Maa ki Daal
India is the land of pulses. From thick creamy and spicy dal to light and mild tasting dals . From coriander leaves to curry leaves the variety of pulses will amaze you. I like mine thick, smooth, creamy and silky.
This pulse originates in the Land of five rivers, "Punjab" the land of wheat, the land of cheerfulness , the colourful vivacious land of India. It is thick , creamy and utterly butterly delicious. Most people which included me as well till a few years ago would incorrectly think that Maa ki daal mena Mother's dal but such is not the case, Mah means mush in Punjab because this pusle is mushy, creamy and gorgeous. Of course mother's love is but incorporated in the recipe itself.
There were those good old times when the pulse after being soaked for 8 to 12 hours would be cooked overnight or till 12 hours for it rich thickness. Of course those were the times of large families, and huge cauldron of pulse.
Now there are a number of ways to cook the pulse, if you check recipes you shall find the internet overflowing with recipes for maa ki daal and different families have different takes on it. I am following one such mother's recipe from Punjab. Usually the food up in that lovely land is spicy , creamy and rich. The rela deal to getting the creamiest of creamy dals is to still cook it for over 3 hours and stirring constantly.
Using oil is completely inadvisable and would be similar to not using butter in a recipe for butter cakes. The melt in the mouth texture comes from cooking the pulse for 2 hours to 4 hours in case you pressure cook the pusle. Now generally in Punjabi homes there is a full flavoured garam masala ready to be used but of course the ingredients of garam masala changes as per the different cuisines and for people who like variety for their it is best they use fresh small quantities of spcies to make garam masala because if you make a large amount of garam masala and store it for long it loses that robust aroma and flavour. This recipe calls for what I call the 4 ps of spcies (cumin, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom)
What you need
3/4th cup of whole urad pulse
1/4th cup of rajma (use the big ones which take less time for cooking)
Salt as per taste
4 to 5.5 cups of water
4 heaped tbsp desi ghee
8 to 9 garlic cloves (These are Indian cloves of garlic which are much smaller in size than the large ones available elsewhere)
1.5 inch ginger
1 large onion finely chopped
1 large tomato roughly pureed
2 black cardamom
1 inch cinnamon
1 large bay leaf
1.5 heaped tsp cumin powder
1 heaped tsp red chili powder
1.5 tsp dry roasted and ground coriander powder
Pinch of turmeric
2 tbsp fresh cream
1 tbsp whisked / whipped yogurt
Chopped fresh corainder for garnishing
3 to 4 green chilies.
1 tbsp butter
Soak the pulse overnight and in the morning wash the pulse and put it in the pressure cooker with 4 cups of water. Cook on low flame for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let the pressure go down on its own.
Now heat 2 tbsp ghee in a heavy bottomed kadai and add the finely chopped onions and then add the roughly mashed ginger garlic , saute this till the raw smell of the spices change to a beautiful tempting one and the onions are translucent. crush your dry spices and add them and then add the roughly pureed tomato and the bay leaf . Cook on high for 1 minute and then simmer to cook the spices well.
Once you find the oil separating add the chili powder, cumin powder and coriander powder along with turmeric an stir for 1 minute and then add the pulse. I had originally planned to cook the pulse for 4 hours but the amount being less I needed 2 hours inclusive of the boiling of the pulse .
So add your pulse. The 1 hour cooking should have made the pulse absorb all the water . So add 1 cup of water and simmer. Your flame must always be on low. All you need to do now is check every 10 minutes for the next 2 hours and keep stirring vigorously every 10 minutes to prevent the pulse from sticking tot he bottom. Keep a big ladle ready to mash the pulse after an hour of cooking.
Once the dal is thick and luscious add 2 tbsp ghee and the yogurt and mix well. You shall see a beautiful shine to tempt you. Keep stirring. If you feel its a bit dry another half cup of warm water and bring to a boil and switch off gas . Take off from stove add the cream , butter and add 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves and 3 to 4 green chilies and serve immediately with hot and soft phulkas or fluffy long grained basmati rice .
- For the summers 3 tbsp ghee is what I use
- I always grind my spices at home and it does make the dal extra delicious against packaged spices
- At times I leave out the yogurt and it gives the dal a whole new flavour.