Kaali Daal, Daal Bukhara, Maa ki Daal, or sometimes Daal makhani. One daal, so many names. This daal is creamy, aromatic, rich and luxuriant. It is gently spiced and has a similar flavour to many chicken dishes from north India. Kali daal is a popular daal found in roadside stalls in north India. Daals are an everyday staple in Indian households, so what's the fuss about this one? Kaali daal is not a daal that is cooked regularly in most homes. In my home, we never cooked this daal due to certain superstitions. I was introduced to this daal when my grandfather took me to a famous restaurant - Bukhara. This daal was so decadent and creamy that I was instantly obsessed as a fussy eater. Later in my career as a chef, I worked for the hotel chain that introduced me to this daal. There, I learnt the secrets that I share with you here.
An ideal accompaniment to this daal is some delicious laccha paratha.
I have some other daal recipes for you to try. For basic daal, look at my arhar daal recipe or my simple one-pot aubergine daal. Perhaps you may like to try my Bengali chana daal with coconut? A breakfast idea awaits you with my moth daal. I also have a saag daal that uses carrot tops (yes, they are edible).
- Black Urad daal
- Tomato paste
- Garam masala
- Chilli powder
- Green chilli
- Vegan block butter
- Vegan cream
See the recipe card for quantities.
Soak the black Urad daal overnight or for at least six hours. After soaking, rinse the daal.
Add the daal to a pot and add the water. Cover and bring to a rapid boil. Once the dal is boiling, reduce the heat and remove any scum/foam that forms. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook the daal for 1 hour, until the daal is soft and breaks when pressed between your fingers.
Crush the ginger and garlic (I use a Microplane to grate them) to make a ginger/garlic paste.
Melt half of the vegan butter in a frying pan and fry the garlic/ginger paste for a few minutes.
Add the tomato paste, and mix to combine. Fry for ten minutes until fragrant and the colour of the paste turns a bit brownish. Then add red chilli powder and mix to combine.
Add this paste to the simmering daal, season with salt, cover, and cook for another hour. Occasionally stir the daal to ensure it doesn't get stuck to the bottom of the pot.
After two hours of cooking, the daal should be thick and creamy. Now add the remaining butter to the daal and mix to combine. Add garam masala and cover. Cook for another half an hour over low heat. Stir often to prevent the daal from getting stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Finally, finish with single vegan cream. Add kasoori methi (dried fenugreek) and a slit green chilli, if using, at this point. Cover and cook for another half an hour over low heat. Stir often to ensure nothing gets stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Garnish with vegan cream and serve hot with Laccha paratha or rice.
Freshly pureed tomatoes can replace the tomato puree; make sure to cook them through to remove the raw flavour of the tomatoes.
If not vegan, you can use dairy butter and cream.
This is my version of the Kaali daal, based on the Daal Bukhara. Many people also use whole spices while cooking this daal and onions in the tomato-ginger-garlic paste.
Heavy-bottomed pot with a lid.
This dal can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days; make sure to reheat thoroughly. This dal tastes even better the day after.
You can freeze this dal for about three months in an airtight container; ensure you reheat it thoroughly before consuming it.
The secret to this dal is slow cooking. No pressure cooking, and no instant pots. In fact, in the Bukhara restaurant, the dal is left on a turned-off hot plate to cook all night gently; twenty-four hours is the usual time. Patience and slow cooking will reward you with the most buttery, creamy and rich Daal. The longer you cook this daal, the more creamy it gets. The creaminess comes from the urad dal slowly disintegrating and becoming mushy.
Kaali Daal Recipe
- 200 g Black Urad daal
- 20 g Garlic
- 20 g Ginger
- 100 g Tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon Red chilli powder
- 50 g Vegan cream
- 100 g Vegan butter
- 1.5 l Water
- 1 teaspoon Garam masala powder
- 1 Green chilli, slit in half optional
- 1 tablespoon Kasoori methi leaves Optional, but highly recommended
- Soak the black Urad daal overnight or for at least six hours.
- After soaking, rinse the daal. Add the daal to a pot and add the water. Cover and bring to a rapid boil. Once the dal is boiling, reduce the heat and remove any scum/foam that forms. Cover the pot, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook the daal for 60 minutes, until the daal is soft and breaks when pressed between your fingers.
- While the daal is simmering, melt half the vegan butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for a few minutes.
- Add tomato paste, mix to combine, and fry for 10 minutes until fragrant and the colour of the paste turns a bit brownish.
- Add the red chilli powder and mix to combine. Add this paste to the simmering daal, season with salt, and cover and cook for another 60 minutes. Occasionally stir the daal to ensure it doesn't get stuck in the bottom of the pot.
- After two hours of cooking, the daal should be thick and creamy. Now add the remaining butter to the daal and mix to combine. Add the garam masala and cover. Cook for another 30 minutes over low heat. Make sure you often stir so that the daal doesn't get stuck in the bottom of the pot.
- Finally, finish by adding the single vegan cream. Add kasoori methi and a slit green chilli at this point if using. Cover and cook for a final 30 minutes over low heat. Stir often to ensure nothing gets stuck at the bottom of the pan.
- The dal is ready to serve. Garnish with cream and serve hot with Laccha paratha or rice.
In a professional kitchen, food hygiene and safety are top priorities, and from the beginning of my training, I practised good habits and routines. Of course, practising good food hygiene and safety at home is also essential. Here are some fundamental practices to adopt in the kitchen.
- Wash your hands regularly while preparing, handling and cooking food.
- Wipe down countertops and high-contact points regularly.
- If you cook meat and fish, do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat. Use separate chopping boards for meat and fish. Wash your chopping boards immediately after use.
- Thoroughly cook food to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C).
- Don't leave food at room temperature for extended periods (more than 2 hours).
- Store food correctly.
For more details regarding food hygiene and safety in the home, visit the UK Government's Food Standards Agency webpage.