The Indian state of Punjab is known for the dairy that is consumed in generous amounts by its farming population. (Perhaps you will not be surprised to learn that today it is immigrant Punjabi farmers who care for the cows that produce the milk for Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese around the city of Parma in Italy.) More than half of Punjabi farmers are vegetarian and seem to thrive on local yogurt, cheese (paneer), lassis, and butter.
This dal is made with a mixture of red kidney beans—an early import from the Americas—and an ancient Indian bean known as whole urad or ma. The dish is called Dal Makkhani, or Buttery Dal, because of all the white butter that is used to enrich it. You can use as much “enrichment” as you choose.
It is traditionally served with Indian flatbreads—naans, chapatis, tandoori rotis, and parathas. Whole-wheat pita bread works well too. An onion and tomato salad plus a vegetable dish served on the side would complete the meal.
Wash the beans and soak them overnight in water that covers them generously. Drain them the following day.
Put the beans in the Instant Pot. Add 1 teaspoon salt, the ginger, garlic, tomatoes, chili powder, and 4 cups water. Close and seal the lid, then cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 30 minutes, before letting the pressure drop by itself. Hit CANCEL to reset the cooking program. Open the lid carefully, venting the steam away from you. Stir the dal. Using a potato masher, crush the dal as much as you can. Taste, adding another 1/2 teaspoon salt as needed.
Select the SAUTÉ setting and set to Normal. Stir in the 1 tablespoon butter, cream, and garam masala. When the dal is heated through, you may put it in a serving dish and add another dollop of butter on top, or you may use the tarka (see below).
Tarka: Put the oil or ghee in a small frying pan over medium heat. When hot, arrange the onions in a single layer. Stir and fry them, turning now and then, until they turn reddish gold and crisp. Sprinkle the paprika mixture over the top and quickly pour all the contents of the pan over the beans, spreading it out over the surface. Cover with a towel or extra lid to trap the aromas.