Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Dal Bukhara Recipe ~ The Iconic Black Gram Lentil Curry Of Bukhara Restaurant At ITC Maurya New Delhi


Whenever I enter my kitchen to make an iconic dish, I am extremely nervous, jittery & anxious through the preparation, execution & finally when the dish is ready. I might have cooked that dish many a time, but that feeling of immense responsibility weighing down on my shoulders for I just cannot be careless about a dish whose fame has transcended beyond boundaries, spreading to every nook & corner of the globe. A dish which people consider a must do on their list of to do things when they visit the capital of India, New Delhi. The dish I am talking about is Dal Bukhara a Black Gram Lentil Curry Dish whose popularity cannot be fathomed.


Though It's a simple dish, yet there is a lot of complex cooking which takes place and there is absolutely no shortcut in making this dish as Chef J.P.Singh the then executive chef ( when I visited the restaurant a few years back) of Bukhara Restaurant at ITC Maurya, New Delhi, would tell you. The black gram with it's skin / sabut Urad Dal chilke ke saath is firstly cooked submerged in water overnight & then continued to simmer till service at the restaurant is over. This is required for the Dal Bukhara to get it's desired texture & viscosity. 


Unlike Dal Makhani in which Chickpea Lentils / Chana Dal & Kidney beans / Rajma are added to Black Gram Lentil / Sabut Urad Dal in order to get the desired consistency & texture, Dal Bukhara only uses Black Gram Lentil / Sabut Urad Dal. Dal Makhani is not required to be cooked overnight as the mix of lentils gives it a viscous texture. The appearance, taste & consistency of Dal Bukhara can only be achieved through slow cooking. It there should not be taken off the flame till it is served.

Dal Bukhara is the signature dish of the Bukhara restaurant which opened it's doors to the discerning diner in the year 1978. Dal Bukhara has been on the menu of the restaurant since it's inception & remains the most iconic and sought after dish at Bukhara. Bukhara Restaurant has over the years hosted many famous names, multiple head of states, dignitaries, movie stars & the list is endless. This Award winning restaurant stands tall in the culinary map of the world & has been consistently serving the same quality, texture, taste & flavour loaded Dal Bukhara for the last 40 years. A testimony to this fact are it's patrons, who have been coming in for years with both previous & future generations of family members.


I would like to share with you my dear readers the Recipe of Dal Bukhara, the same recipe which they use to make Dal Bukhara at Bukhara Restaurant, ITC Maurya, New Delhi, India. There are however a few pointers which you must keep in mind in order to come somewhere close to the original dish. First and foremost, there is no shortcut to making the Dal Bukhara . Yes you can make Dal Bukhara if you must using a pressure cooker to cut down on the time of cooking, but take my words for it, you will be furlong away from the original dish in all departments of taste, texture, flavour etc. But even made using a pressure cooker Dal Bukhara doesn't disappoint, so if you are running against time, go ahead and use the pressure cooker.

But I would make an earnest request & plea to my foodie readers, who value originality over anything else, do make this dish at least once using the slow cooking method. Second you will need a charcoal fuelled oven to cook the Dal Bukhara . Even I have not been able to use this charcoal oven to cook the Dal Bukhara , which I try to compensate using the Dhungar method. For those of you not familiar with Dhungar, I have explained it below.

Thirdly a great Dal depends on the water used in cooking it. I wasn't aware about this fact till a few years back, when I read somewhere that no two Dal / Lentil Curry can taste the same as the taste of dal depends a lot on the water used for cooking it. From then on I have only used Mineral Water, please don't mistake it for bottled water, to keep the taste of Dal Bukhara consistent just like they do at the restaurant.


Now I will get to the recipe and firstly share the same method that they adopt at Bukhara Restaurant, then I will come to the quicker pressure cooker method. However in both the methods, ingredients will remain the same. 

Dal Bukhara Recipe ~

Author ~ Piyali Sekhar Mutha
Serves ~ 4
Cuisine ~ Indian / North Indian / Punjabi
Type ~ Curry / Lentil Curry / Dal
Time ~ 15 minutes Preparation + 10 ~ 12 hours cooking

Ingredients ~

250 Gms Black Gram Lentil Whole & With Skin / Sabut Urad Dal Chilke Ke Saath (Please use the best quality available for the desired result)
4 Liters Mineral Water
4 Medium Sized Ripe Red Tomatoes, Pureed With Skin
1 Tbsp Ginger Paste
1 Tbsp Garlic Paste
1 1/2 Tbsp Red Chilli Powder
Salt to taste
4 ~ 6 Tbsp Unsalted White Butter
4 ~ 6 Tbsp Fresh Cream

For Dhungar ~ (Optional & not required if you cook on a Charcoal Fire)

1 Small piece Charcoal 
1 Tbsp White Butter

Let's Cook Dal Bukhara In Easy Steps ~

Step 1 ~

* Handpick out any impurity from the black gram lentil / sabut urad dal. Wash the Black Gram Lentil 4 ~ 5 times under running water. Drain the water. Keep aside.

* In a large pan take 4 ltrs Mineral Water. When the water is hot, that is you can see multiple bubbles form on the side or bottom, carefully add the Black Gram Lentil. Immediately turn the knob to the lowest heat on your cooking range. Cover with a lid. Leave it to simmer overnight, at least for 8  ~ 10 hours.
NOTE ~ Leave an outlet for the smoke to escape or else once the dal reaches boiling point it will start spilling out from the sides of the pan.

Step 2 ~ 

* Next morning or after 8 ~ 10 hours remove the lid. Scoop out the scum, drain out excess water, leaving sufficient water for the remaining ingredients to cook with the dal. In other words there should still be at least 4 inches of water above the cooked black gram lentil.

* Add 3 Tbsp Unsalted White Butter. Wait till it melts & becomes homogeneous with the Dal.

* Add Red Chilli Powder. Mix.

* Add Salt to taste. Stir.

* Add Tomato Puree & Ginger Garlic Paste. Mix well. Continue cooking till the raw smell of tomato, ginger, garlic disappears. This might take at least an hour.

* Next add 3 Tbsp Fresh Cream. Stir continuously till cream dissolves homogeneously with dal. 

* Continue to cook on sim till you are ready to eat. Don't take it off the heat till you are ready to serve. 

Step 3 ~

* Just when you are about to serve, add remaining Butter & Cream. 

For Dhungar ~ 

* Heat a piece small charcoal in fire. When it turns red, place it inside a very clean bowl. The bowl can be made of metal or can be a terracotta bowl. It should be small in size & very clean both inside & outside.

* Place the bowl with the burning charcoal inside on top of the dal. Keep the lid of the pan nearby. 

* Pour the white butter on the red hot charcoal. It will start smoking immediately. As soon as you see the smoke, cover the pan with the lid. Make sure there is no outlet for this smoke to escape. Seal any hole on the lid.

* Open the lid of the pan on the dinning table in front of the diners or just before you spoon in the Dal Bukhara into a bowl for serving. 
NOTE ~ Do not use Dhungar technique to give the Dal Bukhara a smoky flavour if you have cooked the Dal Bukhara on a charcoal fire. The Dal Bukhara will automatically have a smoky flavour in that case.

Serve the Iconic Dal Bukhara with Roti, Naan, Paratha or Kulcha & a nice salad. I served it with Tava Aloo Kulcha, click on it for recipe & Fattoush Arabic Salad




Dal Bukhara Recipe Courtesy ~ Bukhara ITC Maurya, New Delhi

Pictorial Depiction Of Each Step Of Cooking Dal Bukhara ~


Handpick out any impurity from the black gram lentil / sabut urad dal. Wash the Black Gram Lentil 4 ~ 5 times under running water. Drain the water. Keep aside.


In a large pan take 4 ltrs Mineral Water. When the water is hot, that is you can see multiple bubbles form on the side or bottom, carefully add the Black Gram Lentil. Immediately turn the knob to the lowest heat on your cooking range. Cover with a lid. Leave it to simmer overnight, at least for 8  ~ 10 hours.


* The water turns brown after simmering for 1 hour.


* After 2 hours of cooking, the black gram lentil becomes soft.


Next morning or after 8 ~ 10 hours remove the lid. Scoop out the scum, drain out excess water, leaving sufficient water for the remaining ingredients to cook with the dal. In other words there should still be at least 4 inches of water above the cooked black gram lentil.


Add 3 Tbsp Unsalted White Butter. Wait till it melts & becomes homogeneous with the Dal.


Add Red Chilli Powder. Mix.


Add Salt to taste. Stir.


Add Tomato Puree & Ginger Garlic Paste. Mix well. 



Continue cooking till the raw smell of tomato, ginger, garlic disappears. This might take at least an hour.



* This should be the texture & viscosity of Dal Bukhara before adding the fresh cream.


Next add 3 Tbsp Fresh Cream. Stir continuously till cream dissolves homogeneously with dal. 


* Continue to cook on sim till you are ready to eat. Don't take it off the heat till you are ready to serve. 

Dhungar Or Inducing Smokiness Into The Dal Bukhara ~


Heat a piece small charcoal in fire. When it turns red, place it inside a very clean bowl. The bowl can be made of metal or can be a terracotta bowl. It should be small in size & very clean both inside & outside.

Place the bowl with the burning charcoal inside on top of the dal. Keep the lid of the pan nearby. 

Pour the white butter on the red hot charcoal. It will start smoking immediately. 



As soon as you see the smoke, cover the pan with the lid. Make sure there is no outlet for this smoke to escape. Seal any hole on the lid.



* Open the lid of the pan on the dinning table in front of the diners or just before you spoon in the Dal Bukhara into a bowl for serving. 

Dal Bukhara Using Pressure Cooker Method ~

Time ~ 15 minutes Preparation + 1 hour Cooking + overnight soaking time of lentils
(Everything Else Remains the same as above)

Ingredients ~

1 Ltr. Mineral Water
(Everything else remains the same as above)


Let's Make Dal Bukhara Using Pressure Cooker In Easy Steps ~

Step 1 ~

Handpick out any impurity from the black gram lentil / sabut urad dal. Wash the Black Gram Lentil 4 ~ 5 times under running water. Drain the water. Now cover the Black Gram lentil with sufficient water so that it is completely submerged. Cover and leave overnight. Do not refrigerate.

* In the morning drain out the water. Keep aside.

* In a pressure cooker take 1 Ltr of mineral water. Add the Soaked Black Gram Lentil, which would have become softer and bigger in size from soaking overnight.

* Put the lid and pressure cook on high heat for 10 whistles. Simmer and cook on low heat for at least another 8 to 10 whistles. Switch off the flame.

Step 2 ~

* Once the pressure subsides, open the lid, switch on the flame / heat to high and Add 3 Tbsp Unsalted White Butter. Wait till it melts & becomes homogeneous with the Dal.
NOTE ~ You can also transfer the cooked Black Gram Lentil into a pan and then continue the cooking from here on. The choice is unto you.

Add Red Chilli Powder. Mix.

Add Salt to taste. Stir.

Add Tomato Puree & Ginger Garlic Paste. Mix well. Continue cooking till the raw smell of tomato, ginger, garlic disappears. This might take at 15 ~ 20 minutes. Keep stirring or else the dal might stick to the bottom of the cooker & get burnt. Control the heat to ensure the Dal doesn't stick to the bottom of the pressure cooker. 

Next add 3 Tbsp Fresh Cream. Stir continuously till cream dissolves homogeneously with dal. 

* Now simmer the heat and Continue to cook on sim for another 5 minutes or till you get the desired consistency/viscosity. Remove from the flame/ heat.

Step 3 ~

Just when you are about to serve, add remaining Butter & Cream. 

For Dhungar ~ 

Heat a piece small charcoal in fire. When it turns red, place it inside a very clean bowl. The bowl can be made of metal or can be a terracotta bowl. It should be small in size & very clean both inside & outside.

Place the bowl with the burning charcoal inside on top of the dal. Keep a lid nearby. Do not use the lid of the pressure cooker.

Pour the white butter on the red hot charcoal. It will start smoking immediately. As soon as you see the smoke, cover the pressure cooker with the lid. Make sure there is no outlet for this smoke to escape. Seal any hole on the lid.

* Open the lid of the pressure cooker on the dinning table in front of the diners or just before you spoon in the Dal Bukhara into a bowl for serving. 
NOTE ~ Do not use Dhungar technique to give the Dal Bukhara a smoky flavour if you have cooked the Dal Bukhara on a charcoal fire. The Dal Bukhara will automatically have a smoky flavour in that case.




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