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Maa ka Madra

Native to Jammu, Maa ka Madra is not the kind of dish one would make very frequently at home. If you have a get-together at your place, then this traditional lentil-based dish is one of the things that will be on the menu. Back in the day, this dish was slow-cooked in clay pots ("Kunni") for hours. The heat was derived from burning wood, which also added a certain smokiness to the dish.

I would recommend moderating serving sizes considering the amount of Ghee, curd, and fried nuts in the dish.

Before I walk you through the ingredients and steps, here are some relevant metrics for the recipe

  • Difficulty - Moderate.

  • Prep time - around 20 minutes.

  • Cooking time - around 20 to 25 minutes.

  • Servings - around 4.


  1. Sabut Maa (Urad) Dhal/Whole black gram - 1 cup

  2. Kaala Jeera/Black cumin - 1 tsp

  3. Tej patta/Bay leaf - 1

  4. Laung/Cloves - 2 to 3

  5. Moti Elaichi/Black cardamom - 1

  6. Salt - 1 tsp or adjust to taste.

  7. Curd - Thoroughly whisked, around 1 cup. Same amount of Curd as the Dhal.

  8. Cinnamon stick - 1/2 inch piece

  9. Saunth powder/Dry ginger powder - 1/2 tsp

  10. Turmeric - 1/4 tsp

  11. Red chili powder - 1/4 tsp

  12. Almonds - soaked for a few hours and peeled, 1 tbsp

  13. Cashews - 1 tbsp

  14. Raisins or Sultanas - 1 tbsp

  15. Water - 250 ml

I would recommend frying the nuts and raisins before adding them to the dish.

The Process

  1. Rinse the black gram well. Now add the black gram to a pressure cooker along with 250 ml water. Seal the pressure cooker and set it on high flame. After the first whistle, set the heat to low and wait for 20 minutes

  2. Turn off the heat. At this point, make sure the dhal is cooked and soft, but not mushy. If there's any residual water in the pressure cooker, discard it.

  3. Using a pestle and mortar, coarsely grind the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. They don't need to be made into a powder, just broken down into smaller chunks.

  4. On the side, heat a wok on medium flame and add Ghee.

  5. Add black cumin into the wok. Once the cumin starts to splitter, add in the bay leaves along with the ground spices from step 3 into the wok. Saute them nicely.

  6. Set the heat to low and add the salt, red chilli powder, dry ginger powder and turmeric to the wok. Mix well.

  7. Maintain the flame on low and add around half of the curd into the wok. Continue mixing as you're pouring the curd in otherwise there's a chance the curd could split.

  8. Now add the Dhal into the wok. Mix well so that the Ghee coats the Dhal nicely.

  9. Pour in the remaining curd into the wok, continuing to mix well.

  10. If the Dhal feels too thick for your liking, you can add some milk to make it runny.

  11. Lastly, add the fried nuts, raisins and sultanas and mix everything well.

  12. Cover the wok for around 10 mins, and then turn off the heat. Your Madra is ready.

Madra goes really well with either rice or Roti, whichever you prefer.

If you ever give it a go, I'd love to know your thoughts.

See you in the next one :)

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