An Indian kitchen is always stashed with different varieties of dal. So, we do not actually mind having it almost every day. In fact, dal is one of the most accessible foods across the country, making it a staple for all. Besides, dal enriches our meals with all essential nutrients. But what fascinates us the most is the range of recipes associated with the humble dal. From the simplest dal soup to the creamy and rich dal makhani, we find different types of recipes to sate every palate. That's not all. You will also find unique dal recipes in every regional cuisine. One such instance is Amritsari dal - a popular dish in the Punjabi food culture.
What is Amritsari Dal?
As the name suggests, Amritsari dal is a Punjabi dish that finds its roots in the city of Amritsar. Traditionally, it is made with urad dal and chana dal that are soaked overnight and then cooked with ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and a blend of spices. The dal is then slow-cooked until it is soft and smooth, creating a rich and creamy texture. Amritsari dal is also known for its smokey flavour, which is achieved by adding a smouldering piece of charcoal (to the dal) just before serving. It is usually served with tandoori roti, naan, jeera rice and lassi (or chaas) to put together a wholesome meal.
History and Origin of Amritsari Dal:
Amritsar is a popular city in Punjab and the cuisine there reflects the region's rich cultural and religious heritage. According to the legends, the origin of Amritsari dal is traced back to the 16th century. The dal became quite popular among the people of the region and hence got its name after the city of Amritsar. Also called langarwali dal, this dal is widely prepared during Guru Nanak Jayanti.
Over time, the recipe of Amritsari dal evolved, with different people adding their unique twists and variations to the dish. However, the basic elements of Amritsari dal always remained the same. The dish is typically made with urad dal, which is slow-cooked with a variety of spices, including cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala.
How is Amritsari Dal different from Dal Makhani?
Due to the rich and creamy texture, many people confuse Amritsari dal with dal makhani. While they share some similarities, both dishes are distinct in terms of flavours, ingredients and cooking techniques.
The name 'makhani' (in dal makhani) refers to the use of butter and cream in the recipe. The abundant use of butter gives the dal a rich and luxurious texture. Besides dal makhani recipe also includes kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) that gives the dish a distinct and complex flavour profile.
The key difference between Amritsari dal and dal makhani lies in their ingredients and cooking techniques.
- Amritsari dal includes chana dal and urad dal, while dal makhani uses rajma with urad dal.
- If you look into the cooking method, you will find Amritsari dal is boiled until the lentils are soft and then blended to create a smooth texture, while dal makhani is boiled and then mashed to achieve its creamy texture.
- The smokiness of a smouldering piece of charcoal is added to Amritsari dal (just before serving) for a smokey flavour in the dish, while this is optional for dal makhani.
Also Read: How To Make Dhaba-Style Dal Makhani
Amritsari Dal recipe | How to make Amritsari Dal:
Now that you have learnt so much about Amritsari dal, we suggest, take out your chef's coat and rush to the kitchen. Here, we will take you through the recipe for authentic Amrtisari dal from Punjab. But before jumping into the recipe, here are a few tips you must keep in mind while cooking Amritsari dal.
Here're 6 tips to make authentic Amrtisari dal:
1. Soak the lentils:
Soaking urad and chana dal overnight (or for at least four to five hours) is important. It helps to reduce cooking time and makes them easier to digest.
2. Slow cooking technique:
Amritsari dal is traditionally slow-cooked for several hours, allowing the lentils to absorb the flavours of the spices and herbs, resulting in a rich and creamy texture.
3. Proper spice blend:
The dal is seasoned with a blend of spices including cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and more. The spices give the dal a complex and rich flavour.
4. Get creamy texture:
The lentils are typically cooked for hours on low heat until they achieve a smooth and creamy texture. Today, we often use pressure-cooker to save cooking time.
5. Add Tadka (or tempering):
Before serving, a tadka of garlic, ginger, and onions in ghee is added to the dal. This gives the dish an extra layer of flavour and aroma.
6. Serve hot:
Always serve the dish hot to enjoy the smokey flavour and the aroma of ghee. To enjoy it the best, pair it with hot jeera (or steamed) rice, naan or roti. You can also garnish it with fresh coriander leaves and serve it with sides of pickles, chutney or raita for added flavour.
How to make Amritsari dal:
Here, we bring you a quick recipe that can save the time you spend in the kitchen. Instead of following the traditional slow-cooking process, we are using a pressure cooker to cook the dal.
Add the dal, along with crushed ginger, garlic, dry spices, and bay leaf in a pressure cooker. Cook for three to four whistles. Prepare a tadka by heating ghee and add roughly chopped onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and chillies.
Add the pressure-cooked dal to the tadka and let this boil for at least 10 minutes. Once you get the creamy, mushy flavours, garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot. Click here for the recipe.
Try the dish today and let us know how you liked it.
About Somdatta SahaExplorer- this is what Somdatta likes to call herself. Be it in terms of food, people or places, all she craves for is to know the unknown. A simple aglio olio pasta or daal-chawal and a good movie can make her day.