Since I’m majoring in dals right now, I am trying to make the experience about as much fun as my waistline — and Jay’s tastebuds — can handle. Therefore, this deceptively luscious Dal Bukhara.
There are many stories woven around India’s famous restaurant foods and how they originated, but Dal Bukhara comes with a true pedigree — it was created in the kitchen of what is often called the finest hotel in India: the Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi. Apparently a whole lot of thought went into making this — now considered the hotel’s signature dish — different from Dal Makhani, that other famous restaurant dal that served as the inspiration. While the Maurya’s own recipe is a closely held secret, the fact is that most other versions of these two famous dals do end up resembling each other rather closely, except that Makhani also uses kidney beans or rajma.
Both dals use cream and butter rather generously, but you can rest assured that my vegan Dal Bukhara has neither, and yet it does not fall short on flavor, thanks to a few simple spices used deftly. Even better, since you’re not cooking for a high-priced menu at a fancy restaurant, you don’t have to worry about slow-cooking your dal over coals for 18 hours, like the Maurya claims it does. This version is ready in under an hour, once you have your dal all pressure-cooked.
I am going to keep the chatter short for tonight. It’s late, Jay’s long been asleep, and as much as I love you, I do need to spend some quality time with my television set. But here’s this lovely, creamy dish that you’ll no doubt be cooking again and again, whether or not you have a picky six-year-old in your home.
- 1½ cups udad dal with skin on (you can use the whole or halved lentil). Cook the dal until really tender (pressure cooker works best for this, but you can also presoak overnight, then cook on the stovetop in a hardy pan, covered with at least an inch of water, for an hour or until the dal gets really soft)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp turmeric
- I-inch knob of ginger, finely grated
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 11/2 cups tomato puree
- ¼ cup kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves, sold at Indian stores)
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp vegan butter, like Earth Balance
- ½ cup chopped coriander (use spring onions for a fun variation-- I did. Use the green and white parts of one bunch)
- Heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds. When they darken slightly, add the ginger and garlic and saute for a few seconds, then add the coriander and cumin powders, tomato puree, kasoori methi, cayenne and turmeric.
- Stir and cook until the tomato puree darkens and most of the moisture has evaporated.
- Add the cooked dal and stir well to mix. If the dal is too thick, add water to make it more fluid-- you want it to be runny but still fairly thick.
- Bring the dal to a boil, lower the heat, and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Add the garam masala, stir in, and then add the vegan butter and salt to taste.
- Sprinkle on the coriander or spring onions, turn off the heat, and serve hot with some rice or naan.