Julia Child in Delhi - Siddharth Kapila's "Modern Healthy-ish" Dal Makhani, Bengali Market & Leeds

Julia Child in Delhi – Siddharth Kapila’s “Modern Healthy-ish” Dal Makhani, Bengali Market & Leeds

Julia Child in Delhi - Siddharth Kapila's "Modern Healthy-ish" Dal Makhani, Bengali Market & Leeds

The great chef’s life in Delhi.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

This lawyer-cum-writer has challenged tradition. A resident of Delhi’s Bengali Market, Siddharth Kapila has appended a “modern healthy-ish take” to dal makhanni, the dish whose joy lies in its rich makhan, or butter. Tweaking the soul of a beloved dish is a risky undertaking. Good for him he did it in faraway England, where he is currently stranded. The 30-something Mr Kapila had gone to visit friends there in March, and couldn’t return as planned due to the second surge of coronavirus in Delhi. Speaking on a WhatsApp video call from Leeds town, he confesses “I like combining elements of different cuisines, without taking away what the original is good for.”

In his version, he replaces butter with Greek yoghurt, a substitute that has been employed in the recent past by a few blogger-chefs too (just Google!). Mr Kapila says one can get the Greek yoghurt “in any Khan Market grocery” but we can also use Mother Dairy dahi, he assures. Here’s his recipe.


For mixed seeds chilli oil:

½ teaspoon coriander seeds, coarsely crushed

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

1 chopped green chilli

½ teaspoon Kashmiri mirch powder

For dal tadka:

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tomato, chopped

3/4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed and the same amount of crushed ginger

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon Kashmiri mirch powder

1 cup black beluga lentils or urad dal

3 cups (or more) water

Adjust for salt

¼ cup plain Greek yogurt or thick dahi

a bunch of fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced


Boil a cup of (soaked for 6 hours) daal with salt. Adjust the water so that the dal is thick rather than watery. To this, add a tadka of cumin seeds, onion, tomato, ginger, garlic and coriander powder—made by cooking down the ingredients in two tablespoons of hot oil.

Separately, warm thick Greek yoghurt in a double boiler. Which is to say, pour the yoghurt in a glass bowl that is placed over a sauce pan in which water is gently simmering. The dahi should be warm, not hot.

For the mixed seeds chilli oil, heat a table spoon of vegetable oil on a slow flame. Add the mixture of seeds and a chopped green chilli. Allow the oil to sizzle and splutter and add a pinch of Kashmiri Mirch powder for colour as soon as you take it off the flame.

For serving: add the thick dal in a serving dish, pour the warm yoghurt on top of it and drizzle the chilli oil over the yoghurt. Finally, sprinkle finely sliced mint leaves over the dish.