Posted on Tue 24 November 2020 in Food

I've loved daal (or dal or dahl or dhal etc) since my trip to India in 2019... Ugh, that seems so interminably long ago now, in the final weeks of the long decade of 2020. Anyway.

A dark, brown-green daal makhani, with swirls of cream visible.
Daal makhani in Varanasi.

So there's this recipe I've followed a handful of times. I like it, it's similar to what I enjoyed while travelling through Jaipur, but it doesn't really kick the same way that the food in India did, so I always find myself tweaking it. The base recipe came from https://thewanderlustkitchen.com/indian-red-lentil-dal/ ... and then I looked up a specifically Rajasthani daal recipe and found this one which is super similar. The place I've settled is in the middle of the two.

Ingredients and Method, jumbled into one

Step One (the pot)

  • 3/4 cup Red Lentils - rinsed
  • 1/4 cup Green Lentils - rinsed
  • 3 cups water (not boiling, just room temp)

After rinsing, put the lentils and water in a medium pot over medium heat. Let them simmer while you prep the rest.

Step Two (the fry pan)

  • 1.5 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tbsp butter or ghee
  • 1 Tbsp oil

Put these into a medium fry pan; don't turn it on yet.

Step Three (the base spices)

  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 Tbsp of ginger, I just used the crushed stuff
  • 1 large onion, diced. Use different types of onion if you're feeling ✧・゚: ✧・゚: faaancy :・゚✧:・゚✧
  • 2 green chilies. Dump the seeds and chop them up.
  • If you don't have chilies, drop in 2 Tbsp of Salsa Picante instead, for that capsicum-type flavour.

Prep the above, and put them all into a small bowl.

Step Four (get your heat on)

At this point, turn the frypan on to medium heat. Let the cumin and cinnamon sizzle in the oil for about a minute, until the scent starts to pop.

Just before it starts to smoke, throw in the contents of your small bowl from Step Three, give it a stir, and crank the heat up to eleven.

Step Five (getting serious now)

  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2/3 tsp cardamom (either ground, or smash the seeds in a pestle)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • Spinach! I used about a cup worth of the frozen chopped stuff (defrosted first, of course)

Give your frypan a stir every couple of minutes. By the time you've finished chopping the tomato and getting the rest of this together, the onions should be transparent and the whole thing should be smelling amazing.

Add all these ingredients to the frypan and give it another stir. Stir up the lentils as well, they should have been simmering for a few minutes by now!

Step Six (tune those flavours)

This last part really comes down to personal tastes, but here's my go:

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Aromat or MSG
  • 1 tsp Vegeta vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup of coconut cream, regular cream, or yoghurt

Once the lentils have thickened up, mix in all the above, and then stir in the now-cooked contents of your frypan. That's it, your daal is assembled! Taste and tweak as desired, and then serve on rice.

My daal, in the pot at home.  Much more yellow cast than the makhani style above.
The end result.