We are all crying out for some serious comfort food right now and Dahl Makhani is the ulimate. For me I love it so much because I get to use the wonderful rich dairy of the region where we live in France with one of my favourite world cuisines.
Our recipe is reasonably traditional, the main point of difference comes in the method by which I like to finish the cooking of the dish, over a charcoal/wood bbq which imparts a wonderful smokey tone. This isn’t strictly necessary though and you can make an excellent dahl just on a stove top.
You will need to get your hands on some black lentils (also known as Urad dahl or Beluga lentils). These lentils hold their shape well during the long cooking process and give the dish its distinctive black flecks. Aside from the lentils you probably have everything else in your pantry and fridge! You also just need to remember to soak the dahl the day before.
There is a video at the end of this post where I take you through the whole process.
200g whole black lentils
2 brown onions, diced
5 cloves of garlic, finely grated (use a microplane grater if you have one)
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
3 tablespoons good quality tomato puree
1 tsp fine salt (plus a little extra to season at the end)
1/2 tsp garam masala (make your own if you can)
250ml Full cream milk + 100ml extra to add later in the cooking process
*Kashmiri chilli powder is known for its distinctive red colour, however it has a mild heat.. If you are using a different chilli powder you may wish to use less!
Soak the dahl overnight in cold water
After soaking, drain the lentils and place in a saucepan. Cover with cold water to a height of about 4cm over the lentils . Bring to the boil and simmer for around 45mins until tender.
Meanwhile, in a metal casserole dish or heavy saucepan, saute the onions in the butter with the cinnamon stick gently until golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic and saute gently for a further 5 mins.
Add the chilli powder, salt and tomato puree. Continue to cook for another couple of minutes then take off the heat.
When the lentils are cooked, keep just enough water in the pan to cover them and then stir in to the tomato and onion mixture.
Add the cream and 200ml of the milk.
At this stage we light up our Egg bbq with the diffuser heat setting to about 130C and throw in a good handful of wood chunks. Once the bbq is at temperature and the wood is burning with a clean smoke, we place the casserole in the bbq and cook gently for a few hours, stirring occasionally and adding the extra milk along with the Garam masala and a bit more salt halfway through this time.
If you are not using the bbq, just continue cooking the dahl on the stove, very gently, stirring every 10 mins or so to ensure it doesn’t stick and add the extra milk and garam masala after an hour or so.
The dahl is ready when it is thick and creamy but still has a distinct sauce. Eat on its own or as part of an Indian meal alongside Kulcha naan bread.