili Paste
- 2 dry, whole red chiles, preferably Kashmiri red chiles- deseeded and soaked for 10 minutes in warm water and then drained
- 1 inch piece ginger, peeled
- 2 cloves garlic
For the Dal
- 1 cup urad saboot (whole unskinned black lentils)*
- 1/2 cup red kidney beans
- 2 tbsp channa dal*
- 4 cups water
- 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) - or use regular butter
- 1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp garam masala*
- 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
- 2 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)*
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1/2 tsp aamchoor powder (raw mango powder)*
- 2-3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 tsp black salt*
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2-3 tbsp fresh cilantro/coriander, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
Add before serving
- pinch garam masala
- 1 cup half and half
- Lime Wedges
- Cilantro, chopped
- Red Onion, chopped finely
Ingredients marked with an * can be found in Indian grocery stores.
- Rinse the lentils, red kidney beans and channa dal and add them to the pressure cooker with the 4 cups of water. Let them sit in the water while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Make a paste by grinding together the red chiles, ginger and garlic. You can use a mortar and pestle or try my method. I tried grinding them without much success in a mini Cuisinart so I removed some of the water for the recipe and added it to the paste mixture...worked like a charm.
- Combine all ingredients except the last measure of garam masala in the pressure cooker and set for 15 minutes on high; let pressure release naturally. Mash the lentils a little bit, add the pinch of garam masala and simmer.
- Add the half and half and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Serve over rice and garnish with yogurt, chopped cilantro and diced red onion.
- Serve with Naan (optional).
I usually double it and then freeze leftovers. Works like a charm.
This post has been sponsored by Fagor however all commentary is my own.
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