Dal Makhani

Weeknights are such a balancing act – I won’t bore you with the laundry list of things that need to be done (including the actual laundry), but like every one else, there’s always something that needs to be done, or somewhere we need to be. Between myself, two active kids, an active dog, and a husband who works long hours with a long commute, you can usually find me from the hours of 4-8pm Monday-Friday in some degree of hectic rush. Now, I’m not complaining, not really. I’m grateful to have a job I love, even if it doesn’t always “finish at 3” (ugh). I’m grateful that my kids are active and social, and have found sports and activities that they love, and that hubby and I are in a position to let them explore those interests. I’m grateful to have a puppy I adore, and that we can both exercise together – I don’t know who enjoys his walkies more, McCartney or me. Actually… probably Mac; I don’t recall peeing in excitement over the prospect. And I’m incredibly grateful to be married to a wonderful man who works hard and makes a lot of sacrifices for the wellbeing of our family.

But, man, dinner time can be a challenge. I’ve taken to cooking dinner the night before the more hectic nights, and so I’m constantly on the look out for meals that keep really well, are nutritious and delicious, and are quick/easy to make in the first place, because often, these make ahead meals are the second dinner I’ve cooked that night, after a busy day of work/kid wrangling. Once again, I find myself very grateful that my kids aren’t fussy eaters… I’d go mad if the options were limited even further!

This dal recipe ticks almost all my boxes – it’s healthy, cheap, easy, and it doesn’t just keep well… it’s better the next day! It’s not exactly quick, but that’s only because it simmers away for an hour – it does it’s own thing on a low heat, and needs very little attention (the bare minimum of stove safety ought to cover it), so it’s definitely easy. It’s probably not the most authentic dal – the recipe from which I adapted it is, but I changed it to be quicker and more straight forward, because that’s what I need it to be. So please forgive the tinned beans and commercial chapatis… the aim of the game is to be nourished and warmed quickly and without delay – fiddling around making my own bread isn’t possible on dal day! But what it lacks in authenticity, it makes up for in rich taste. I was surprised at the nutritional breakdown: despite two different types of butter and some cream, it only clocks in at 335 calories per serve, which leaves just enough room for you to justify the chapati, because at least in my view, carbs are life.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 tbs ghee

2 tbs butter

1 brown onion, diced

1/2 cup passata

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tsp minced ginger

400g can lentils, rinsed and drained

400g can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ground chilli (I used cayenne)

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 pinch Maldon salt flakes

1.5 cups water

1/4 cup Philadelphia light cream for cooking

1tbs butter, extra

Method

  1. Melt ghee and 2tbs butter in a large heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  2. Add ginger and garlic, and stir for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  3. Mix in the passata and stir until it is fully combined.
  4. Stir in the lentils and kidney beans – it’s okay if some of them are mashed into the sauce.
  5. Add spices, stir well.
  6. Pour in 1/2 cup of water, and stir. Reduce heat to low, and simmer (uncovered) for 45 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes or so to prevent sticking. Add the remaining water in increments throughout the simmering time – I added a quarter cup every time I stirred.
  7. After the dal has simmered for 45 minutes, stir in sugar, cream and another tablespoon of butter. Stir to combine, and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Serve immediately with rice and chapati (neither are counted in the calorie calculation – I skip the rice altogether) or allow to cool, then refrigerate and let the flavours do their thing.

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