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Dal Bukhara (Creamy Indian Black Lentils)

2 cups black lentils
2 large pieces of cinnamon or cassia bark
2 large bay leaves

Spice Mix:

1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
½ tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
5 long, mild red Kashmiri chillies
2 small short, hot chillies
2 inches cassia bark or cinnamon
5 whole cloves
1 pod of black cardamom, seeds removed (or 2 green cardamoms, left whole)
½ a star anise
2 dried bay leaves

Rest of the Dish

1 tablespoon butter + an extra ½ tablespoon to garnish
2 tablespoons oil (use vegetable or canola or grapeseed)
1 small onion, diced fine
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon hot cayenne or chilli powder (opt)
Small tin tomato paste (5.5 oz)
1 cup + a little more of hot water
2 cups plain yoghurt
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup light cream
Large handful finely chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)

Method:

Soak the black lentils in cold water overnight.

The next day, rinse and pick over the lentils, then place them in a large pot along with the cinnamon sticks and the bay leaves, and cover with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda (bicarb of soda) to the lentils, and bring to the boil. Boil hard for 5 - 10 minutes, skimming off any scum that rises to the top. Turn down the heat, then simmer, topping up with hot water ocasionally, for between 40 minutes - 1 and half hour. The lentils are cooked when they are soft, but just about holding their shape. Drain, remove the cinnamon and bay leaves, and place back in a pot.

To make the spice mix, toss the ingredients in a hot pan, shaking and stirring constantly for about 30 - 45 seconds, until fragrant. Grind them to a fine powder in a spice grinder (or an old coffee grinder) Keep aside.

In an oven safe large pot (I use my Le Creuset), heat 1 tablespoon of butter and the oil. Add the onion, and cook for 5 - 8 minutes, until the onion softens, and just begins to colour.

Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute.

Add the tomato paste, the spice mix, garam masala, ground cinnamon and chilli powder, if using, and stir well, using a little hot water to loosen the paste, if its too thick.

Cook for about 10 minutes, then add the drained lentils. Stir together, and slowly add the yoghurt, little by little until well incorporated. Cook for about 5 minutes, adding a little more water if the dal is too thick and creamy. Add the salt to taste, and stir the sugar.

Preheat the oven to 150 C.

Cover the pot tightly with foil, and place its lid on top, if it has one.

Place in the low oven for 1 - 2 hours. If you're keeping it in longer, turn the oven down to 120 C, then you can keep the pot in it for up to four hours, until ready to serve.

To serve, take the pot out of the oven, and stir in the cream, butter and fresh coriander. Adjust the seasoning to your taste again, adding a little more salt if required.

Serve with rice, naan or any Indian bread.

Note: If you are making this in large quantities for the freezer, take out of the oven, and let it cool completely. Freeze in meal sized portions. You can reheat in the microwave or the hob, once thawed. Do not add the cream/ butter/ cilantro before freezing, you can add it just after reheating.

Recipe from: http://foodfootballandababy.blogspot.com/
Author: Michelle Peters - Jones
Please do not plagiarise

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