Dal Makhani (Creamy Lentils)

This is possibly one of the most well known dals of India. It is a great dish with the smooth taste of butter. Any restaurant in Indian serving North Indian food will have this dish on their menu. I have had this numerous times and always enjoy it thoroughly. i, of course, make this very often at home – but with less spices than the traditional version. But, for the sake of authenticity, I present the full version with all the spices in this post. This is one dal that everyone should try at least once – it is guaranteed to meet with your approval. So, without further ado, let me get to the recipe.

Dal Makhani


3/4 cup whole black gram (sabut urad dal, muzhu ulutham parupu)
1/4 cup kidney beans (rajma, pavazha mochhai)
3 cups water to pressure cook
1 medium sized onion, chopped fine
1-2 green chilis, chopped fine
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 large tomatoes, pureed with skin (I did not puree mine)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (sabut jeera, jeeragam)
2 cloves (sabut laung, krambu)
2-3 green cardamom (elaichi, elaikkai)
1 black cardamom (badi elaichi, karuppu elaikkai)
1″ piece cinnamon (dalchini, lavangathu pattai)
1 bay leaf (tej patta, brinji elai)
1/2 tsp red chili powder
A couple of pinches of ground nutmeg powder (jaiphal, jadhikkai)
2 tbsp thick cashew cream
Unrefined salt to taste
To Garnish
1-2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1/2 tbsp thick cashew cream
Soak the black lentils and kidney beans overnight
Drain, wash and drain the lentils
Transfer them to a pressure cooker
Add water and mix well
Pressure cook them for 18-20 whistles till they are soft
If they are not soft, add 1/2 a cup of water more and cook for another4-5 whistles more
Let the steam release naturally and open the lid
The lentils should be mushy, otherwise mash them
Set aside
Put the chopped tomatoes into a blender and grind to a smooth puree
Set aside
Heat a pan and add cumin seeds, cloves, green cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf
Roast till the spices become aromatic
Add the chopped onion
Sauté on low heat till the onion becomes slightly golden brown
Add the ginger-garlic paste and stir till the raw smell of the ginger and garlic evaporates – about 30 seconds
Add the green chilis and sauté for about a minute
Add the tomato puree and mix well
Add the red chili and nutmeg powders
Saute this mixture for about 1-2 minutes, sprinkling a little water if necessary
Add the cooked lentils and the stock
Add more water, if necessary, to adjust the consistency
Mix well and cook on low flame, uncovered
Stir often so that the mixture does not burn at the bottom of the pan
Once this mixture has begun to thicken, add salt
Mix well and continue to simmer, stirring frequently
If the mixture is too thick, add a little water
Keep cooking on low flame for about 30 minutes (the longer it is simmered, the better it tastes)
Stir frequently
When the mixture reaches the desired consistency, add the cashew cream
Mix well and turn off the flame
Cover and set aside
Garnish cashew cream and coriander leaves just before serving
Serve warm with Indian flat breads, or even steamed red/brown/millet rice

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