The Indian mainland is a cultural rainbow, only with more than seven colours. The India we see today is a picture made by the colours of many little occurrences and cultural visits. Apart from our own homegrown cuisines, many different countries have left their mark on the Indian states and their lifestyle, especially their food and unique recipes that they left for us to experiment with. For example, the original samosa didnt have potatoes, but meat. It was brought here by the Tughlaq dynasty from the areas of Iran (Persia). Indian cuisine makes food a way to connect people. One such dish that originated in the old, undivided India is the Dal Makhani.How dal makhani came to IndiaThe authentic taste of dal makhani can be found only in an old eatery in Delhi called Moti Mahal. Today it may have copies around Delhi and the world, but the real Moti Mahal dal makhani came here with the biggest human displacement that the continent had ever seen. Three friends who worked at a hotel in the Punjab region of current Pakistan, Kundan Lal Jaggi, Thakur Das Maggu and Kundan Lal Gujral, got separated during the 1947 Partition. They met at the refugee camps in Delhi and had a tough time before they decided to make something of their old skills. It was they who saved the roots of this dish and invented this creamy, healthy vegetarian delight.Even today, Kundan Lal Gujral is credited with having invented the Moti Mahal signature dal makhani, which added two ingredients that Punjabis from Pakistan never added to their dal beforetomatoes and cream. The signature Moti Mahal dal makhani recipe also calls for the addition of rajma or kidney beans and some amount of chana. On the other hand, as food critic Vir Sanghvi points out, other versions of the dal makhani are often made with just urad dal and sometimes with both urad dal and rajma.The Moti Mahal form of dal makhani is made with seven main ingredients- black dal (urad), kidney beans (rajma), butter (makkhan), and fresh cream (malai), tomatoes, ginger and garlic. You may think about the salt and pepper but thats a necessity without a doubt. Well get going with that and all the other powdered spices that go with the recipe. For now, you must note that this dish needs a lot of makkhan (butter) to stay true to the makhani part and a lot of time to slow cook the dal.Why this recipe worksHome-cooked dal makhani is a rarity in Indian households as it is essentially a restaurant-invented dish and requires a lot of work to cook. But the recipe that we bring can be cooked for a table of four at home. The essential part of cooking dal makhani is patience and preparation. You really have to prepare a day ahead with the dal and make sure that your butter supply is enough for 2 days of butter rotis.Dal makhani is always the greatest recipe you can try when youre celebrating with your family or in general when you really need that soul food comfort. It has all the richness of a royal dish, the nutrition required and a lot of creamy flavours that keeps you coming for more. Specialising in this recipe might be your chance to impress people at the first bite.What are the ingredients of dal makhaniDal makhani is certainly composed of more than just dal, butter and tomatoes. Heres the full list of dal makhani ingredients so go shopping if you need-The Dal (base)- 3/4th cup Whole Black Urad (sabut urad dal with the skin)- 1/2 cup Kidney Beans (soaked overnight)- Water to boil- Salt to tasteDal Makhani (body)- 2 tbsp of ghee (clarified butter for the tadka)- 3 cups butter- 1.5 cups fresh cream- 1 bay leaf / tej patta- 3 large tomatoes blended into a puree- 1 tbsp of finely chopped ginger and garlic- 1 large onion finely chopped- 1 tsp coriander powder- 1 tsp cumin powder- 1 tsp turmeric- 1 tsp degi mirch or Kashmiri red chilli powder- Salt to taste- 1 cup water- Asafoetida/hing as your taste allows- 1 tsp of garam masala (optional)How to Cook Dal MakhaniPreparing the dal for the dish is the most important part. The first thing that you have to do is to wash the dal. Many people suggest that you must wash it about four times. After youre done washing both the urad dal and the rajma, which you must do the previous night, put the dal to soak in water separately and sleep off. When you wake up the black urad dal will have turned a bit greener than last night and will increase in volumethe rajma will have increased in size as well.Cooking the dalAfter you drain the water from the dal its time to cook it. Always cook that dal in an open utensil. Some fast-paced people might advise pressure cookers but the dish is really a delight when you have the patience.Why shouldn't you pressure cook soaked black urad dal? Because it will melt down to become watery and your guest will be left only with skins of the dal. Remember dal is the base and you need that texture of pulses with every bite.So take twice the amount of water compared to your black urad dal and start boiling it on medium flame. When it comes to a boil it will release a frothy layer on the top. You must remove this layer with the help of a ladle and throw it away. This is the mildly toxic excretion of dals that may cause joint pain which is why rural Indian households always cook dal in an open vessel and filter this slow toxin. Cook the rajma separately in a similar way, then add to the common dal pot.Monish Gujral, Kundan Lals grandson, revealed in an interview that at Moti Mahal, they add milk at this stage to make the dals flavour buttery and the texture thick. For this recipe, instead, we will add two cups of butter to get the direct richness of the ingredient. Keep stirring the pot at regular intervals, and make sure the flame is low to ensure slow cookingwhich helps flavours develop even more.Adding the flavoursTo make the makhani sauce for the dal, youll need the clarified butter (ghee), finely chopped ginger, crushed and chopped garlic and tomato puree. Take a preheated pan and put two tablespoons of ghee. As the ghee crackles, add the bay leaf, ginger and garlic into the pan followed with chopped onions, and saute for 5-10 seconds. Now add the powdered spices in the following sequence: first add the red chilli powder, add turmeric powder, then add the cumin powder and then finish with the coriander powder as you begin to stir.Right after, add the tomato puree and stir for ten seconds before adding half a cup of water and stirring for a few more seconds. Make sure you add the water quickly as the reddish-orange colour will turn darker if left with just ghee.Once the sauce thickens, add another half a cup of water and cook for a minute. In the meanwhile go back to your dal and add another cup of butter and melt.Finishing the dal makhaniAfter cooking the dal for about forty minutes with the butter, take the tomato puree sauce and add it to the cooking dal. From this point on you shall only focus on stirring the mixture and mashing the dal to give it the creamy silk texture it is famous for.Cook the dal while stirring for another 20 minutes and then add the fresh cream and keep stirring. Now, the colour of the dal makhani should be light orange or brown. This is the right time to prepare to add the tadka. You can use ghee for the tadka. Heat up some ghee in a small tadka pan and add a bit of asafoetida, then flip the crackling mixture into the dal makhani and cover the lid instantly.For those who want to reduce the amount of ghee and just want the smokiness of tadka, you can use the dhungar method as well. Heres how to do that- take a small clay bowl, if not available a steel one will do. Take some burnt wood coal or a tightly knotted piece of coconut skin. Burn it over an open fire using tongs till it turns red. Instantly put the burnt charcoal in the bowl and keep it in the middle of the dal and drizzle two tablespoons of ghee on the charcoal, then immediately put the lid on and take the bowl out after 30 seconds.Your dal makhani is ready to serve with a dash of freshly chopped coriander leaves. But just in case things go haywire, here are a couple of most important notes to remember:Do not keep the flame on high when youre starting to cook the dal. Increase the flame only after youve added the tomato puree sauce.Dont add whole spices as they will be the deal-breaker in the creamy composition.When using the dhungar method try shifting your dal into a wider or shallow pan if your dal makhani is in larger quantities.Always try mashing the dal with the ladle when starting to cook with the tomato puree sauce. Do it as much as possible. It helps to bring the flavour of dal and seasoning together. Stay safe while cooking and be patient. Happy cooking!