Creamy royal fare

Perhaps a book can be dedicated solely to it. The gourmets can have conferences over it. The chefs can kill for its much guarded ancient recipe. And if a debate is held about the country that has the credit for its origin, prehaps a war could be fought between the claimants. Such is this delectable dish’s fame. I talk about Dal Makhani, the Dal which is also known as Dal Maharani (perhaps named so due to its royal descent), Dal Bukhara, Kaali Dal, Dal Peshwari and so on. It is undoubtedly the most celebrated dish of the Punjabi and Moghul cuisine. No, I do not mean to start a war here. Just penning what I deem true to the best of my knowledge.

The Preparation: Elaborate. That is what the preparation of this Dal can be precisely described as. The Dal has to be cooked on slow heat for long hours. The more it is cooked, the more the flavour intensifies. Traditionally it is cooked over a charcoal-fired clay oven overnight. That is just about the boiling part. The ingredeints which give it the royal creamy taste are the clarified butter (ghee), the white butter and the cream used therein. OODLES of these three ingredients are added. Health freaks can stay away from the pleasure of even ‘tasting’ this sinful preparation.

I have been a die-hard fan of this Dal myself. So much so that I refuse to allow mommy to cook it at home. Reason? She can’t put enough clarified butter leave alone the other fats. My experiment with the Dal Makhani: About 5 days ago, I decided to make my own Dal Makhani. It was my first REAL attempt at it and second general attempt. The result: I ‘could’ eat it meaning it was ok. R said it tasted as if a Bigdi Buddhi (signifying someone who has a heart that would not have an attack when adding fats to food 🙂 yay!) had made it. P and M loved it. I did not really relish it much. 🙁 But I will not give up till I make ‘THE’ DAL.

Places where you can get to savour really delectable Dal Makahni: Bukhara at Maurya Sheraton (Delhi), Punjabi by Nature (all branches in Delhi), Invitation (Ashok Vihar), Baujee Ka Dhaba (Gurgaon, Metropolitan Mall), Moti Mahal (they are the ones who are famed to be responsible for introducing the Dal to Delhi’s cuisine and making it an integral part thereof) and Bombay Brasserie (Dhole Patil Road, Pune).

Not Just Paranthas

One can see many ‘Dhaba-theme’ restaurants coming up all over Delhi these days; NJP is another such place. ‘Not Just Paranthas’, is a cute little eatery tucked away in a bylane of West Delhi’s Rajouri Garden. The food is good; the ambience, cute; the menu card, innovatively designed to take the form of a newspaper.


We ordered Chur Chur paranthas which are their speciality, having an extra dose of butter and crushed with hands giving it a unique touch; aloo pyaz parantha; gobi paranatha; mooli parantha; Dal makhmali (balck lentils); kabul chana masala and Dal sukhi chatpati (Yellow lentils for dad). I just had a small bite from each of the paranthas, all were ‘ok’ barring mooli which was ‘bad’. Personally, I prefer mom-made paranthas anyday, so I had ordered a plain Naan to go with Dal Makhmali. Dal Makhmali which is the dearest to my heart was excellent; Kabuli chanas were nice but the fact that they had bits of paneer in it did not go well down my mind and tastebuds. Dal Sukhi Chatpati was liked by the elders; I did not even touch it so can’t say much. The chuski bar (serving Indian style flavoured ice-lollies) is an attraction for the kids.


Having seen too many ‘Dhaba-theme’ restaurants, the charm of visiting them is fading away. Still I liked this one. It was nice to see sweet li’l soemthings decorated all over the place. At NJP, all the seats are made of rassi (jute rope) and wood. There are knick knacks like small models of cycle-rickshaws, lanterns hung here and there, old vessels placed all over the restaurant. The loos have ‘Shreemaan’ and ‘Shreemati’ written over the doors to differentiate the one for men from that for women. What I liked best was a signboard saying -Kripya bhojan ke liye hathon ka prayong karein’ i.e. please use hands to eat your food. And what was even better was the spoons that were laid neatly over all the tables :D…pooooohhh