When Kevin and I lived in NYC, there was an Indian restaurant a few blocks away that was a substantial cut above and beyond all the other casual Indian restaurants I have ever been to. It was called Earthen Oven, which sadly no longer exists. I guess when we moved they lost a substantial portion of their takeout business.
One of the dishes that we loved was Dal Durga, a creamed black lentil dish. While I was flipping through Dances with Spices, I came across a recipe for Makhani Dal, which was creamed lentils and kidney beans, and sounded pretty similar to our favorite Earthen Oven dish, so I gave it a whirl. And I'm so happy I did.
Adapted from Dances with Spices
1 cup dried kidney beans (you have to soak the beans the night before making the recipe--if you don't want to do that, you could substitute three 15-oz cans of kidney beans)
1 cup brown or green lentils
2 TBS ghee (you can make your own from one of the many recipes on the internet, but I bought mine from a store what you think I have time for making it myself?)
1 small onion, minced
1 TBS minced fresh ginger
1 TBS minced garlic
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs and stem removed, minced
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 tsp salt, or to taste (I think I added about a 1/2 tsp more)
1 cup half and half, or whole milk if you must
2 TBS minced cilantro
Served 4 to 6 as main course
Place the kidney beans (not the lentils) in a bowl and cover with water by at least 2 inches. Let soak 8 hours or overnight. I put mine in the refrigerator because I wasn't going to get to them until 24 hours afterwards.
Anyway, when you're ready to cook, drain the kidney beans and rinse them along with the lentils. Place legumes in a saucepan and add about 5 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, until beans are tender but not mushy, about 45 minutes. Then drain dem bad boys.
Now for the aromatics.
Heat the ghee in a large saucepan or pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and serrano and cook until onion turns light brown, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the coriander, cumin, and black pepper. Stir for about 30 seconds and add the tomato paste. Continue to stir for about 5 minutes.
Add the legumes, salt and milk.
Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cilantro.
Serve with basmati rice. Ta-da!
Have you tried to recreate a favorite restaurant dish? How did it go?