This is a recipe that is being constantly tweeked:
- 1 ½ cups Urad Dhal (black whole), picked over and rinsed
- 1 ½ cups rajma (red beans or kidney beans), picked over and rinsed
- ½ cup channa dhal, picked over and rinsed
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ cup ghee, or ½ cup butter plus a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil
- 1 medium to large onion
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 – 4 jalapeno peppers
- 1 ½ tsp fresh ginger
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
- 1 tsp red chili powder (from Indian market, not “chili powder”)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander (dhaniya) powder
- large pinch of cardamom powder, or two pods, lightly crushed
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp salt — definitely to taste — you need to taste it
- ½ cup whipping cream
- ½ cup milk
- cilantro, chopped, to taste (a handful or less)
- half of a lemon
- water, if needed
CAREFULLY pick over the dhal and beans prior to soaking! All the hard work of making this dish will be all for naught if you're crunching on stones and mud clumps!
Soak dhal and beans overnight*, covered with water in a large pot; drain after soaking. Refill the pot with water to cover the bean and dhal mixture and add the teaspoon of turmeric to the water; cook them over a medium to low flame until soft; this can take a few hours. Drain well, and mash the mixture lightly.
Grind onion, garlic, ginger, and peppers in a food processor. Chop tomatoes.
In a dutch oven, heat the ghee until hot. Add the ground onion mixture and fry until browned. Add the red chili powder, cumin, coriander powder, cardamom, tomatoes, and garam masala, and cook till toasted (don’t burn).
Add the mashed dhal and beans to the dutch oven, and allow to simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream and milk, as well as salt. Mix well, heat through; add water to get the consistency that you like. Add coriander and lemon juice just before serving.
Serve with basmati rice, and/or naan.
* The Quick Soak Method of soaking the dhal can be used: place the dhal in a large pot, and cover generously with water. Bring to a rolling boil. Boil for two minutes, then turn off the heat. Let sit, undisturbed, for 2 hours. Voila! Pre-soaked dhal in less than 2 1/2 hours!