Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dal Makhani- Pressure cooker and Crockpot versions


Almost everyone from Northern India makes Dal Makhani. I hadn’t thought two hoots about mine, until one friend commented about me using black-eyed peas in my version. Apparently, that was new. But this is how my mom always made it, and I’ve continued with her mix version as well. 

A staple during the the winter "Shaadi season” and in the restaurant menus; Dal Makhni is a delicious, rich blend of beans and lentils originating, I think, from the Western Punjab region. My best memories of this dish are from roadside dhabas that we encountered while traveling within the state of Punjab. Add to it their tandoori roti, raw sliced onion drenched in vinegar and a glass of lassi….sheer heaven. My recipes have never quite reached that level of comfort- and I think that’s because I generally tend to skimp on butter and cream. But if you don’t, then this is probably one of the easiest dishes to make. Here, I have for you the traditional pressure cooked version first, followed by how I tried to go low-cal by making it in a crock pot.


Dal Makhani




Kali Sabut Urad (Black lentils) 1 cup.
Rajma (red kidney beans) 1/4 cup
Lobia (Black eyed peaas) 1/4 cup
Water 3.5 cups + more to wash and soak (4.5 cups for slow cooker)
Onion 1 medium chopped
Ginger 1 inch piece chopped
Green chillies 2 chopped
Onions 2 medium chopped
Tomato puree 2-3 Tbsp
Salt to taste about 1.5 Tbsp
Red chilli powder 1/2 Tbsp
Coriander Powder 1Tbsp
Garam Masala 1/2 Tbsp
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Butter 2 Tbsp
Fresh heavy cream 1 Tbsp
Oil 1 Tbsp
Chopped coriander for garnish

Pressure cooker version:

  1. Pick, wash and soak the brand overnight. Then pressure cook with water and salt for 3 pressure whistles; followed by simmer on low-medium for another 15 min.
  2. Meanwhile, in another saucepan splutter the cumin in oil.
  3. Add the ginger-green chilli paste and sauté for a minute.
  4. Mix in the onions, sauté till translucent; then add the tomatoes, tomato puree, red chill powder and coriander powder.
  5. Cook till the oil leaves sides of the pan and tomatoes are cooked tender.
  6. Mix this tadka in with the dal, and give another 2 whistles in the pressure cooker.
  7. Stir in the garam masala and butter.
  8. Garnish with heavy cream and chopped coriander before serving.

Crockpot version:

  1. Pick, wash and soak the brand overnight. Then throw away that water and soak the lentils again in boiling water for another 1h at least. Discard the water
  2. Add the soaked lentils, fresh water, onions, tomatoes, ginger-chilli paste, tomato puree, salt, red chill powder and coriander powder and cook on Hi for 9h.
  3. Splutter the cumin seeds in oil and season when done.
  4. Sprinkle garam masala at the end.
My two cents: The pressure cooker version is my mom’s “authentic” recipe-  despite the addition of black-eyed peas. You can totally do steps 3-5 of the pressure cooker version and use it in the crockpot too. My objective of using the slow cooker is to be able to assemble and leave till I return in the evening- hence the short cut. In all honesty, I can’t appreciate the difference too much. I also skipped the butter and cream with slow cooking- but that’s your wish as well. Soaking in hot water I found was absolutely essential- otherwise the lentils didn’t cook well enough for my liking. After starting the soak in hot water, I let the lentils sit overnight before assembling the crockpot in the morning; and that worked for me. But you might have to play around a bit with times based on your slow cooker. Don’t have the calorific counts, but I think I did eliminate quite a bit of fat in the crockpot version.