Daal Maharani. Maharani denotes the queen. Can a name be more regal? Perhaps not. Previously, I had dragged the recipe of Sikarni Raan/Marinated Lamb Shank out of the kitchen of the hotel that we stayed in by the method of incessant persuasion. Not that the staff of the restaurant was any less courteous. But there were too many diners vying to catch their attention and I was feeling a bit shy to start on my recipe hunt again! The recipe for Daal Maharani did ultimately dole out from behind the swivelling doors of the kitchen – but how?
Have a look at it yourself…
Black Daal Whole (Soak Overnight) – How much of the black Daal?
Ginger Garlic Paste – Again, how much?
Tomato Purée – How much?
Salt – okay as per taste!
Cream – How much?
Garnish with Ginger shredded – Wow!
What about the cooking fat? Did they use Ghee/Clarified Butter or some other Oil? No need for onions? Lots of questions remained unanswered.
After coming back home we tried a combination of the recipe for Daal Maharani obtained from the hotel and the recipe of the Indian Celebrity Chéf, Sanjeev Kapoor’s version of a Daal with the same name but has one less ‘A’ in the spelling of Daal! I’m following the later spelling as well.
Following are the characteristics of all recipes doling out of our little hands, big hearth -
♥ Easy to cook
♥ Regular canned products off the shelf may be used (However, we advocate using fresh products)
♥ Goes well both as a regular or party dish
♥ Children can easily help in making the dish (My two little sous-chéfs are aged 8 and 3 years!)
♥ And lastly, guaranteed to be tasty!
Category – Veg Side-Dish ; Cuisine type – Nepali, Indian
For the printable recipe→
Preparation time: 1 hr 30 minutes (boiling the Dal – 1 hr; cooking – 30 minutes maximum)
Urad Dal/Black Lentils (Whole) – 1/2 cup
Garlic, chopped – 10 cloves
Ginger, chopped – 1 1/2 inch in size
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
Garam Masala Powder – 2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp (optional)
Tomato Purée – 1/2 cup
Onions, chopped – 2 medium
Fresh Cream – 1/2 cup
Salt – as per taste
Ghee/Clarified Butter – 1 tbsp
White oil – 1tbsp
Ginger, shredded – 1 1/2 inch in size
Method of Preparation
- Soaked the Black Lentils overnight in 5 cups of water
- Pressure cook the soaked Lentils in five cups of water with salt, red chilli powder and ginger. If you wish to boil the Dal or use a Microwave then make sure you adjust the water occasionally so that the Lentils don’t become dry
- Heat the Ghee and Oil (Chéf Sanjeev Kapoor uses Butter but I felt Ghee and then Butter might be a bit too much for the heart which is beating towards 40!)
- Add cumin seeds. When they begin to splutter add the onions and sauté till they turn golden brown
- Add garlic and tomato purée
- When the oil separates out, add the boiled lentils
- Add one cup of water, the garam masala powder and simmer on very low heat for fifteen minutes
- Add fresh cream and let it simmer for five more minutes
- Garnish it with shredded ginger
Serve hot with Naan/Oven-baked Indian flat Bread or Parantha/fried Indian flat Bread
Here’s a small confession – having the Bengali genes makes us eat everything with Rice! A small introduction to traditional Bengali Cuisine without offending our Rice-loving senses that may convince you to forgive us for our immense love for this carb.
A bit about Dal and Nepali Cuisine (for those who have missed my previous article)
Let me also share a bit that I’ve learnt from my stay in Nepal and also from my recent purchase from the Kathmandu airport – The Nepal Cookbook.
Dal includes Lentils, Chickpeas and small beans. Chana Dal/small Chickpeas (split with skins removed), Moong Dal/Green Mung (split with or without skin), Toor Dal/ Yellow Lentils also called Pegion Peas (split with skins removed), Mussoor Dal/Orange Lentils (split with skins removed) and Urad Dal/Black lentils (split with skins removed).
Nepali Cuisine is influenced by the cuisines of both India and Tibet. The use of ingredients is very similar and some of the most commonly used ingredients are as follows – Hing/Asafetida, Mungrelo/Black Cumin Seeds, Cardamom – Alaichi/Black Cardamom, Sukumel/Green Cardamom, Chilli Powder, Red and Green chillies, Hariyo Dhaniya Paat/Cilantor or Coriander leaves, Curry powder, Methi/Fenugreek (most importnat in Nepali Cooking), Saunf/Fennel Seeds, Garam Masala (dry roast of whole spices like Coriander Seed, Cumin Seeds, Black Peppercorn, Black Cardamom Seeds, Ground Cinnamon, Whole Cloves, Ground Nutmeg), Turmeric, Garlic, Ginger, Onions, Scallions, Gundruk (Nepali vegetable dish prepared from green leafy vegetables that are fermented and then sun-dried and is used in soups, pickles and other dishes), Jimbu (aromatic grass from the Himalayan regions and is sold in strands – a pinch is enough to flavour a dish; not available in Asian supermarkets, hence bulb garlic roots are used as a substitute), Jwanu/Lovage Seeds (Ajwain in Hindi), Timbur (another important ingredient used in Pickles), Tamarind pulp.Dishes are cooked in Ghiu/Clarified Indian Butter (Ghee in Hindi) or Mustard oil, Corn oil and Soybean oil.
Achar/Pickles, a special condiment perfumed with ginger, garlic and hot chillies, is considered indispensable to a Nepali meal. They may be served as a vegetable dish in its own right or as a condiment and may use either raw or cooked cooked vegetables and may be preserved or prepared fresh.Dal/Lentils, Bhat/Rice, Tarkari/Curried vegetable and a small amount of Achar/Pickle – this is the main staple diet of most Nepalese though festivals call in for more elaborate Nepali meal with Masu/Meat, Macha/Fish and other Nepali Desserts amongst which the most popular is Sikarni made with hung yoghurt/curd mixed with dried fruits. Regional variations in cooking styles and dishes quite obviously exist with the geographical/topographical variations within Nepal as the mountains in the North roll down into Tarai/Plains in the south. So, Nepali Cuisine is not too different from the Bengali or the Indian fare that I have grown up eating.
Hotel Yak & Yeti, Durbar Marg, Kathmandu
5* Heritage Hotel; Centrally Located; In the mountains
Review Part2 (continued from Part1)…
As we woke up to the sounds of birds chirping, staring at unspoilt greenery and pouring hot tea into white porcelain cups, the Z-SISTERS fought over sugar cubes and spoilt the crisply ironed white napkins with their fresh watermelon juices. I was aware of the phrase ‘Ignorance is bliss’ but that probably applies to other people who wouldn’t stress themselves out thinking whether the stains will go after a wash but not me!
Next on the menu – Enjoying the colours of the flowers in the garden as well as the verdant greenery and Breakfast at the Sunrise Café. Though named Sunrise Café this is another signature Restaurant of the hotel serving Buffets and various A-la-Cartes. The fresh strawberries need special mention here. These were more like tiny little wild berries. We saw them being sold on the streets as well while we drove into other parts of Nepal. Big Z didn’t like them. But Li’l Z and I – we quite took a fancy to these tiny, a little sour, fresh strawberries.
The entire hotel was decorated in a very festive way on the occasion of Nawa Varsa/Nepali New Year. Special breakfast awaited us. Instead of the standard hotel buffet breakfast we enjoyed a homely breakfast with hot and freshly prepared traditional Puris (fried flour Nepali flat Breads) and Aloo Tarkari (Potato Dish), fresh Water melon juice and hot aromatic Nepalese tea.
The special decorations for the Nepali New Year, the intricate wood work in the hotel lobby, the magnificent bronze idol of different deities and a few meals are really worthy of special mentioning.
But before that a small excerpt from a previous article on the hotel…
I have started writing our Nepal journey in a very unusual way – the first post on Nepal being the last day of our trip. Probably the divine experience of seeing the Mt Everest and the Himalaya can’t be written anywhere else but on the first post of my Nepal travelogue! But that doesn’t mean that our other experiences were any less than ordinary. For example – the pleasure of experiencing traditional Newari/Nepali food or our stay in a hotel that is as beautiful and rich in history as the city itself. Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is situated in the Kathmandu valley which is one of the largest valleys in the Himalaya. Kathmandu is not a copybook beautiful city. It is over-crowded with people as well as the modern brick structures that house these people – all jostling with each other for space. The grey smog that surrounds the city as cars, vans, two-wheelers wheezes past is definitely not the romantic grey clouds blurring the surrounding Himalayas. The beauty of the city lies else where – the warmth of the round and smiling faces of the Nepalese, the innumerable make-shift souvenir and curio shops on the streets, the sudden emergence of ridiculously wired up electrical poles along along with lush green trees (Wired up is another favourite topic of mine – I already have numerous photographs of Kolkata all wired up but wired up Kathmadu really takes the cake). Our hotel – Hotel Yak & Yeti is beautiful and grand. In comparison, I can’t say the same about the rooms housed in the older section that we were given initially. However, the view of the room compensated everything. The rooms in the newly renovated section are much superior. The brick structure of the exterior, the intricate wooden paneling in the interiors almost replicate the wooden panels of the houses in the UNESCO Heritage site of the Durbar Square in Old Kathmandu. Some of these panels are actually 200 years old. Boasting of a fantastic art collection, signature restaurants, famous residents like Sir Edmund Hillary, the famous mountaineer or the neo-classical Lal Durbar or Red Palace which was built more than a century ago by the then Prime Minister Bir Shumshere Jung Bahadur Rana, the history of the hotel seems to run parallel to the history of Kathmandu itself… [Read more…]
Coming to Food, amidst the usual buffet, the following dishes are still tingling in my memory. Simple but enjoyable. More so because I have never seen the Z-SISTERS enjoy their vegetables so much. Here goes the trio -
The stir-fried vegetables with Sesame seeds and the Chinese vegetable Pakchoi. Pakchoi is definitely going to become my next crush!
The steamed vegetables – succulent Zucchinis, Green Peas, Cauliflowers and Carrots. Simple and nothing unusual but loved the extra-ordinary taste. Zucchinis are soon going to become my second crush, after Pakchoi!
And lastly the Veal in Red Wine Sauce…
Turning the Red Wine Sauce into another crush may prove to be a foolish idea – it is better to pack for holidays once in a while than to run short of money to pamper your crush. Enjoy a peep into more pictures but don’t forget that they are exclusively mine! Oh, also don’t forget to let me know about the Daal Maharani – I hope you enjoyed it. It’s quite simple actually.
Unblogging it all… Ishita
References/ Books I’m reading/lying on my bedside table:
A Golden Souvenir of The Himalaya – Author: Pushpesh Pant
Kathmandu Pokhra-Chitwan - Author: Thomas L.Kelly, Daniel Haber
The Nepal Cookbook - Author: Padden Choedak Oshoe