Dal Makhani (Buttered Black Lentils)

Dal Makhani recipe

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Recipe courtesy of Anupy Singla via WTTW Chicago

Yield: 8 cups/1.9 L

Course: ,


  • 1 3/4 cups/360 g sabut urad (whole, dried black dal with skin), picked over and washed
  • 1/2 cup/90 g rajmah (dried red kidney beans), picked over and washed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 cassia or bay leaves
  • 1 (3-inch/8-cm) stick cinnamon
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 12 cups/2.8 L water, plus more if needed
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (1-inch/3-cm) piece ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons/60 mL ghee or vegetable oil*
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1-3 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and chopped
  • 1 (6 ounce/170 g) can tomato paste, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup/60 mL water, plus more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), lightly hand crushed to release flavor
  • 1/4 cup/60 mL half & half or heavy cream*
  • 2 heaping tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan, for serving


  1. In a large, deep mixing bowl, soak the sabut urad and rajmah in at least 8 cups/1.9 L of water overnight. If you’re pressed for time, place them in boiling water and allow them to soak them for at least 4 hours. If you do, you should increase the cooking time by 30 to 45 minutes. Drain and discard the water when finished soaking. This will seem like a lot of water, but the beans absorb a lot.
  2. Combine the 2 beans, the turmeric, the cassia leaves, the cinnamon, the cloves, and the 12 cups/2.8 L water in a deep, heavy-bottomed, 6-quart/6-L stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to cool slightly while you prep the remaining ingredients. If a light film forms at the start of cooking, simply skim it off, discard, and continue to cook.
  4. In the bowl of a food processor, grind together the onion, ginger, and garlic into a watery paste. Set aside.
  5. In a separate 8-inch/20-cm sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the ghee. Add the cumin seeds and cook for 40 seconds, until the cumin seeds sizzle and turn reddish-brown.
  6. Carefully add the paste from Step 4 to the sauté pan. It will splatter as the moisture from the onion hits the hot oil, so keep a lid handy. Stir well and cook for 4 minutes, until the mixture is slightly browned. Add the cumin powder, coriander, red chile powder, and fresh chiles; stir well; and cook for 40 seconds.
  7. Carefully add the tomato paste, the 1/4 cup/60 mL water, and the salt to the sauté pan. This mixture can also splatter, so keep the lid handy. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Use a little more water if needed to make sure the mixture doesn’t dry out. Remove from the heat.
  8. Transfer the contents of the sauté pan to the stockpot containing the cooked beans and stir well until combined. Add the cardamom and kasoori methi, stir, and return the stockpot to medium heat. Allow the mixture to reach a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes.
  9. Add the cream to the stockpot and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove and discard the whole spices.
  10. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the cilantro and serve with the brown or white basmati rice, Roti, or Naan.


Veganize it by substituting vegan margarine for the ghee and Cashew Cream or coconut or soy creamer for the dairy cream

Tools: You’ll need a large, deep mixing bowl; a deep, heavy-bottomed, 6-quart/6-L stockpot or Dutch oven; a food processor; and an 8-inch/20-cm sauté pan with a lid.

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