With the cold weather hitting me like a ton of bricks, I have been spending far too much of time dreaming about very heavy, rich dishes that will protect me from the reality of several upcoming months of cold winter.
My first actual attempt of a new, enveloping winter dish was Dal Makhani, a Punjabi black lentil preparation with butter and heavy cream. I decided to use the recipe found in Pushpesh Pant's India cookbook, a relatively new addition to our kitchen that Andy in particular has been using a lot. For any Indian food fans out there (and I imagine many of the readers here are!), I'd highly recommend this 800+ page compendium of regional Indian cooking.
Sadly though, what I realized after making the Dal Makhani is that while my mind has been fixated on heavy winter foods, my palate isn't really that into those types of meals. I made a few alterations to reduce the butter and cream to what I thought would be acceptable ratios - using one stick of butter instead of one and a quarter, and replacing the cream with a few dollops of fat free Greek yogurt - but the result was still way too creamy to be that enjoyable for us. I also added an additional teaspoon or two of chili powder to give the dish more flavor, and a fair amount of salt to help enhance the flavors of the dish, but it still just felt like a creamy mess.
A few other notes about this recipe: I ended up soaking the beans for 24 hours, and kind of freaked out that I had oversoaked them and that they were starting to ferment because they soaked up all of the water, partially split and turned slightly green in color. But apparently, that seems to be ok. It only took one hour to cook the beans before they were soft, and then I cooked the beans with the spices for another hour before cooking the beans a final hour with the tomatoes and butter.
If I ever make this recipe again, I will probably half the amount of beans used because this recipe of 2.25 cups of dried beans produced maybe 8 - 9 cups of cooked beans and sauce. I would also half the butter (if not more) and add more spices like cumin and onions to give the dish more complex flavors.