Dal Makhani

I know I’ve talked a little about my cook Abdoulaye Taonsa from Burkina Faso (Upper Volta).  He initially worked for me in Burkina and after that, each time I came back to West Africa, he would quit whatever job he was doing in Burkina and travel to our assigned country.  Needless to say, Abdoulaye is family and is continuing to supervise our son’s life while he is working in Ouagadougou 🙂

Abdoulaye was the 2nd son of the third wife of an animist, turned Muslim.  His father was a very successful businessman, trading goods in the neighboring countries but   unfortunately, with his father’s four wives, numerous children and family infighting, there was no money to educate Abdoulaye and set him up in a business.  Such a pity because he is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met and today, illiterate, in spite of all, has made his life a success through hard work and determination.  He now owns his home, a taxi, several internet cafes and telephone kiosks.  When we first met, I asked him if he would have any objections to preparing pork and he replied that he was my paid cook and if I wanted a dog on the table, he would be happy to provide it though he wouldn’t recommend it.  Hired!

Once we were talking about husbands and wives and he told me the story of his first marriage.  When his father was young he made a friend who helped him to get started in business.  They promised each other that when they had children, the families would intermarry.  Abdoulaye was chosen to fulfill this promise and as an obedient and dutiful son, he married the daughter of his father’s friend.

The daughter was spoiled.  Her father, wisely, did not have multiple wives and she, coming from an affluent family, was used to the finer things in life; gold, clothes, restaurants, etc.  Abdoulaye couldn’t provide these things and from day one, they argued.  Abdoulaye, having had enough, decided that the girl needed “correcting”.   He honestly told me, “Madame, you know, women are like sheep, you have to administer an occasional beating to keep them in line.”     O_O

So Abdoulaye started in with his “correction”, thinking that he would give her a couple of slaps, a severe lecture and that would be it for a while until another correction was needed.  This is what he told me:   “You know Madame,  I yelled at her and slapped her a couple of times and thought that would be that, but she grabbed me and I swear to you, I’m a man and all, but I had the hardest time getting away from her!  She was not a good woman!  The next day, I sent her back to her father.”   Trying to maintain an appearance of  “Madame-like” dignity with tears streaming down my face and great, loud peals of laughter coming from my mouth was impossible.  At least I didn’t roll on the kitchen floor 😀

Why am I talking about this?  Because Abdoulaye cured my fear of pressure cookers.  As a child I was traumatized when my father and a friend decided to make wine by cooking the grapes in a pressure cooker.  They wandered off somewhere and the cooker exploded, painting the whole kitchen with grape juice that took 2 weeks to completely clean.  But that’s another story.  Abdoulaye loves pressure cooking and watching him, I started to love it too.

I have desperately wanted to make dal makhani but the beans and lentils are usually cooked with a pressure cooker.  My deluxe super duper pressure cooker, chosen by Abdoulaye, is in Sens.  I made the dal anyway, along with masala cauliflower and curried chicken hearts.  The lentils and beans cooked in 2 hours and 45 minutes.  Inspiration for the dal:  http://www.food.com/recipe/punjabi-dal-makhani-301613

Dal Makhani

3/4 cup dried whole black lentils, soaked overnight

1/3 cup dried kidney beans, soaked overnight

6 cups of the soaking liquid or water

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

1 inch of ginger, chopped

1 tsp ghee

4 tbsp ghee

2 tsp cumin seed

1 onion, chopped

1 inch ginger, chopped

8 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

2 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup cream

1 tsp garam masala

Put the pre-soaked beans, lentils, chopped ginger, chili powder, salt, water and teaspoon of ghee in a large pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Fry the cumin seeds in the 4 tablespoons of ghee until they begin to pop, then add onion and fry until golden.  Add ginger, garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, cook for about 5 minutes, then add the cooked beans, lentils and water, simmering for 15 minutes.  Add the cream and garam masala and continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with warm chapatis.

Butter Masala Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower, separated into florets

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp ghee

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 onion, sliced

1 green chilli, seeded and sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp tumeric

1/4 cup water


Boil the cauliflower for 3 minutes with the salt.  Remove and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.  Fry the cumin seeds in the ghee until they begin to pop, then add the onion and chilli and saute until the onion is golden.  Add the tomatoes, chilli powder, coriander, garam masala, tumeric and fry for about 5 minutes, add the water and simmer for another 5 minutes.  Stir in the cauliflower, cover and steam for 5 -10 minutes.


About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
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34 Responses to Dal Makhani

  1. Deliciousness…

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Great food and story 🙂

  3. asha says:

    Dal Makhani is one of my favorites..loved your story too

  4. A great story and delicious food. I’m glad you got over your fear of pressure cookers. I don’t like them and never use them, but that’s more because I like to lift the lid and see how things are going. A pressure cooker seems to take away the control – and I’m a control freak!

  5. Really delicious sound dal, but you’ll never find me near a pressure cooker… never…

  6. Oh my – what a character! And what a great recipe too 🙂

  7. Michelle says:

    Madame, that is too funny! Must admit that I, too, suffer from a fear of pressure cookers. A chef friend keeps telling me to get over it.

  8. Tessa says:

    What a lovely dish and great story! Pressure cookers are awesome. I need to use mine more often.

  9. Truthfully, my grandmother used her pressure cooker so often and once she toyed with the pressure valve and the lid blew off and deposited hot potatoes all over our kitchen ceiling. Never forgot it. 🙂 I have used mine twice and approach it like a loaded bomb in the kitchen. Silly but true. Sounds delicious, however, and your story was excellent.

  10. That’s quite the story today, I loved it!! I don’t have a pressure cooker for the same reason, so I’m glad this recipe doesn’t require one! xx

  11. cecilia says:

    That is a terribly funny and quite deliciously politically incorrect story!! Life puts us in the way of some people who are treasures, how wonderful that you have kept this delightful man who would be happy to put a dog on your table.. Rosemary i have noticed that you often take photos of food in restaurants..something i hope to do in NZ but never have before.. do you always ask the staff beforehand? How do you handle light?They always turn out so well, i would love any tips, maybe you could do a wee blog post on it for us.. c

    • Political correctness has always seemed a sham to me; what is said and done in public while continuing to say and do what you truly believe in private and with your friends. B.S. to me c 🙂

      When I take pictures in restaurants, it’s usually at lunch time. I ask to be seated near a window and I immediately put my camera on the table. I’ve never had a problem and most restaurants are flattered that you want to take pictures of their food and establishment.

  12. I’m afraid of pressure cookers too! I just keep thinking that it’s going to explode. But the new ones are supposed to be safe . . . right?

    Hysterical about Abdoulaye. You never meet more colorful characters than in West Africa! Did you ever go out and run into Fat DJ? Not Phat DJ. But actual fat.

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