I bought a slow cooker/crockpot years ago when I used to eat meat, tempted by all those promises of perfectly tender stews that cooked up by themselves while you slept or went to work. I probably used it a half a dozen times and then, once I turned vegan, it went right into the kitchen graveyard along with my poultry roaster, turkey baster and tenderizing mallet.
Then recently, browsing through Usha’s blog, I saw her recipe for Dal Makhani made in a crockpot. I had been looking for a recipe to send to Nupur’s Blog Bites: Cookers event, and I love Dal Makhani which I usually just make on the stove top, so everything seemed to be just fortuitously coming together.
I’ve never used my crockpot for cooking beans, partly because most recipes I saw require you to boil the beans and lentils beforehand which — I think– pretty much defeats the purpose of one-pot cooking. But in her recipe, Usha just asks you to soak the beans and lentils for about eight hours, which sounded doable. (You do need to saute the onions and tomatoes and spices separately before adding them to the lentils in the crockpot).
I made just a couple of changes to Usha’s recipe. For one, I added a handful of kasoori methi leaves to the makhani halfway through the cooking, at the stage where she recommends adding salt.
And of course, since mine is a dairy-free kitchen, I finished the dish with a tablespoon of vegan butter or margarine (I use Earth Balance), which gave it a creamy flourish that was just perfect.
The makhani was rich and flavorful, and the slow cooking really enhanced the richness of the lentils and the spices while also allowing them to meld smoothly with each other. Wonderful.
Since it’s St. Patty’s Day tomorrow, I couldn’t help but repost a link to my totally vegan, totally delicious whole-wheat Irish soda bread. Enjoy it with a pat of vegan margarine or by itself.