One of the very first Indian dishes I tried was Dal Makhani (creamy stewed indian black lentils), and I was in love. More often than not I crave a great veggie chili with lots of beans and fresh veggies on a cold winter day. To find an Indian dish that had the unique flavor of Indian food, with the belly warming satisfaction of chili…Ah-Maz-ing! This comforting dish gave me the courage to be more adventurous with my Indian food choices, and now there really isn’t a vegetarian Indian dish that I’ve met that I don’t like. I could seriously eat Indian food every day, but I was starting to feel guilty asking Derika to go out for Indian food as often as I would like.
This year we found out that Derika was chosen to go to India to work on a water sustainability project, and I could not have been more thrilled. She would be there for a month (which is a long time), but I was secretly hoping one of two things would happen. That either she would take some amazing Indian cooking classes while she was there, and come home and share her mad skills with me. Or second, that she would return with a love of Indian food similar to my mine. Well, she has returned and one of my hopes did come true…she now craves the crap out of indian food…Yay!! Her new love of Indian food has made me even more motivated to be adventurous with my indian cooking at home. Also the fact that Santa brought me a crock pot for Christmas doesn’t hurt either, so bring on the Indian food cooking adventures!!!
Below is a great photo that Derika took of the Taj Mahal, while on her trip to India…I hope that someday I get to see it in person. Oh yeah, I also wouldn’t mind eating a samosa or ten while I am watching the sunrise over the Taj Mahal…just sayin’. 😉
- 2 1/2 Cups Whole Black Urad Dhal (black lentils)
- 1.5 Cups Dried Red Kidney Beans
- 2 TBS Butter
- 2 TBS Canola Oil
- 1/2 Can Tomato Paste
- 1 Inch Fresh Ginger (thinly sliced then pounded in a mortar or finely minced)
- 1 Small Yellow Onion, chopped
- 6 Cloves Garlic, chopped
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 1-1/2 Tsp Whole Cumin Seeds
- 1-1/2 Tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 Tsp Cayenne
- 1 Tsp Garam Masala
- 2 Dried Indian Red Dry Chillies (Derika got these from India)
- 1/8 Tsp Black Pepper
- 2 Tsp Salt plus to taste
- 1 Tsp Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream or Buttermilk or Coconut Milk (for vegans)
- Chopped Cilantro for serving
- Pour lentils on a cookie sheet (there are often small stones) and pick over beans. Rinse them well in a strainer.
- Put your lentils and your kidney beans each in their own bowl and soak at least 8 hours (or overnight) in water 3 inches over the top.
- Drain, and place them in the container of a slow cooker (crock pot).
- Add butter, oil, tomato paste, ginger, onion, garlic, bay leaves and ground spices (but not salt). Add boiling water to 2 inches above surface of lentils and kidney beans.
- Heat 1 hour on high cook setting, then reduce to low and let simmer overnight or all day, and let your lentils hang out with each other for about 10-12 hours.
- Add salt and sugar and mix to coarsely break up lentils and beans. Add water if needed to give a soupy consistency. Let heat 10 more minutes, then stir in cream or evaporated milk. After 10 minutes, taste, and add salt if needed.
Serve sprinkled generously with chopped cilantro and eat the living day light out of it….Enjoy!
*Note – This dish tastes best when the lentils have time to slow cook. You can make this dish in a heavy bottom pan on the stove, just bring it to a boil and simmer on low until the Dal is a thick consistent approx. 2 hours.
Also, you could easily add some tofu cubes (fried or not) and some kale to the bottom of your bowl and top it with the Dal for a more well-balanced meal… I am getting hungry just thinking about it.