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.