Restaurants by Monish Gujral

Dal Makhani History: Punjabi Recipe That Revolutionized The Face Of Black Lentils Forever

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The non-vegetarians across the country can’t thank the inventor of the Butter Chicken enough, for bestowing upon mankind the ever-so creamy and sumptuous delight. The vegetarians on the other hand, echo similar sentiments about Dal Makkhani. Now for those who are a fan of both the delicacies, we’ll make the job easier for you. Did you know that both the dishes were the brainchild of a single man, who came up with the lip-smacking recipe(s) in a bid to make his ingredients last longer.

It is said that Kundan Lal Gujral, founder of Moti Mahal chain of restaurants, revolutionized the traditional preparation of black urad lentil. Kundan Lal Gujaral was working in Mukhey da Dhaba run by Mokha Singh in Peshawar around the ’40s. There came a time when Mokha Singh’s health deteriorated and he eventually had to sell the shop to Gujral who renamed it as Moti Mahal. Post partition, Gujaral migrated to Delhi and carried on the legacy to establish Moti Mahal as the food institution we know today.

Black whole urad dal (black gram) served with hot rotis was a specialty of West Pakistan, which Gujaral brought along with him as he crossed the national frontiers and included it in his dhaba menu. However, the turning point for the traditional black urad dal preparation came about when Gujaral mixed cream and tomatoes (as a souring agent) to the dal. No Punjabi had ever done this before. Even if they did require a souring agent, yogurt was used.

The invention of Dal Makhni is closely linked with the invention of Butter Chicken. To save the chicken hanging on the seekhs above the tandoor all day from drying out, he came up with the brilliant idea of simmering the chicken in a luscious gravy with tomatoes, butter, cream and some spices to help them retain moisture. He applied the same recipe with his black urad dal, and gave birth to Dal Makhani too around the same time.

Nowadays, you find Dal Makhani as a staple in all North Indian restaurants across the country. You can too cook the buttery delicacy at home with this recipe

Recipe of Dal Makahni
By Chef Niru Gupta

Ingredients Of Dal Makhani

  • 2 cups sabut urad dal
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, finely sliced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp shahi jeera
  • 1 tsp kasoori meethi
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1.5 cups cream
  • Green chillies, slit lengthwise for garnishing

How To Make Dal Makhani

1.To the daal, add water, 1 Tbsp salt and ginger. Cook until daal becomes tender.

2.In a heavy based pan, heat butter and oil. Add shahi jeera and kasoori methi. When they begin to splutter, add tomato puree, remaining salt, chilli powder and sugar.

3.Stir-fry over high flame, till the oil separates.

4.Add cooked daal and bring to boil. The consistency should be such that the daal should move around freely when stirred, otherwise add a little water.

5.Leave to simmer, uncovered, till well blended. Stir-in cream and once it gets heated through, serve immediately, garnished with green chillies

About Sushmita Sengupta
Sharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.

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