An Open Invitation To All Who Enjoy Cooking An Indian Dish
Cooking Daal Makhani with Ritu.
Namaste folks, and welcome to cooking with Ritu Anand. You may have seen Daal Makhani, hereinafter referred to as Waah, in an ethnic restaurant’s à la carte menu or presented in their buffet. The delicious taste may have created a curiosity within you. And you may have wanted to know its secret recipe.
I dispel the secret to you, here and now. Waah uses a combination of three lentils: Yellow Chana Daal, Black Urad Daal, and Red Kidney Beans. A concoction of spices marries the lentils and gives Waah the taste and respect it deserves. My maternal grandmother, as I reminisce, regarded Waah. She said, “If you give respect, you get respect.”
Grandma soaked equal parts of the three beans in water for twelve hours. After that, she rinsed the legumes under running water and set them aside. At this time, her Colossal Pot, sitting on top of coals, waited for the lentils combo. Furthermore, Grandma ignited the fire under the pot. She watched Waah change from black – mustard yellow – a reddish-brown. As she monitored Waah’s growth, it seemed as if she were reveling her children’s metamorphosis, from knowing nothing to knowing everything.
In a skillet on another fire, she prepared a simmer sauce for Waah, known as Tadka. Tadka held the secret to deliciousness. First, a few cloves, big cardamoms, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, star anise, and cumin seeds landed in the skillet, leaving oil behind. Second, Grandma stirred them at a constant speed. She whiffed to ensure they had secreted their natural oils. Third, a stick of pure butter made a grand appearance. Then, chopped garlic and ginger followed to join the party of bubbles. Finally, when ginger-garlic shined golden yellow, she added fried onions, chopped tomatoes, and dry spices.
Salt, turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, fenugreek leaves, red chili powder, and paprika, made into her list of spices. After dashing them into Waah, she reduced fanning and lowered the heat.
Waah perched on fire all day long and late into the evening. Grandma never left Waah alone. She always looked at the fire with such intention. Perhaps, the golden flames were the only reminder of the fire within her.
Grandma remained focused on Waah’s maturation until it reached the dinner table. At the table, and while devouring the dish, family members would send blowing kisses to Grandma. Then, they would say, “Waah! Waah!” (It is an expression which connotes Delicious!).