Raisina hills is the prominent landmark in India where our President’s housing estate (Rashtrapathi Bhavan), Parliament house, Prime Minister’s office and other government offices are situated. Dal Raisina is the signature dish prepared in the Rashtrapathi Bhavan kitchen for VIPs & foreign dignitaries. Dal Raisina is a sumptuous lentil curry prepared by brewing assorted lentils & aromatic spices in lavish amounts of butter & heavy cream in slow fire for long hours. Recently it was cooked for unprecedented 48 long hours specially for the guests present during the swearing-in ceremony of our Prime Minster and his cabinet of ministers held at Rashtrapathi Bhavan.
Slow cooking is almost a forgotten cooking practice for two generations, I remember my grandmother preparing some specialty curries & milk based desserts like thirattu paal, paal payasam, etc. in slow fire for several hours. Nowadays our kitchens are equipped with not less than half a dozen of pressure cookers of varied sizes but we are reluctant to invest on the slow cooker. It is mainly because I don’t have a patience to wait for several hours to get my food cooked, nor the confidence to leave the food getting cooked unattended. After reading the article published in newspaper a couple of days ago about the unusually long hours of slow cooked dal Raisina, I started having an itch to cook the same for at least few hours to find out the difference between slow cooking & pressure cooking.
Dal Raisina is a lentil curry with slimy black gram, buttery rajma beans & creamy chickpeas but I cooked black gram & chickpeas in little ghee for 6 hours and added a taste of light whipping cream at the end to prevent getting curdled. I find the texture & aroma of slow cooked dal far superior than the pressure cooked dal. It tastes divine when served with chappathi and jeera rice. Now the recipe for Dal Raisina:
Cooking time: 6 hours
Yields: 400 ml
|Cumin seeds||1 tsp|
|Red chilli powder||3/4 tbsp|
|Coriander seeds powder||1 tsp|
|Turmeric powder||1/2 tsp|
|Garam masala powder||1/2 tsp|
|Ginger||1 and 1/2″|
|Garlic||1 small bulb|
|Split black gram||1/4 cup|
|Split chickpeas||1/4 cup|
|Dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)||1 tsp|
|Fresh cream||1 tbsp|
|Fresh coriander leaves (chopped)||as needed|
Mise en place:
- Wash the lentils and soak for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile we can prepare the ginger-garlic paste & tomato puree and keep them ready.
- Then slit the green chilli, chop the onions finely and leave aside.
Dal Raisina making:
- Heat a large heavy bottom cooking pot with ghee in low flame.
- Add bay leaf, cardamom & cumin seeds.
- When their aroma is released add slit green chilli & chopped onion.
- Increase the heat to medium and saute till onions turn translucent.
- Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander seeds powder & garam masala powder and saute for 10 seconds.
- Now add ginger garlic paste followed by tomato puree and saute until incorporated.
- Now pour water into the pot and increase the heat to high.
- When the water begins to boil, add soaked lentils into the pot.
- Reduce the flame to low.
- Cover the pot with a lid and simmer until lentils become soft & tender.
- When the lentils are cooked add salt & dried fenugreek leaves.
- Continue cooking in low flame until the dal mixture reaches the desired consistency
- Pour fresh cream and sprinkle chopped coriander leaves into the dal.
- Mix well and simmer for few minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Serve hot with any rice dish and/or flat breads.