27 July, 2007

Dal Makhani

Bombay-Goa highway, few hungry students, time well past the lunch hours, speeding bikes at 100 kms per hour, hot and sizzling afternoon… With few ten rupees notes stuck in our pocket we obviously didn’t dare to enter some plush and expensive restaurants with swanky ambience and attentive maitre d’ to greet us with fake smile plasttered. We took a detour to one of the small eat-out joints where you can’t expect to see cushioned chairs and tables in an air conditioned room with soothing music playing in the background. There you will hear blaring sound of Bhangra music and see one small shed which is a cooking area with tandoor (earthen oven half buried in ground) in one corner and huge gas burners cooking creamy and delicious Punjabi food in big metal pots. In an open air, the coir woven wooden cots and a big wooden plank served as a seating and table arrangements. Then came our maitre d’, a small boy in a blue checks knickers and vest who greeted us by slapping a big steel tumbler of water on the rickety table. When we asked for the menu, the little boy started rattling off without pausing for breath… Dal-makhani Dal-fry Aloo-gobi Palak-paneer Matar-paneer Mushroom-masala... With some training the boy surely could give Shankar Mahadevan run for his money with his own album called ‘Dhaba Breathless’ ;) With in few minutes we were served Roties, red onion and green chilli in a big Thali and array of curries filled in generous sized bowls. It didn’t take very long for us to lick the plate clean while the Daler Mehendi sang away ‘Bolo Ta Ra Ra’ in the background.

Yes my friends, I am talking about a Dhaba, which is a small road side restaurant offering quick service to truck drivers and people like me who can go on and on with my love affair with Dhaba food. Originally located on major highways, where they were supposed to cater to truck drivers on long distance travels, these dhabas have now become a popular option with students, professionals and even families. For students like us Dhaba was a god sent gift which not only served delicious food but also at very reasonable cost.

This month’s RCI did took me down the memory lane and I have been cooking Punjabi delicacies one after the other. One Punjabi food I always loved is Dal Makhani. The whole Urad dal and Red Kidney beans simmered in creamy gravy of butter, onion, tomatoes and spices with a liberal dose of cream is something to die for. Butter, spices and cream??? Oh!!! Did I hear some grumblings from my weight conscious friends? You can substitute the cream with yogurt and reduce the amount of Butter to make equally delicious healthier version of Dal Makhani. But I do love to indulge in luxury of rich Indian food once in a while and forget about my expanding waistline ;)

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Dal Makhani with Poori

Dal Makhani
Prep Time: 10-15 mins (excluding soaking time)
Cooking Time: 30-45 mins
Serves: 3-4

1 cup whole Urad Dal/Black Lentils
½ cup Rajma/Red Kidney Beans
2 medium Onions, chopped very finely
2 large Tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
2 Green Chillies, slit
2-3 tbsp Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Coriander Powder
½ tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
½ tsp Anaar Daana Powder/Amchur Powder (optional)
½ tbsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Kasuri Methi(optional)
2-3 tbsp Butter
½ cup Cream/1 cup Yogurt, beaten
Salt to taste
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Dal Makhani

Soak whole Urad dal and rajma in 3 cups of water overnight.
Next day pressure cook the soaked lentils in 3 cups of water with salt, turmeric powder for about 2 whistles or 15 minutes(approx). Cooked dal should feel soft to touch.
Let the pressure cooker cool down completely before opening the lid. Stain the water and keep it aside. Now lightly mash the cooked dal with a ladle or masher and keep it aside.
Melt about 1 tbsp of butter in a pan and to this add cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds start to splutter, add slit green chillies, kasuri methi and ginger-garlic paste and sauté it for around 30 seconds.
Now add finely chopped onions and sauté them over a medium heat for around 2-3 minutes till they turn golden yellow.
Mix in finely chopped tomatoes and sauté it for around 3 minutes.
Add coriander powder, kashmiri chilli powder and garam masala and sauté it for a minute or so till you get nice aroma.
Mix the cooked dal with about one and half cup of water (use the reserved dal water also). Add remaining butter, amchur/anaar daana powder and mix well.
Cover the pan and cook on a medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes till the gravy starts to thicken. I have found that the more time you cook the dal, tastier it is to eat. Adjust the seasoning as per your preference.
Mix in the cream or yogurt and cook again for another 5 minutes in a low heat. Garnish with finely chopped coriander and serve hot with Roties or Rice or Poories(puffed Indian bread) as I did.

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Dal Makhani

Did You Know?
The Vedic and Epic period was socially and culturally prolific in the Punjab. During this period, the Hindu scriptures, the Rig Veda and the Upanishads, were composed in the Punjab.
Tradition maintains that the sage Valmiki composed the Ramayana near the present location of Amritsar.
In legend, Krishna delivered the divine message of the Bhagavad Gita at Kurukshetra.
Eighteen principal Puranas were written in the region. The authors of Vishnu Purana and the Shiva Purana belonged to Central Punjab.
Ancient Punjabi Culture during the period of the Indus valley civilization is one of high sophistication and many world firsts, such as the world's first planned cities. Ancient Punjabi Culture is a counterpart of ancient Chinese culture, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and of ancient Greece.
(Source: Wikipedia)


  1. Oaky! I am here but are you going take of the post after I comment?! Hahaha!!
    I have NEVER seen and been to a Dhaba before in my life.My brother used to go to Delhi often and he would tell us about it, may be one day when we visit Delhi.
    Dal Makhani looks great.Usually served with Parathas, Pooris look yummy there too!Glad you made it on the last day for RCI or is it just for you! Oriya is on,I am not familiar with that state at all!:)
    LOL at all diet conscious peeps cribbing about butter and cream.I like to be little plumper side myself.You know, I don't have one single wrinkle on my face! True!!
    Have a great weekend Sups.Hugs.

  2. Looks great! I always love your end notes...

  3. Hi,
    it's okay to not watch weight for this kind of dish.well who can resist the rich creamy dal makhani.
    loved the post.

  4. Great post, so much information. Love the Dal too, never cooked Dal Makhani before, I am looking forward to trying.

  5. Eating at dhabas has its own share of fun....we do once in a while drive down to the dhabas near our place......dal makhani looks very inviting

  6. for the last one week, bloggers are driving madly down the memory lane with dhabas on the road sides and I a m madly homesick as well:) No comparisons to dhaba food and ofcourse our 10 rupees note was enough for a sumptous meal!! your dish looks rich and creamy and yes i did think of your expanding waistline when i saw that poori :))))

    Take care

  7. WOW YUM! Looking excellent Sia, puri jothe writeup about the dabba is very good.ok dear gotto to go good i checked before i left to office :) have a great weekend bye

  8. Dhaba food rocks! Dal makhni looks delicious

  9. Lovely write and equally lovely recipe, Sia. Those pooris look yummy! yes, dhabas are good, aren't they-the food is great :).

    have a fun weekend,

  10. This is lovely... I really need to get my bean intake up!

  11. I love eating at dhabas too whenver I visit India since I love punjabi food - the food tastes so authentic there.

    Just read your reply to my comment on your last post. Thanks for your encouragement but I cant even dream of participating in any of the food events yet - cooking for me is a chore unlike you all who love cooking and sharing your wonderful recipies and I am just learning to cook food from all you wonderful and enthusiatic food bloggers !

    I make daal makhani very often as my kids love it with hot rotis :-) And what is punjabi food if it doesnt have richness of butter, ghee and cream !

  12. Forget calories.. Dhaba food is atrociously tasty!

  13. I too go with Asha's first line LOL!! just kidding.
    I too ve never been to Dabha. My hubby says it has a very spicy food.
    your pics are drool worthy. makes me hungry.

  14. Sia, just the dish for a rainy weather. Looks wonderful, your story about Dhaba made me long for the road side poratta stalls that are comming in Tamilnadu. I have never cooked with whole Ural Dal, but love Red Kidney beans. Should give this a try.

  15. hey, dhaba's sure are such a fav with youngsters right :) hostelites always prefer going to the dhaba :) dal looks very tempting, love the puris anytime ;)

  16. WOW!!! I am in a dreamland now with all the road side dhaba style joints sitting on a khatiya and licking my fingers thru the dals!!! ;)

    Anchur in dal makhni is new to me!! And it looks great al always! :)

  17. I'm crazy, I'm up at 5.30 am on a weekend, reading your lovely write up and proceeding to read the recipe and now badly craving for dal makhani!!! My tummy is growling for some just now!!!!!!

  18. Dhaba breathless, so true. they rattle off the menu so fast :)The dal makhni is looking too good in that white bowl. Gr8 recipe Sups :)

  19. Looks yummm...the kasuri methi and amchur powder lend a taste of their own.... i used to make it the same way as you do before i tried out the Tarla dalal recipe. dal makhani is always heavenly...

  20. great looking dal...very nice


  21. Nice pic....good recipe. I made Dal Makhani too thinking that I'd send it in as my entry for RCI, but somehow I never got around to posting the recipe.

  22. You are right! Dhabas are more interesting. I had been there once during my trip to Pilani. I loved it.

    Dal Makhani is inviting.

  23. My dal makhani both times I made it turned out grey and unattractive, and as usual, it was a humongous amount. Never made it after that! Yours looks nice.

  24. You know I have often seen these kind of eateries in Hindi movies. But never have actually been to one. I don't know but one is not sure what the kitchen looks like you know. But Sia, your version is brilliant and I think I will try and get that Dhaba flare at home on the weekend!

  25. The makhani looks great Sia...
    I love dhaba food too. This one trip to Delhi almost all of us had an upset stomach (some food poisoning) so we had to stick to idlis and curd rice (!) but when our tour bus stopped at a dhaba we just couldn't resist and decided we'll just pop more tablets, and ate to our heart's content... :)

  26. Sia, your write-up was really good.
    Dal makhani very tempting. I just loved your second pic!

  27. Beautiful writing...your words bring that dhaba and the bunch of college students alive. And how those little boys rattled off, I can still hear that....very very beautifully written Sups

    Have never made Dal makhani...Wanted to make something for RCI but little S is down with high fever and there is very little cooking time at home :(

  28. Hi, Dalmakhani looks superb. Never tried. I will try this very soon. Huge information. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend.

  29. Hey Sia, Great pictures. This is the same way I make it and it taste awesome. Loved the post.

  30. dhaba breathless, indeed. i love these places. i've seen a truck driver down 3 glasses of lassi and two large bowls of chicken curry, plus countless rotis. then he grinned and told me, he's going to be driving non-stop from bombay to hyderabad - after a nap, of course.

  31. Hi Sups,,

    Dal makhani sound and looks rich and delicious...by the way perfect entry for the event too...'
    Nice writeup....:))

  32. Hi Sups,
    Great recipe and after reading abt your dhaba experience I felt I was reading about my own experience. My friends and I used to go these dhabas on kanakpura and there is another one called rinku dhaba near nandi hills. Ah! those good ol days (sigh).

  33. Your Dal Makhani looks yum! No fancy restaurant can ever beat the earthy, homely taste of dhaba food.

  34. I loved going to dabhas, inexpensive, great food... there were so many in hyd, I used to drive down about 30 miles and that too in the evening, eat out looking at the stars in the cool breeze, it was fantastic....

  35. Gosh.....heaven on a plate....I loved dhaba foods when we travelled all over India....what a treat that was...just something about eating by the roadside while the "bhaiyyas" fry or knead away.....
    man, oh man, that daal and puri look delicious!

    thanks for your message! I haven't been getting home until 9:00-10:00 at night..been real busy with both the businesses and such.

    hugs to you,

  36. WOW.....What a great recipe here....looks very delicious with nice photo....Thanks for so much nice information with recipe.:)

  37. As usual nice write up sia. Love to read your write up always. The dal makhani is tempting really. Viji

  38. Hi Sia, Dal Makhani with Poori......yummm. Your pics are wonderful. LOL about those diet concious comments. I dont think I can ever think about dieting. How can I miss all those delicious food. Have a gr8 weekend Sia.

  39. I miss dhaba food in US, but in CA we use to go to chat house and it was close to dhaba food taste.:) Yummy dal makhani Sia.

  40. Oh.. What an amazing spread Sia. The first thing that came to my mind was the dabba place that we ate at in the middle of the hills on our way to the top of Kedhar. The taste still lingers.. the cold night.. with hot chilly curry and naan.. and a campfire. It was truly a wonderful night. Thanks for the recipe.

  41. oh the dhabas... I miss them too... though I never visited one when I was studying, we had our Kerala dhabas aka Thattukadas for that... Yep, a 10 rupee note goes a long way there :)... Great writing sup.... and the dal makhani looks great, great pics... I just have to substitute rajma with chicken :)

  42. Your Dal makhani looks delish!

  43. Hi Supriya,

    There is a place here too, while not open-air, is called Punjabi Dhaba and bills itself as a truck-stop type restaurant. For the city, it is that: step up to the counter, order your dish and then carry it to your bench or your car. I laughed at your recollection of the little maitre'd and his recitation ;)

    Dal makhani is a guilty fav of mine too -- I will try your yummy version with yogurt :)

  44. NICE! Quintessential comfort food. I am niw hankering for some Dhaba food. Btw, you have been tagged!

  45. The dal makhani looks absolutely delicious...loved the 'dhaba breathless' bit :D

  46. Dal makhani looks great...... So creamy....Perfect pictures...... Nice combo.....Mouth watering one....Love it...

  47. @ashakka,
    nope...this time i am not gonna delete this post;) LOL...
    so r u done with ur homework for RCI-orissa?;) do share some notes with us:)

    thanks dear:)

    i second ur thoughts:)

  48. @saju,
    girl, do try dal makhani. its one of the yummilicious thing i have ever eaten:)

    @bha the don;)
    oh wow...lucky u to get a chance to eat @ real dhabas... i envy u dear:)

    blame richa for asking us o cook punjabi dish;) made atta to make paratas but at last moment changed my mind and went for real fat food;) he he he...

  49. @roopa,
    he he he...girl u r addicted to blogging for sure:)

    @roopa #2:)
    thanks my dear:) and yeah dhaba food rocks:)

    thanks sweetie:)

  50. @anh,
    thanks my dear:) u surely guarenteed to get good portion of bean intake:)

    thanks my dear:) blog events are for fun and participate only if u want:) i too miss many of them coz of time constraints. i agree with u on learning new recipes from bloggers. thanks to blogsphere that we get to learn new things everyday and i am not just talking abt food:)
    by the way, do post ur recipe for dal makhani for us:)

    i agree:)

  51. @sharmi,
    LOL...yeah yeah... make fun of me;)
    not all dhaba foods are spicy. do try them when u get chance to visit one:)

    oh those parotta stalls... i too love them indo:) this was the first time i cook this dish with whole urad dal. its got very nutty and creamy flavour.

    yeah,and when u have very limited money in the end of the month dhaba's r the best place to hangout n eat:)

  52. @coffee,
    he he he... r u still lost in dream land?;) i like little khatta taste:) so thats why i have added amchur n its optional:)

    LOL... girl, i cant imagine eating dal makhani @5.30 in the morn:) and i cant even think of getting up that early in the morn on weekdays also, forget abt weekend:)

    thanks my dear:)

  53. @priyanka,
    so which one do u think is better? this way or tarla dalal's? i got to check mrs. dalal's recipe.

    thanks dear:)

    a warm welcome to spice corner:) it happens with me also. i cook for the blog events but most of the times i dont get time to post:)

  54. @seeC,
    u bet:)

    ha ha ha... i followed my friend's recipe n it turned out quite good:) grey n unattractive is okay with me as long as it tastes good;)

    oh, talk abt bollywood movies;) they do exaggerate to some extent. i hope u do get chance to eat @ authentic dhabas coz nothing like eating right from the tandoor and open oven:)

  55. @laavanya,
    LOL...oh girl!!! i surely can understand ur cravings for dhaba food inspite of not keeping well:)

    a warm welcome to spice corner n thank u for ur kind words:)

    oh!!! i am flying high san:) ur words means a lot to me u know:)
    i am so sorry to know that little S is not keeping well. sending her good wishes and kisses. hope she gets well soon. blog events r not that important when it comes to lil precious:)

  56. @jyothi,
    thanks my dear n a warm welcome to spice corner:)

    thanks dear:) good to know that u make it same way:)

    LOL... i have seen one driver eat more than that and say proudly he has big appettie;)

  57. @usha,
    thank u darling but wait!!! this is not a entry for RCI:)

    u know what i have not seen any proper dhabas in b'lore. i got to check the ones u mentioned next time i visit.

    oh yes...i totally agree with u:)

  58. @dee,
    girl, u sound just like me:) good old hostel days n eating with friends @dhaba.

    thanks dear:)

    he he...u surely sound quite nostalgic @ a moment sweetie:)
    i guessed as much. sounds like u r really busy these days. tc my dear:) will mail u soon once i finish all my training and workshops.

  59. @kajal,
    i am glad to know u enjoyed it dear:)

    i am glad to know u go through all my rants viji. thank u:)

    he he... diet for me is like mixing oil in water;) so i dont think too much as long as i burn out all the cal wile exercising:)

  60. @shivapriya,
    u r really lucky to get some good chats dear:) me n my hubby r on hunt for authentic indian food here in uk;)

    thank u:)

    now u r making me crave for chilly curry n naan on starry night dear:)

  61. @sig,
    he he he... if given a chance u will substitute everything with chicken i guess;) LOL...

    thanks and warm welcome to spice corner:)

    oh wow... thats quite close to desi dhabas u can get. i am now green with envy dear:) i dont think we have such places here:(
    use cream if u r ok with little cal coz i feel authentic dal makhani must be creamy with cream:)

  62. @dhana,
    thanks my dear:) n thank u for tagging me but i have posted my meme in previous post:)

    thanks dear:)

    thanks girl n i hope u do try n taste this delicious dish someday:)

  63. Hi Sia,
    Great entry for RcI. Dal looks creamy !!!! Thanks for sharing.

  64. Dal Makhani looks perfect ..Dhaba food tastes great Supriya. I once had dinner in a dhaba in delhi and loved it.

  65. Dal Makhani looks very yummy with Puri my mouth is watering baby.......Great dinner.:)

  66. I love Dhabha food, I used to have on Bombay-Pune/Bombay-Nasik highway...they are so simple yet to tasty delights...thanks for shring yet another mouthwatering recipe

  67. @prema, kajal and padma,
    thank u girls:)

  68. This was a wonderful recipe. If you are looking for some more Dal Makhani Recipesthen check out this link.

  69. Dear Sia,

    Every now and then I use your recipe to cook it for my wife. And that twinkle in her eye after the taste is something I have started yearning for. Thank you for this and all the otherlovely recipes.



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