How to make the perfect dal makhani | Felicity Cloake

There’s dal, and then there’s dal makhani . Here’s how to make this gently spiced, luxuriant and defiantly rich Indian dish

While dal, a general word for dried lentils, pulses and beans, as well as the infinite variety of cooked dishes they’re made into, is an everyday staple across the Indian subcontinent, dal makhani is, according to chef Maunika Gowardhan, “in a league of its own”. It’s saved, in the main, for weddings and other celebrations – and not only because the longer you cook it, the better it gets. It’s also unapologetically rich; makhani means “buttery” in Hindi.

Niki Segnit sums the spirit of the dish up perfectly in Lateral Cooking, when she describes it as “the dal equivalent of Joël Robuchon’s famously opulent puree de pomme de terre, except you don’t even have to pretend to want anything else to go with it”. Meera Sodha reckons it’s “one of the world’s finest dishes”, and all you need is a little patience, and a lot of ghee.


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