There are over 60 types of dal across Indian; I haven’t tried them all but this I’m sure is one of the most luxurious to exist. From the Punjab region of India, Dal Makhani is made with black lentils, called urad dal and kidney beans, called rajma. Thanks to the generous inclusion of ghee and heavy cream, this dal is smooth, rich and feels full of love. 

Although this recipe may seem intimidating because of the amount of time needed to soak and cook the lentils, it really isn’t that labour intensive in the slightest. Most of the magic happens as the lentils slowly simmer away, meaning that you can start this in the morning, potter around for the day and have a delicious dinner ready for the evening. I used cannellini beans here instead of kidney beans as I had lots of tins in the back of the cupboard to use up. Although kidney beans are traditionally what go into dal makhani, really any bean works. If you are using dried beans then simply soak them overnight with the lentils. 

Spices such as black cardamom and deggi mirch chilli powder are a little harder to get hold of. You’ll definitely find both in your local Asian supermarket but you may have to order them online if you haven’t got one nearby. I would really recommend using them if you can as they add a smokiness which adds an extra warming depth of flavour to the whole dish. Good quality smoked paprika is a perfectly good substitute for deggi mirch chilli powder.

I served this dal makhani here with fresh coriander and sweet pickled onions for some freshness. I also added chunks of roasted pumpkin for some extra bite and sweetness, this isn’t necessary but roasted seasonal veggie toppings are an easy way to pimp up your dal. Try roasted and charred cauliflower, parsnips, carrots, tender stem broccoli or anything else that you happen to have in the fridge. 

Do not skimp on the ghee, butter or cream here, if you want something lighter then choose something like a Chana or Masoor Dal. The beauty of this dal is in it’s creaminess, it should have all of the starchy-soft quality of a good risotto and the richness of peanut butter. This is still an extremely nutritious dish that will both feed your tummy and soul. I fully recommend eating this with your hands, using chapati, thepla, naan or flatbread to scoop – it really does taste better. Making and eating this dish is an easy way to be kind to yourself.

Dal Makhani

5 from 2 votes
Course: Dinner, LunchCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Soaking time


Cooking time



Topping this Dal Makhani with seasonal roasted veggies is an easy way to add extra nutrition, texture, flavour and colour. Serve with my 2 ingredient flatbread.


  • Dal
  • 150 g urad dal (whole black lentils)

  • 100 g tin kidney beans, cannellini beans, lima (butter) beans

  • 1 tsp salt

  • Masala
  • 3 tbsp ghee

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

  • 1 black cardamom pod

  • 3 green cardamom pods

  • 1 inch-stick cinnamon

  • 2 banana shallots, finely diced

  • 2 tsp garlic & ginger paste

  • 1 tbsp tomato puree

  • pinch deggi mirch chilli powder or smoked paprika

  • 1/4 tsp garam masala

  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 50 g ghee or unsalted butter

  • 50 ml double cream

  • fresh coriander, to garnish

  • pickled red onions, to garnish

  • roasted veggies such as pumpkin or cauliflower as a topping

  • chapatis, naan, thepla or flatbread to serve


  • Rinse the urad dal then cover with cold water and soak overnight. Ensure that the lentils are completely submerged. 
  • The following day, drain the water from the lentils cover with more water then repeat. Rinse until the water runs clear. Tip the lentils into a large saucepan with the beans and 1 tsp salt. Add 2 litres of water, stir and cook on a low heat for 3 hours. Stir occasionally and skim off any particles from the surface of the water. 
  • The lentils should be cooked until they’re buttery soft and have almost no bite to them at all. The dal will thicken substantially as it cooks. The longer you cook the dal, the more favourable and rich in texture it will be. I’ve cooked this for up to 6 hours before. When you feel that the lentils are soft enough, begin to make your masala. 
  • In a separate pan, over a medium heat add the ghee and allow to melt fully before adding the cumin seeds, black cardamom, green cardamom and cinnamon stick. 
  • When the cumin seeds begin to bloom and smell fragrant, turn the heat down and add the finely diced shallot. Cook till it browns slightly. Continuously stir so it doesn’t catch and burn.
  • Add the garlic and ginger paste, stir and cook till the rawness in smell goes away.
  • Add the tomato puree, mix and cook for 1-2 minutes. 
  • Add the tempered masala mix to the cooked dal and mix well to combine. 
  • Add the deggi mirch chilli powder, garam masala, fenugreek leaves and sugar. Simmer for another half hour, stirring often so that the spices don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. You can choose to mash around 1/4 – 1/2 of the lentils here with a potato masher if you want a thicker, even creamier consistency.
  • Just before serving, stir in the butter and cream. Test for seasoning and add salt accordingly.
  • Serve with fresh coriander and pickled red onions for freshness. As an option, serve with roasted vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots or cauliflower. Great eaten with chapati, flatbread or basmati rice

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