Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dal Makhani with Punjabi Cabbage

Indian food has been sorely neglected in my kitchen recently. We all used to love frequent Indian feasts at home, however the only way I seem to be able to get my troops enthused about it these days is to make koftas (which I have just promised to make again soon). Give me a bowl of nicely spiced dal any time and I am a happy camper.

The first time I sampled Dal Makhani was in a restaurant and I loved the creamy texture even though it was not spicy enough for my liking. I searched for a while and tried a few different versions and made up my own based upon these recipes. A girl of Indian heritage that I used to work with advised me that Dal Makhani is also known as the "Royal Dal" as it is commonly served at special occasions and weddings.

With a surplus of cabbage left-over from last night's cabbage rolls, I knew exactly how some of this could be put to good use. Punjabi Cabbage is another great vegie side I have made several times from my cookbook, The Food of India. It is a rather spicy dish so I decided to cut back on the spices by half this time. This turned out to be a bit too mild so it probably needs to be somewhere in between.  

The Dal Makhani was also toned down a little from how it used to be prepared and this time the result was perfect, so creamy and a nice balance of spices. It turned out to be one of the best dal recipes that I have prepared so I will stick to this formula in the future. A little planning is required as the dried lentils and kidney beans need to be soaked for about 8 hours prior to cooking.  

Dal Makhani

1 cup of dried black urad dal/black lentils
1/3 cup of dried red kidney beans
1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews
1 tablespoon dairy-free margarine
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
10 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 tomatoes, diced
salt to taste
fresh coriander leaves - finely chopped,to garnish

Soak the lentils and kidney beans together for 8 hours. Drain the water and rinse thoroughly. Place into a medium saucepan and fill with water until the pulses are covered and there is about 2cm of water above them. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for 1 hour.

Place the cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Soak for 1 hour.

Heat the margarine in a frying pan. Add cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle, then add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for a few minutes until softened then add turmeric, curry leaves, chilli powder, coriander and half of the garam masala. Stir for a minute then mix through the diced tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes have softened.

When the lentils and kidney beans have cooked for an hour, stir through the tomato and spices mixture. Add salt to taste, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. 

Place the cashews into a blender with a small amount of water and process for a few minutes until the mixture has a smooth and creamy texture.

Stir the extra garam masala, cashew cream and coriander through the lentils and serve. Use extra coriander for garnish.

Punjabi Cabbage (Adapted from The Food of India)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 green chilli, seeded and chopped finely
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups green cabbage, finely shredded
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon dairy-free margarine

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the cumin seeds until sizzling and fragrant then add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli, fry until softened but not browned. Add the turmeric, 
salt, pepper, ground cumin and coriander to the saucepan and stir through. Mix in the cabbage, stirring thoroughly until all the leaves are coated in the spices.

Cook for 10 minutes with the pan partially covered, stirring occasionally until the cabbage is soft. If the cabbage becomes too dry and starts sticking to the pan, add 1-2 tablespoons water. Stir in the margarine and season with salt, to taste.


  1. love dal makhani but am quite taken by your punjabi cabbage - I always end up with a lot to use up so this would be perfect

  2. Thanks Johanna, punjabi cabbage has been a favourite of ours for quite some time. If you have a food processor with a grating disc you can use this to shred the cabbage which makes it pretty easy to throw together.


    So previouly i've hated cabbage with a PASSION! ( traumatic memories of parents "chow-mein" as a kid = major taste aversion ), apart from my beloved okonomiyaki that is =]
    With the sudden hit of winter-chills i decided to do the soupy thing and add in some sliced cabbage convincing myself it was worth buying ( admittedly the amount that actually made the pot was considerably miniscule! Hehe ). HEAPS OF CABBAGE LEFT led me here and O-M-G! Cabbage WHERE HAVE U BEEN ALL MY LIFE! Haha this is amazing! Super delicious! Impossible achieved! U got me enjoying some cabbage!

    Thanks for an awesome dinner o(^▽^)o

    1. Yay, I'm so glad that this recipe was a success for you and many thanks for your feedback! This is one of my favourite ways to eat cabbage and it's been a very popular addition to family curry nights too.

  4. Can't get enough of dal makhani when I eat out at Indian restaurants, so I look forward to making it myself at home!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! We still enjoy this dal makhani on an semi-regular basis and I hope you do too. Thanks also for reminding me of this post as it was such a long time ago - this photo was taken with a very old camera and I really should update the photos of these curries to do them better justice.