Gravy side-dishes

Rajma aur Kali Dal

I already have a post on Dal Maharani (Dal Makhni), which is Maa ki dal, or kali dal (black gram lentil) by yet another name. The only difference, in my dictionary, is that the makhni version is richer thanks to all the makkhan and milk/cream that go into it. The kali dal version, on the other hand, is more simple and everyday. I also have a Rajma post

Cooking is so therapeutic. I couldn’t have realised it any better than on the day I prepared this dal. A very close family member was admitted to the hospital for surgery and an indulgent dish was the last thing on my mind. Yet, I knew I needed to occupy myself with something I loved. Reading was out of question. Even though the eye scanned across the page, I hardly registered anything I read.

I knew this would be the case and so I’d planned the previous day to prepare kali dal, a dish I love to prepare, for myself as well as for others. I undertook to prepare this dal in enough quantities for those of us at home plus some to pass on to my neighbours. I’d soaked in water whatever kali dal (black gram) and rajma (red kidney beans) I had the previous night itself.

I don’t know why, but kali dal is always prepared with a handful of rajma (red kidney beans). I normally add a handful or two of rajma to a cup of kali dal. The ratio is only approximate; it could be a little this way or that. But I feel too much rajma overpowers the taste of the earthy kali dal.

But that day I used equal quantities of both as I had just about 3/4ths cup of each. I prepared the dal essentially like I prepare rajma, but with creamy milk to make it rich like the typical kali dal too. It was wonderful, but somewhat spicy. You could adjust the spices to suit your tastes. The quantity was enough for 6 people.

 Back then I did not know I’ll get round to posting about it as pasrt of Blogging Marathon #20. You could click on the link to see many more themed recipes for some talented bloggers.

Rajma aur Kali Dal


 (Serves 6)

Rajma – 1 cup

Kali Dal – 3/4th cup

Tomatoes – 4

Onion – 1 (big)

Spring onions – 5-6

Garlic – 2-3 cloves

Ginger – ½ inch piece

Red chillies – 2

Jeera – 2 tsp

Garam masala – ½ tsp

Red chilli powder – ½ tsp

Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece (or cinnamon powder – ¼ tsp)

Bay leaf – 1

Cloves – 2-3

Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp

Oil – 2 tbsp

Milk – 1 cup (optional)



Cook rajma and kali dal with 2 pinches of salt in a pressure cooker for 4 whistles, reduce heat and cook for another 10-15 mins

Grind together tomatoes, ginger, garlic, chillies and 1 tsp jeera

Finely chop the onion and the spring onions. Keep part of the greens aside for garnishing

Heat oil and add the cinnamon piece, bay leaf and cloves

Add onion. Sauté till light brown (do not burn)

Add ground mixture and turmeric powder (and cinnamon powder, if using) and cook, sautéing occasionally, till the gravy leaves the sides of the wok

Add rajma, kali dal and salt and cook for about 10 mins. Add water if required. The lentils must be soft but not too mushy

Add milk and cook for 10 more mins till milk is well blended with the gravy and remove from heat

Heat 1 tsp oil. Splutter jeera and add garam masala and red chilli powder. Pour this over the kali dal

Garnish with spring onion greens

10 thoughts on “Rajma aur Kali Dal

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