As you may or may not remember, my friend Henry and I took a vegetarian Indian cooking class last October, where we learned to make vegetable kofta curry, palak paneer, mango chutney, and one of our favorite Indian dishes ever, dal makhani. In December, we revisited those recipes and made kofta curry and dal makhani for ourselves and Tyler. Recently, I made dal makhani myself at home, and (as is my tendency) I made the recipe healthier and a bit more accessible. Since, as you know, I don’t mind having tons of leftovers, I made a biiig batch, with a full pound of lentils. Don’t be dismayed by its large size, though—it keeps extremely well, and it tastes even better the next day.
1 lb lentils
2T corn or canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1T minced garlic, or garlic paste
1T minced ginger, or ginger paste
1 large onion, diced
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
10-oz. can diced tomatoes w/green chiles (like Ro-Tel)
8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp coriander
Salt to taste
Rinse the lentils and pick out any bad ones. In an extra-large saucepan, submerge them in 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring regularly. Drain in a colander when done. While the lentils are working, cook yourself some rice. I like brown basmati with homemade Indian food, but feel free to use whatever you have.
In another large saucepan (or just wait until the lentils are done and use the same one), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger, and cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the diced tomatoes, with their juice, and cook and stir for 5 more minutes.
Add the tomato sauce, then the garam masala, chili powder, turmeric, and coriander.
Gently stir in the kidney beans, then the lentils.
Add water until it reaches a thick but saucy consistency. Season with salt to taste. If you want to make it a little richer, you can mix in 2-4T of Earth Balance (or ghee, if you’re so inclined) at the end. “Makhani” does mean “butter,” after all, but I find it’s just as good without it.
Spoon up some rice, top it with a nice big scoop of the dal, and crown it with a sprinkle of cilantro. It’s super thick and hearty, with a robust balance of spices. I’m not a fan of traditional comfort food, so I prefer to say farewell to winter with something still warm and soothing, but a little more exotic—this fits the bill perfectly.
Yield: 8 servings. Per serving, without rice: 300 calories, 5g fat (trace sat), 48g carbs, 21g fiber, 18g protein.