It's funny how cooking experiments go. The first time I made my beau dal with black lentils, AKA urad dal, it was a disaster. He could barely finish the plate, one of the few total flops in my cooking career with him. I was not going to let that happen a second time!
So I read carefully through many urad dal recipes (the uncooked dal was in the house, I wasn't going to waste it), and found Urad Dal Makhani, "Punjab truck stop food" as Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen noted, and it was a done deal. My beau lovvvvvved it. "Simple yet delicious and so satisfying." I asked him to say it again for the recording (just kidding!) But this is really one for regular rotation if you make dals. Even the teenager who doesn't like too much spice gobbled down leftovers!
I left out the traditional kidney beans because they don't agree with my digestion, but add them back in if you are a fan!Urad Dal Makhani (based on a recipe from Lisa's Kitchen)
3/4 cup dried whole urad dal
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 inch piece cinnamon stick
3 black cardamom pods
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 serrano peppers, deseeded and deveined, minced
2 teaspoons kashmiri chili powder
1/2 teaspoon mango (amchoor) powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 large tomato, diced
small handful of dried curry leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
Place beans in pot and pick out any stones or bad looking lentils. Cover with water and soak overnight or at least 12 hours. Drain and rinse several times and place in pot and cover with 3 cups of fresh water. Add turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and half of the ginger and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover, cooking for at least 1 hour. After an hour begin checking lentils; they should be soft, crushable with a wooden spoon. Usually it takes 75 minutes in my experience.
Meanwhile, heat ghee or oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot add cumin and fenugreek seeds, stirring for half a minute. Add remaining garlic, ginger, serrano and saute for another 2 minutes until they begin to soften. Add chili powder, mango powder, cayenne, and saute another minute until spices become aromatic. Add tomato, curry leaves and salt and stir well to combine. Turn heat down to simmer and allow mixture to cook down into a paste, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking.
Once beans are cooked, mased about 1/4 of them with a fork in the pot to create a thicker dal. Scrape tomato mixture into the dal and mix well. Cook dal over medium low heat for another 15 minutes to allow flavors combine. Remove cinnamon stick and cardamom pods and stir in cream and garam masala. Taste for salt and serve with naan or rice.