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Kaali Daal


This recipe for Kaali Daal comes from India and was commissioned to compliment the earlier published article entitled Indian Cooking . . . how did it become so popular?

Daal or lentils are one of the first crops that were domesticated in the near Far East and are mainly eaten with rice in south east Asian countries.

Kaali daal is a very famous vegetarian dish of north India. The meaning of kaali daal is black gram (black lentils) or urad dal, it is also called dal makhani (makhan means butter) due to the use of liberal amounts of butter in it. In the Punjab region of India, it is more popular with the name of mah di daal.

It is an essential part of an Indian wedding menu and is a well-known dish in highway motels or dhabhas.

Highly nutritious, rich and wholesome meal; it is rich in carbohydrates and protein, so very healthy for growing children. When it is mixed with grains such as rice, it is a full protein diet. However it also has some anti-nutritional factors as it is high in phytates but this can be removed by soaking daal in warm water overnight.

It goes well with butter chicken and can be eaten with boiled rice, chapattis or naan. It is not only a famous restaurant food but cooked in most Indian households. Calorie conscious people can reduce the amount of cream and ghee in it, it will still taste nice.

Ingredients for Kaali Daal

2 cups black lentils
2 big onions (chopped)
2 big tomatoes (chopped)
2 green chillies (chopped)
Ginger and garlic paste
Cumin seeds
Salt to taste
Pinch of asafoetida (hing)
Coriander powder
Fresh coriander
Cumin powder
Red chilli powder
Garam masala
Double cream
Cooking oil
Ghee (clarified butter)

How to make Kaali Daal

  • Wash and soak the lentils overnight. Drain, discard the water and boil in fresh water with salt and turmeric either in a pressure cooker or in a more traditional way using a handi (heavy bottomed pan used in the Punjab region of India).
  • If using a handi, cover the handi with another small pan containing water, and whilst cooking keep adding water from this pan into the daal until it is boiled (this traditional way tastes better than the pressure cooker way).
  • In another pan heat oil, add the chopped onions and ginger and garlic paste and fry until it leaves the oil. Add chopped tomatoes and green chillies, salt, asafoetida, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, turmeric and garam masala. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the boiled daal into the pan and add more water if needed to make the consistency thick.
  • Add the cream and take off the heat.
  • Heat ghee in a small pan or tadka pan, add cumin seeds. When it shops splattering pour over the daal.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander.

Serve with naan or tandoori roti with side vegetables or butter chicken. It compliments buttermilk or salted lassi, salad, papad and pickles. A healthy diet for all age groups.

"Just a comment about the quantity of ingredients in this series of recipes, I would say that most people add in different amounts according to how they like it. Recipes are either normally passed on or people learn by experimenting with different amounts of spices until they get the taste they like, for example, I know I put different amounts of thngs into curries than my family and friends do, everyone does tend to work out how much they like."

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Harpreet Virdee



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