Shahi Dal, as the name advocates, is creamy, aromatic and rich urad dal stew cooked with milk, ghee and fistful of almonds. The split black lentils are soaked overnight and rubbed between the figures to gently scrub off the dark outer covering from the dal. Then the favorite kitchen aid pressure cooker takes its routine place over the gas stove, in which lentil along with other dairy accompaniments are cooked under pressure until al dente. While the pressure cooker exhales like a steam engine releasing the moisture, tadka for the dal is prepared by sweating onions and tomato. At last the tadka and the dal are incorporated into one sizzling, bubbling plat du jour called as Shahi Dal.
The memories of our most awaited trip to Agra last year were reanimated with this delicious dal. That grandeur Mughal architecture painted in the shades of red and brown are always a wanderer’s delight. The scorching sun and the soaring high noon temperature also could not hamper our spirit for sightseeing the city of Taj Mahal. Like the true traveling enthusiasts, we pulled out our summer shades, camera and with distilled water bottles in hand marched out of the hotel for site seeing. After inhaling the gulps of hot dry air we reached on the historic location sweating, panting and exhausted but the mere glimpse of these majestic, glorious royal structures transported us to the era we have only read about in the school history course books.
With the sun changing its position by each passing hour, one get to witness the different shades of the beauty of these monuments; somewhere dark and moody, while on the other side bright and hopeful, standing tall with pride and glory below the umbrella of light blue sky outshining from the crowd. The stories of our trip are endless and I can talk relentlessly when it comes to Indian history, but for now, this Shahi Dal is the quintessential culinary souvenir from my trip to the city of Mughals.
Shahi Dal (Urad Dal Creamy Stew)
Shahi Dal, as the name advocates, is creamy, aromatic and rich urad dal stew cooked with milk, ghee and fistful of almonds.
1/2 cup urad dal (split black lentils)
8 blanched almonds (badam), cut into halves
1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
2 cardamom pods crushed
salt to taste
1 cup milk
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 medium size ripe tomato, finely chopped
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala (see recipe here)
To make Shahi Dal, first clean, wash and soak the urad dal in enough water for 6 hours or overnight.
Combine the urad dal, turmeric powder, cardamom pods, a tablespoon of ghee, milk, salt and 1/2 cup of water in a pressure cooker, mix well to combine and pressure cook for 2 whistles over medium heat or till urad dal gets cooked. Make sure urad dal does not get over cooked and turn mushy. Allow the steam of pressure cooker to escape naturally before opening the lid.
Gently whisk the dal with the spoon to thicken it.
Next heat the remaining ghee in a deep pan and add the cumin seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the onions, garlic ginger paste and sauté on a medium flame till onion turns soft and light brown in color.
Add the chopped tomatoes, chilli powder and garam masala, mix well and cook on a medium flame till tomato pieces are soft and mushy, while stirring occasionally.
Once the oil starts separating from the masala, add the whisked dal, stir to combine.
Taste the dal and adjust the salt accordingly. Let the dal simmer over low heat for few minutes. Turn off the heat.
Garnish Shahi Dal with blanched almond slices and coriander leaves. Serve hot with jeera rice or chapati.
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The “Shahi Dal” is part of an endeavor to create a collection of recipes of Indian Cuisine in collaboration with a few bloggers who share the same passion of cooking. Here is the Pinterest Board collection of recipes.
You can read more traditional Awadhi Recipes by #thekitchendivas: