Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dal Makhani

Mmmmmm, Indian comfort food! Dal Makhani is a creamy, spicy lentil dish that Andy and I just love. It can be served with rice or with Indian bread, like naan.

Some of the ingredients may sound foreign, and they are! But they're easy to find at my favorite Indian grocer, Laxmi Palace. This place is a world of fun for people who like to cook. The array of spices, legumes, breads, rices--you will be dizzied by the selection. Who knew there were a million different kinds of lentils?? And the prices are fantastic. The spices come in large, larger, huge and ginormous sizes. Same with the rice and all the kinds of flour I'd never heard of before, like chickpea flour. In addition to raw materials, they have a huge selection of prepared Indian foods, semi-prepared mixes that you add to meats and veggies, and an especially impressive pick of chutneys and pickles. Oh, and dishes and pots and pans and gadgets and beauty products. I insist that you go.

I found this recipe on a blog called Hooked on Heat. The pictures on the blog were so pretty, I got sucked in. I've made dal makhani before--there are lots of recipes for it all over the internet. This recipe is cooked in a pressure cooker.

Now I'm about to carry on about pressure cookers. For those of you (the unenlightened) who don't have one, I bet your mom does. They must have crested in popularity sometime in the early sixties. My mom had one, and she was anything but a gourmet cook. The deal with pressure cookers is that they cook stuff really fast. I don't know how it works, but it does brilliantly, and it involves pressure and gaskets and jiggly things on the lid. I use it a lot for beans and lentils, because it will take a fraction of the time it takes in a regular pan on the stovetop. For instance, chickpeas take for-frickin-ever to cook on the stove in a regular pot--like 2 hours minimum. In the pressure cooker, about 15 minutes or so. Andy got ours at Target for about 40 bucks, and it's great. I don't cook meat much, but I hear tell you can cook a piece of meat really fast and it comes out extremely tender and moist.

Anyway, here's the link to the recipe:

Ours turned out just like the picture, honest! You'll just have to believe me, because the pix didn't turn out, alas.


Karen said...

Hi Neen!

Yea! Pressure cooking is da bomb!
I'm sure they go back to the forties in fact. Mom always used one, and I've been using one since 1970. Used to cook dinosaur in mine. ; ) Came out pretty tender too!

We're nuts for lentils, all of us; and that dish sounds so good. My mouth waters just reading your recipe.

Don't know if you would ever have an occasion for cooking turkey breast, but pressure cooking will make one very moist and juicy -- a type of meat that is characteristically dry. Especially delicious if you cook it with many root veggies and celery.

The exceptional thing about pressure cooking is that you cook with such speed, little water -- just enough to create adequate steam. All of these factors are so important in keeping the nutrient value in your food -- whatever you're cooking. It's very easy to over-cook veggies though. Some of the more delicate veggies like cauliflower and broccoli may take only 3 or 4 minutes to cook -- lest you end up with a sulfurous stinky pasty mess. But, Boy, when you get it right, it's the best! Hard squashes cook in the blink of an eye.

Do you soak your dried chickpeas first? When I make beans or peas from dried, I bring a pot of water to the boil, dump in my peas or beans/legumes or whatever, turn the gas off and cover them. They soak for quite awhile, then they cook up pretty fast. You can even soak them overnight.

I used to do this with marrowfat peas. They used to come dried in a box (Batchelor's Bigga brand) with a mint tablet for soaking. Andy will know what these are. I can only find them in the can anymmore. But they're still delicious.

I made a nice Scottish/English dinner for Trevor, the stepfather of one of our neighbors before he returned to England. I did an apple/walnut salad, steak pie, marrofat peas, real tiny redskin potatoes boiled with pearl onions (what a b--ch to peel) in a milk dill sauce, and raspberry trifle for dessert, with nice thick shavings of very dark chocolate on top of organic whipped cream flavored with a touch of rum.

Nobody went home hungry.

Hope this thing wasn't inappropriately long. I've never done blogging before yours, so if it is, forgive me and let me know.

Did you know that if you boil potatoes and onions together in the same pot, the onions will make the potatoes real creamy. My Mama taught me that. They are so good.
Nana, as we all call her now, was such a fantastic cook. Talk about homemade breads, Finnish style. Between Mom and Grandma, my family is well-fed.

andy said...

Pressure cookers do seem to be experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Everybody's mom had one, didn't they? There are tons of websites telling how to use them. They're kinda scary without instructions.

I do soak my dried beans overnight. Chickpeas I soak for 24 hours usually!

Never heard of marrowfat peas. Are they an English product? Is that why Andy would know them?

The Scottish feast sounds positively orgasmic! Was this a new menu for you, or something you'd made before? Even though I don't eat meat anymore, I love the idea of a savory pie.

Janine Serresseque said...

Um, I just realized that I left that last comment as Andy. It's not Andy. It's me, Janine. Duh.

Karen said...

Hi Janine,
Here are two different versions of the peas. Batchelors Bigga Marrowfat Processed Peas, drained wt. 200g. $1.79/can. These have mint flavouring. Campbell Grocery Products Ltd., P.O. Box 1086, Hardwick Road, King's Lynn, PE30 4FB. England.

The second one is Batchelors Processed Peas drained wt. 302g. $2.39/can. These have no mint flavouring. Batchelors Ltd., 72-74 Bannow Road, Cabra West, Dublin 7, Ireland.

Andy may know them as 'mushy peas', although my mother-in-law taught me to just barely heat them through and serve them intact. I'm sure they're much nicer intact rather than allowing them to turn mushy. You have to watch them like a hawk, because they'll turn mushy in a matter of seconds.

I used to get the ones dried in the box w/the mint tablet, but they don't have them any more. Hope you'll be able to find them. They're lovely. You might try a Scotch Bakehouse, if you have one around you; or perhaps an import store. Good luck! ;)