Dal Bukhara

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Ingredients

1 cup (7oz/200 grams) Whole Black Gram (Indian Black lentils/Urad dal)
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
4 med-large Tomatoes chopped, preferably ripe
2 tbsp Tomato paste, see Tips
1 Jalapeno/Green Chilies, as per taste
Abt 2″ ginger, peeled and grated
2-3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp Cumin
1 Bay leaf
1/2 tsp Turmeric
Large pinch of Asafoetida
1 tsp Cumin-Coriander powder
1 tsp dried Fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
Abt 1 tbsp Jaggery, grated, or as per taste – see Tips
About 1/3 cup finely chopped onions (optional) and cilantro sprigs for garnish

Tips
1. Tomato Paste: If you do not have tomato paste, you can substitute it with some tomato puree – approx 2-3 tbsp for 1 tbsp of the paste.
2. Jaggery: Sugar generally tends to balance out that acidic/sour taste of the tomatoes. I try to opt for natural sweeteners instead of refined wherever it seems feasible to me. But you can use regular sugar instead. You would need to adjust the amount according to the taste of your tomatoes.
Method
1. Soak the lentil for 6-8 hours. I do it the previous night after washing it in cold water couple of times.
2. You can choose to either cook it on a stove top for 30-40 minutes (or until cooked) or go the Indian (easy and fastest) route of using your pressure cooker. Take only around 10 minutes without you having to check on water levels. Add the bay leaf and 3 cups water to the lentils.
3. Pressure cook to 3-4 whistles. Its perfectly OK if its mushy ‘cos that’s what you want for this.
4. Mash it with a potato masher. Though you don’t per se this much water to cook the lentils, I add it since this is a gravy based dish. Set aside.
5. While the lentils were cooking, you can alternatively heat up a pan. Add 1-2 tbsp butter (or 2-3 tsp oil, if richness is not necessary). Add cumin along with Asafoetida and when aromatic, add the onion and chilies. Saute for a minute and add the garlic and ginger.
6. Next goes the chopped tomatoes. Add the salt and saute for another minute.
7. Add 1 cup water, increase the heat and let it cook for another 5-6 minutes
8. or until you find it becoming more of a sauce.
9. Now add the tomato paste, turmeric, jaggery and cumin-coriander powder. Mix until combined.
10. Close with the lid, reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 6-8 minutes
11. until you find it thickens into a red gravy.
12. Add the cooked lentil to this
13. and stir to combine. Do a taste test and see if it needs more salt and/or jaggery.
14. Cover with the lid, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for at least 10 minutes. The more you simmer, better its taste.
15. Few minutes before serving, crush the kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves with your fingers and add it to the dal. Stir to combine.