Soak Prep Cook Serves 3 hr 20 min
3-6 hr+ (or 20-90 min in a pressure cooker
200g urad dal (black gram lentils)
25g chana dal (chickpea lentils)
50ml vegetable oil, plus 1 tbsp extra for frying
2 tsp salt
1 big tbsp ginger paste (peeled, finely chopped and ground to a paste)
1 big tbsp garlic paste (peeled, finely chopped and ground to a paste)
1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp Indian chilli powder 160g tomato puree 100g unsalted butter 50ml single cream 2 tsp dried fenugreek leaf, lightly roasted and ground A cooking technique used across India and south Asia, in which spices are dry-toasted and/or fried in ghee or oil, and used to flavour curries and dals
Wash the dals under cold running water until it runs clear. Put in a bowl, cover with warm water and leave to soak for at least three hours.
Drain the dal, tip into a pan, add the oil and salt, then cover with 1.2 litres warm water and cook on a low heat until the grains split and go soft – black dal is like a small, rock-hard bullet, so takes a long time to cook, anything from three to six hours-plus (traditionally, it’s cooked overnight on a charcoal tandoor). Alternatively, cook it in a pressure cooker on medium until done – pressure cookers vary hugely: mine’s a very old one with a whistle, and it takes about 90 minutes; more modern ones will be much faster.
Heat the tablespoon of oil in a heavy pan, add the ginger and garlic pastes, and stir on medium heat for two minutes, until they start to catch. Add the chilli powders and 100ml water, and cook, stirring, for a minute. Add the tomato puree, cook for 10-15 minutes, then stir into the dal pot and cook for 30 minutes, until combined. Add 90g butter and cook, stirring, for 15 minutes.
Stir in the cream and fenugreek, cook, stirring, for 15 minutes, then adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with the remaining butter on top. Prep Cook Serves 30 min 1 hr 4
50g toor dal
50g masoor dal
(split red lentils)
25g chana dal (chickpea lentils)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground turmeric
To temper the dal
1 tbsp vegetable oil 15g ghee
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
¼ tsp asafoetida (also known as hing)
3 red chillies, split lengthways
30g red onion, finely chopped
50g tomatoes, chopped Salt
½ tsp red chilli powder 1 tsp ground coriander ½ tsp ground turmeric 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
Wash all the dals under cold running water until it runs clear. Put in a bowl, cover with warm water, soak for around 30 minutes, then drain.
Tip the dal into a deep casserole, add the salt, ghee and turmeric, add water to cover, then bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover and leave to cook until very soft and tender – about an hour.
To temper the dal, heat the oil and ghee in a frying pan, add the cumin and stir until it starts to crackle. Add the garlic, asafoetida and chillies, and stir for two minutes, until they begin to darken.
Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring, until it turns golden brown. Stir in the tomatoes and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, for five to six minutes, until very soft. Add all the ground spices and about five tablespoons of water, and stir until the water evaporates and the spices begin to separate.
Tip into the dal pot, mix together and cook for a minute or two, just to combine. Season to taste, garnish with coriander and serve with basmati rice or naan.
Recipes by Karam Sethi, co-owner of Gymkhana, Hoppers, Brigadiers and Trishna restaurants