This stew is made with Urad dal and is rich in healthy fats and protein, making it a great meat substitute. Other names include split black lentils (NOT black beluga lentils), split black matpe, or split black gram. Shahi style is a spicy, rich, and creamy stew that uses the unique Panjabi step of tempering (tadka), in which fresh ingredients are “flash fried in ghee” (vegans do it differently), and poured over the finished dish. This makes a wonderful meal when served with a side of hot rice, and a flatbread like roti, naan, chapati, etc. for dipping and scooping.
To begin: Pick through the urad dal and remove stones or debris. Soak the split urad dal for 4-6 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse well. You may double the recipe for larger gatherings or to freeze for later.
For the Dal:
1 cup split (chilka) urad dal
1/2 medium ripe tomato (use the other half for the tempering)
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, grated or chopped finely
3/4 cup plant milk, I used soy
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 bay leaf (tej patta
2 green cardamom (hari elaichi) or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Salt to taste (optional)
3 cups water
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, and more for a final garnish
1/2 cup plant yogurt, (optional). I used Trader Joes unsweetened organic Cashew Yogurt
Lime, cut into wedges (optional)
In 6 or 8 qt Instant Pot combine all of the ingredients above except the lime and yogurt, stirring well. Set to pressure cook on high for 15 minutes. While the urad dal is cooking make the tadka–see below. When finished let rest 10 minutes, then quick release. Open carefully. Stir well and taste although the that the tadka will add to the flavor dramatically. Add salt at this point if desired. Push ‘cancel’, then ‘sauté’ and let the dal cook a bit longer and get thicker if you would like. Otherwise leave on ‘warm’.
For Tempering (tadka)
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4-1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
1/2 ripe tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed or ground cumin
1 teaspoon Garam Masala (pumpkin pie spice will do in a pinch)
1 medium green chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds
Heat a medium skillet over medium/high heat. To the dry pan add the chopped onion and ‘dry saute’ adding a tablespoon or so of vegetable broth or water as it weeps its moisture, and begins to take on a golden color. You may do this a couple of times as it adds color. Don’t brown or burn. Stir in the chopped tomato and cook 1-2 minutes. Add all spices including chopped chili to the onion mixture and stir to bring out their aroma, adding a bit of broth or water to prevent burning. Before finishing, add the toasted sliced almonds and mix to combine. Add a bit more broth to moisten the mixture. Add the tadka to the urad dal mixture in the Instant Pot and stir well. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Note: Some people simple spoon bits of the tadka over the finished stew when it is in the bowl, stirring it in as they eat it.
At this point, some people add a dash of sweetness like date paste, maple syrup, or coconut sugar to soften the spices. Possibly add more broth to get the consistency that you like.
If you desire a bit of tang and creaminess, stir in the plant yogurt.
Serve with rice, flatbread (for dipping and scooping), and lime wedges.
If refrigerated or frozen, the stew will thicken so more broth will need needed when reheating.