Slow Cooker Dal Makhani: Buttery Black Dal

March 14, 2018

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Dal Makhani

The Indian Slow Cooker is getting better! My first cookbook released in 2010 through Evanston-based Agate Publishing. When my publisher suggested updating it, I had to say yes. After all, it's the book the started the #HealthyIndian revolution. It's largely based on my working immigrant mother's recipes. The very ones she raised our family on as she struggled to balance dinner and work daily without help in the house and in a foreign country. 

There are several new recipes in the book. One is for Dal Makhani. I know you love eating it out, but how about making it at home in your crock pot? Well, here you have my version. My sick preteen and I just had a bowl of leftovers for lunch and I'm determined more than ever that you all get this recipe into your weekly dinner routine. It's delicious! 

While there are a few Urad dal recipes already in the book, Dal Makhani is slightly different in that you'll add fenugreek leaves and tomato paste. I've also stuck with a traditional tarka so that you have another layer of yummy flavor. Oh, and let's not forget the butter! 

Dal Makhani: Buttery Black Dal

Slow Cooker Size: 5 Quarts; Cooking Time: 9 hours on High; Yield, 11 cups

2 ¼ cup sabut urad dal (whole, dried black dal with skin), picked over and washed
1 cup rajmah (dried red kidney beans), picked over and washed
1 medium yellow or red onion, roughly chopped
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
1-4 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne
¼ cup unsalted tomato paste
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), lightly hand crushed to release flavor *
11 cups water

Tarka (Tempering):

2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
1 pinch hing (asafetida)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), lightly crushed in your hand to release flavor *
1 medium yellow or red onion, minced
1-2 Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced

¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter (regular or plant-based)
¼ cup half & half or heavy cream (optional) 

1. In a large, deep bowl, soak the sabut urad and rajmah together in enough water to cover them for at least 1 hour. Drain, rinse, and add to the slow cooker. Because it’s small and black urad dal is notorious for containing debris. Be sure to pick over it and wash it a few times until your water runs clear.

2. Grind the onion, ginger, garlic, and fresh chile in a food processor until smooth. Add this to the slow cooker along with the cumin seeds and powder, the coriander powder, the red chile, tomato paste, salt, cardamom, fenugreek seeds, bay leaves, kasoori methi and water. Cook on high for a total of 9 hours.

3. After cooking, prepare the tarka. In a separate small, shallow pan, heat the ghee or oil over medium-high heat. Add hing, cumin and fenugreek seeds and heat until the seeds sizzle and turn reddish brown, about 30 seconds. Add kasoori methi and mix.

4. Add onion and fresh chiles. Cook until the onion browns, about 4 minutes – mixing in between. Add this mixture to the slow cooker. Add the cilantro, butter and cream if using. Cover until the butter melts through. Remove the bay leaves, mix and serve over basmati rice, with roti or naan.

* Kasoori methi can be found at most Indian grocery stores. If you can’t find it, just omit it.

For a 3 ½ quart slow cooker, use 1 ¼ cups urad dal, ½ cup rajmah, and 7 cups water. Cut the other ingredients in half, cook on high for 7 hours, and follow the instructions above. 



Anupy Singla
Anupy Singla

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