Once upon a time, (here it goes… another long-winded food blogger life story 😉 Lol) I was a first time Mama to my now five-year-old girl who JUST. DIDN’T. SLEEP. It was a combination of her just not being a naturally great sleeping baby and me being inexperienced and too scared to try doing anything different, so I just succumbed to rocking and shushing and feeding her to sleep every hour of the night.
Yes, you read that right. Every hour of the night. She woke up every hour until she was around one years old, and then proceeded to wake up 2-4x a night until she was 3. And you thought you had a bad sleeper?
Anyway, Fatima, CUT TO THE CHASE… what does this have to do with Dal Gosht?
So during that first year of her life, I was pretty much a sleep deprived lunatic. I don’t think I cooked at all during that year, because it was just so bad. Can you blame me? I stopped blogging during that time too, I was just SO out of my senses.
ANYWAY, (finally getting to the meat here, pun intended), eventually once she turned one and I began to regain my sanity and senses (hurrah for getting 4hrs of sleep a night instead of 1!), I finally returned back to the kitchen.
And I realised…
I had forgotten how to cook.
For reals. I legitimately didn’t know anymore. I felt like the same rookie beginner who had gotten married at 20 having never cooked a curry in my entire life. There I was, burning onions, not cooking the lamb for enough time, serving hard, semi-raw dal, too much salt. All the classic rookie mistakes. Cue identity crisis.
This rut lasted AGES – honestly I think it lasted a whole year until my husband asked me why I was just cooking the same three things on shuffle without fail… And honestly, I think I still hadn’t recovered from the system shock of the extreme sleep deprivation from the first year of my daughter’s life because I was like ‘WHAT? HAVE I REALLY?! NO WAY!’
Guys, I honestly didn’t even realise what I was doing. At this point I am 100% aware I sound pretty much insane. I 95% probably was.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because, folks, this girl KNOWS her Dal Gosht. I cooked it almost twice a week for a whole year. On repeat. I’ve made this stuff on 2 hours of sleep with a one year old on my hip. I could make this curry whilst sleeping. I KNOW MY DAL GOSHT.
What is Dal Gosht?
Dal Gosht is a traditional Pakistani and North Indian curry dish usually made with Chana Dal and any kind of red meat (lamb, mutton, beef, all good!). It’s usually cooked in a masala base of onions and tomatoes like most typical curries and a variety of South Asian spices. It’s hearty, comforting and perfect for a winters day meal!
How do you make Dal Gosht?
The reason why I fell into that year-long rut of making those same 3 things was because they were EASY. I find making Dal Gosht SO easy and effortless – it requires such little brain power and attention to ensuring things don’t become overcooked. If you skimp on the Tadka, this is sooooooooo easy. I love it.
My Dal Gosht recipe starts off with throwing almost all the ingredients into a large pot or pan alongside some water. By almost all the ingredients, I mean the meat, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and all the spices. Let that flavour party simmer on a low heat with the lid on for between 1-1.5hrs.
On the side, you want to boil your Chana dal alongside a bit of salt and turmeric. Once it’s fully cooked, turn off the heat and set aside. Times for this will vary a lot based on whether you soaked your dal before using and for how long, how old your dal is and tbh I think dal just has it’s own mood and I’ve never been able to find consistent timings for it. So yeah, just boil it in plenty of water, topping up when needed, until it’s done. I have no words of wisdom here, you’re at the dal’s mercy.
Once your meat mixture is done, take the lid off and turn the heat to high. Once most of the water has dried out, add in the oil – we’re going to start the sautéing (bhoon) process. I have a WHOLE LOAD of information about why this is super important in my Keema Matar recipe post, but to summarise here it’s really important that you sauté the meat really well, to the extent that the masala mix looks dry and concentrated and is almost about to catch at the bottom of the pan if you leave it.
See this picture? You may be tempted to leave the bhoon here and call it a day. Looks pretty dry, right? NOPE. Dry that baby out even more.
This is how dry you want it to be by the end of it. You’ll be questioning where all the onions and tomatoes went! This is where all the flavour developing happens – getting lazy and not doing this step properly means compromising on flavour!
Once you’ve sautéed the life out of the meat, you can add in the boiled Chana dal including any water that it may be in. Mix through, add additional water if needed to thin it out, check for salt and allow this all to simmer for 5 minutes. Finish with some fresh coriander.
Finally, we add the Tadka. This step is optional but I find it adds A LOT of beautiful depth and flavour. In a pan, heat some oil or ghee and add in some sliced onions. Take your time to lovingly, slow brown these, stirring constantly to ensure they don’t burn. Once they’re looking brown-but-not-brown-enough, add in some cumin seeds and green/red chilli and give these a few minutes to cook. Once the onions and ready, pour the Tadka over the meat and lentil mixture.
Why do we have to boil the Chana Dal separately?
Good question. I used to ask myself this too, during my one-year long rut. Sometimes I’d cook the dal and meat together and it just wouldn’t work out – the dal wouldn’t cook, the meat would overcook and begin to shred, sometimes it would take hours. I tried SO many times to crack the code but I just couldn’t. I lament about this in my Dal Chicken recipe.
Someone actually left a comment on that recipe telling me that tomatoes and lentils don’t go together – lentils won’t soften when cooked with tomatoes according to Rose Elliot, author of the book ‘The Bean Book’. I’m not sure whether this is a universal rule, but I definitely found it true for me!
Some additional Dal Gosht tips
- You can adjust the Tadka ingredients to your liking. I know a lot of people don’t like fried onions, so feel free to omit them. You can also include garlic slices if you like a strong garlic taste. Other add-ons include curry leaves, ginger, chilli flakes, fenugreek seeds – anything you would like to add to your regular Dal Tadka!
- You can boil the chana dal in advance if you’d like. In fact, this whole meal is very fridge and freezer friendly. Great for meal-prep!
- If you won’t be serving this immediately, hold off on the Tadka. Add the Tadka just before serving otherwise the richness of it mellows out.
- Dal really seems to absorb A LOT of water so be prepared to add quite a bit of water when you combine the dal and gosht.
How do you serve Dal Gosht?
Dal Gosht is great served with any carby companion – rice, roti or naan all are wonderful. My personal preference is rice, as shown in the pictures 🙂
Other recipes you may enjoy
Enjoy, with love x
Oh and btw, for those Mamas who may be wondering what happened of my terrible sleeper… she now sleeps like an angel, mashaAllah. It took 3 years. For the Mamas out there losing their minds with sleep deprivation… stay strong. It’ll end one day… and you’ll truly wonder where the time went!
For the meat mixture
- 800g red meat (lamb, beef, goat)
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 8 cloves of garlic (they don't need to be minced)
- 2-3tsp salt (or to taste)
- 0.5tsp turmeric
- 1tsp cumin powder
- 2tsp coriander powder
- 3tbsp oil
- fresh coriander, chopped, for garnish
For the lentils
- 1 cup chana dal, ideally soaked for at least an hour before use
- 1tsp salt
- 0.5tsp turmeric
For the Tadka (optional)
- 1/2 cup of oil or ghee
- 1.5 medium onion, sliced finely
- 1 heaped tbsp cumin seeds
- 2-4 chillis
- Add all the ingredients for the meat except the oil and fresh coriander. Add 1/2 cup of water for lamb/beef and 1 cup for goat. Cover and cook on a low heat for 1hr for lamb/beef and up to 2hrs for goat. Check a few times during the cook time to ensure the water hasnt completely dried out.
- Meanwhile, boil the chana dal until the dal is completely tender. Set aside till needed
- Once the meat mixture is done, remove the lid and turn the heat to high. Begin to dry out the water
- Once the meat mixture has dried out most of the water, add the oil. Begin to sauté this, vigorously stirring continuously until the mixture becomes very dry and glossy looking.
- Add the chana dal and any remaining water from it into the meat. You may need to add more water to get it to a suitable consistency, so add water if needed. Check the salt levels.
- Allow the meat and lentil mixture to simmer for 5 minutes
- Garnish with coriander
- (Optional Tadka step) In a small pan, heat you oil or ghee. Add the onions and fry them on a medium high heat, stirring very often to ensure they brown evenly. Once they are a light brown shade, add the cumin seeds and chillis. Once the onions are a deep brown, remove from the heat and pour this mixture directly onto the coriander garnish of the meat and lentils
- Serve immediately