16 August 2010

dahl 1 for butter, 2 for ghee, or dahl zero for the operator

my friend dan claims he's incompetent at cooking because he's scared of poisoning himself. i think if he's gone through 20+ years of feeding himself, and if you've only poisioned yourself once, it's a good start.

dan, however, is a vegetarian, not to mention a busy and talented artist. he is also a self-proclaimed lazy and terrible cook, and might actually be malnourished and anemic as a result.

so i said to dan, "dan, you should eat probably more legumes. it'll probably help with your anemia."

and dan said, "i'm not sure i want stuff up my butt."

"dan, i said 'anemia', not 'enema'."

i told him this lentil and beans dish will help him regain brain red blood cells he's missed out on due to his narcotics vegetarian habits. after eating half the dish, he asked that i make it for him again, to which i said he can make it himself by following these simple steps!

[murgh makhani (butter chicken) and not dahl makhani... guess my chicken fixation got the best of me.]

dahl makhani* (buttery lentils, i guess)
serves a 4 to 6

4.5oz (~125g) (dry weight) black lentils (~3/4 cup dry, or ~300g cooked)**
1.75oz (~50g) red (dry weight) kidney beans (~125g cooked)**
1.75oz (~50g) chickpeas (dry weight) or channa dahl (smaller chickpeas, aka gram dahl) (~125g cooked)**
2 cloves garlic
1 small bay leaf

1/2 onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp (!5ml)  ginger, finely julienned or chopped (reserve half)
1 tsp (5ml) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) ground fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) garam masala
3/4 to 1 cup (175ml to 250ml) tomato puree (or 2 medium tomatoes you've cooked down)
1 Tbsp (15ml) finely ground cashews (or almonds)
salt/pepper to taste

1/4 to 1/2 cup (65ml to 125ml) heavy cream
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) garam masala
2 Tbsp (30ml) butter or ghee
chopped coriander for garnish
  1. prepare the legumes/protein: if using dried, sort and rinse the lentils, and then cook them (~20 min); rinse and soak red kidney beans and chickpeas for a 4-6 hours or overnight. cook them in enough boiling salted water with garlic cloves, bay leaf, and some cooking oil (to keep the foaming down) until cooked through (~40 min). drain, remove garlic and bay leaf and set aside. if using canned, skip the cooking step; just rinse. set aside.
  2. prepare the gravy: cook  heat butter or vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook onions until translucent. add garlic, half of ginger, cumin, fenugreek, and 1/2 tsp garam masala and cook until fragrant (a couple of minutes).
  3. complete the gravy: add tomato puree and ground cashew to onion mix and stir occasionally until thoroughly heated. 
  4. add the protein: add the cooked kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils to the gravy. simmer for another 15 min or so.
  5. finish the dish.when ready, stir in cream, garam masala, butter and remaining ginger to the dish until heated through. serve by garnishing with chopped coriander. eat liberally with naan, rice, or whatever you want.
*you can make this dish with chicken (especially if you like dead fowl like i do). marinade about 1/2 lb (~250g to 300g) chicken bits with a yogurt-ginger-garlic-tumeric-salt and then pan-fry the chicken before adding the gravy/curry to it, as you would the lentils/beans.

** you can used canned versions which is about 2.5x the dry weight.


  1. Even though I now figure prominently in your food blog, who's to say I can overcome my laziness and actually make the dish? Well, I guess I'll try, just cuz you typed out all those nice words. I'll definitely be buying the pre-cooked beans tho. Saves time, and I don't have to worry about poisoning myself if I soak them too long/ not long enough. Do I mush the protein/legumes together afterwards, or just let them coexist in a big puddle?
    I guess I need to come up with a rating system. I'm thinking either ☕☕☕☕☕'s or ☎☎☎☎☎'s or ⸭⸭⸭⸭⸭'s or ㋛㋛㋛㋛㋛'s or ☃☃☃☃☃'s.

  2. Are black lentils the same as brown lentils? Otherwise I dont know where I can get those in Paris. Can this be made with other kinds of lentils? It looks so good I really want to give it a try.

  3. i think you can make this with whatever lentils you want. you'll just need to adjust cooking times.

    for instance, brown lentils will get mushy if you cook them too long, so reducing the cooking time when you put them back in the gravy is ideal.

    black lentils (urud dahl) are slightly denser so hold their shape after cooking.

    maybe try le puy lentils which are more common and hold their shape well, if you can't get to a marché indien?

  4. I was in a rush, so I didn't measure out the ingredients too carefully. And it came out half way between chili and dahl. But very good chili-dahl! I will remember to go easy on the ground tomato, next time. I liked how EZ it was to make -- just basically combine and heat up all the ingredients together.

    The only downside is the amount of ingredients it takes. Like, holy crap Michelle, 17 ingredients? I guess some of those are spices, but still. You must understand I am a busy man with a narcotics habit. Do I have the time to gather this many cans of so and so? But the cooking part is very quick, and makes up for this small misgiving.

    Here is a photo of my version side-by-side yours for comparison.

    All in all, a very good, hearty dish. Out of five snowmen, I give it ☃☃☃☃. If only the shopping list was not so long, and I wasn't such a lazy nudnik surely it would have scored another snowman.

    Thanks and I am looking forward to more recipes, if you should do me the honour of another post tagged "dan."