Dal Makani is a superbly rich dish, packed so full of energy that it’s been dubbed the marching food of the troops heading into battles. Preparation and patience are the key to this dish as the lentils have to be soaked for hours and then cooked until soft. But you’ll be rewarded with a luxurious dish of spices, ghee, cream and butter.
How to make it… 1. Wash all the lentils (urad, rajma and chana dhal) in water. You will need to rinse through them a few times until the milkiness clears. Now soak them for at least six hours or preferably overnight. 2. Boil the lentils in fresh water with the salt. Simmer on low heat until lentils are well cooked and soft. This will take three to four hours, although you could use a pressure cooker to speed up the process. 3. Drain off the excess water and mesh the lentils lightly. If they are not soft enough you will need to cook them for longer. 4. Mix the Spice Mix with enough water to create a sloppy paste. 5. Heat the ghee in a pan until hot. Add the cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and stir fry for 15 seconds. They should sizzle immediately. You can test the ghee is hot enough by adding one seed. 6. Add garlic and ginger and fry for 1 minute on a lower heat. You may have to remove the pan from the heat initially to stop it burning. (If it burns then throw it away and start again.) 7. Add Spice Mix and tomato puree and stir for 1 minute. 8. Add the cooked dal, 1 Tablespoon of butter and the cream (keep a tiny bit back for the garnish) mix well and warm though. The dal should be the consistency of a thick but pourable soup. Add hot water to achieve this consistency if needed. 9. Serve with a swirl of cream as garnish and the rest of the butter in the middle (this will quickly melt). • Recipe and photos courtesy of Gurkha’s Inn, Greenwich.