Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dal Makhani – Black Lentils in Spicy Cream Sauce

Dal Makhani - Black lentils in spicy cream base
Dal Makhani is one of my favorite dish in North Indian Restaurants. I love its nutty taste in tangy cream, flavored with pungent garlic. I never bothered to try it at home. Didn't even know what type of lentils is used to make this dish. Later on only when I checked it with one of my Indian friend, I got to know the type of lentils used to make this awesome dish.

I’m glad I like lentils and legumes, as it’s a good source of low fat protein for vegetarians. Quinoa is the best protein source for vegetarians and vegans. However I’m still not that fond of quinoa, even though I’ve tried them on salads and soups I really didn’t like its taste. Second best protein source is tofu, which is a very versatile product. You can use them in fried rice, noodles, soups, salads and stir fries. Stir fried tofu in spicy chili sauce would be a wonderful dish. You can apply the same method I used to make stir- fried eggplant and cook tofu.

My preferred protein sources are lentils, legumes and dairy instead of tofu or quinoa. But lentils are not a complete source of protein, you always have to combine number of lentils or consume dairy to get complete protein. Black lentils, red lentils and chickpeas are my favorites. Black lentils are also used to make Dosa – Indian Crepes.
Dal Makhani - Black lentils in spicy cream base

Print Recipe here
Serves 3-4
100g Black lentils (black urad dhal), wash and soak in water overnight
Black lentils soaked overnight for Dal Makhani

Grind below ingredients to paste using food processor
6 garlic gloves
Small piece of ginger
1 large tomato
1 large onion
3-4 fresh red chili
Few curry leaves (optional)
Handful of coriander leaves
Fresh ingredients to make Dal Makhani
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
4 tbsp tomato puree
2tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1tsp fenugreek leaves
½ tsp turmeric powder
Pinch of Asafoedita powder
150ml thick cream (vegans can use coconut cream)
1 tsp Garam masala for fragrance
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste


Pressure cook black lentils. Add water and salt to the pressure cooker, and cook for few minutes and once it starts to whistle, continue to cook for further five minutes. Turn off heat and leave it aside for 15-20 minutes till all pressure is gone. Then remove the lid.

Alternatively boil black lentils in a sauce pan, covering the lid for 40-45 minutes till they are soft and mushy.

Seperately in a large wok, heat oil and stir fry ground paste till it turn into brown color and oil seperates from the mixture.
Stir frying ground paste made with fresh ingredients
Add tomato puree, chili powder, curry powder, turmeric powder, asafoedita and fenugreek leaves. Stir well till all spices are combined and forms into a thick paste.

Add cream, and 200ml water. Mix the gravy well, close the lid and cook for 5-10 minutes. When gravy starts to simmer open the lid leave it to thicken. Add cooked black lentils and stir well.
Simmering gravy for Dal Makhani
Season with salt, garam masala and lemon juice.

Note : Use of Asafoedita and fenugreek leaves are optional. Asafoedita helps to ease digestion of legumes and gives a pungent flavor. Same with fenugreek leaves, as it gives a pungent north Indian flavor to this dish.
Dal Makhani - Black lentils in spicy cream base


  1. It looks great!!! Do you think making it with actual cream or cocount cream would taste better?

  2. Wow it is SUCH a coincidence that you made this...I ate this at a fantastic Indian restaurant for the first time last weekend. It was absolutely incredible. I have bookmarked this recipe to try when I get the courage up to do so :-) Your pictures are gorgeous.

  3. I love lentils and all types of legumes but to be honest have never seen black lentils. I kept looking at your photo and they look much alike with mung beans. Are they the same thing or I'm completely wrong?
    Your dish sounds like a really delicious one. Perfect for the cold weather we're soon dealing with.

  4. This looks sooo very good! I have been wanting to make this recipe for a long time. Now you have really inspired me. : )

  5. Looks delicious!. I have never seen black lentils, I have eaten brown and red lentils, which I love. I am going to look for these.

  6. hi Suzi, Tnk u, you can look for it in Indian Grocery stores. It's also known as black urad dhal. this is how it looks,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1024&bih=649&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

  7. Ami's Vegetarian DelicaciesOctober 21, 2011 at 5:00 AM

    Thank u :)

  8. Ami's Vegetarian DelicaciesOctober 21, 2011 at 5:02 AM

    hi Roxana, yes it looks similar to mung beans in shape, but black in color. Also know as black urad dhal, look for it in Indian Grocery stores. these are google images of this dhal,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1024&bih=649&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

  9. Ami's Vegetarian DelicaciesOctober 21, 2011 at 5:03 AM

    Thank you Meghan, I luv to hear feedback about my pics. Thank u again

  10. Ami's Vegetarian DelicaciesOctober 21, 2011 at 5:04 AM

    I eat dairy, Most North Indian dishes are packed with dairy, so it's absolutely tasty if you make with dairy cream. I just gave an option for vegan readers to use coconut cream.

  11. love the color of the perfect dal makhani!.. mom's visiting and this is on my mom's cooking list.. lets see how she veganizes it.. though she is doing very well with all the new vegan substitutes! thank you for dropping by! love the green chili pesto too.. gotta makethat one and try for sure!
    Richa @ Hobby And More Food Blog

  12. Ami's Vegetarian DelicaciesOctober 22, 2011 at 4:07 AM

    hi Richa, Enjoy your mom's cooking. Mom's food is the best. I have many vegan recipes. Check out vegan label. It might be hard for traditional Indian cope with dairy free life style. Gd luk to you. & Take care

  13. your web site is dangerous to look at while hungry! I want to make this too! Kinda loving indian food lately

  14. Ami's Vegetarian DelicaciesOctober 23, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    Tnx, I'm glad to hear that I've tempted you well, pls do try them...

  15. delicious healthy curry looks wonderful

  16. Ami's Vegetarian DelicaciesOctober 24, 2011 at 4:10 AM

    Thank you :)

  17. I love this way of cooking dal makhani, I am definitely trying it!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  18. Ami's Vegetarian DelicaciesOctober 30, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    Thanks Priyanka, read your story about weight battle, I'm in the same road with you ;), being a foodie is double tuff to conquer weight...

  19. Hi
    I used Pure Vegan B12 spray.There is also a cheaper version that does not advertise vegan but says so on the label called Pure Advantage B12. The ingredients are identical.


  20. Wow, very nice!
    Love your recipe..

    And you know what they say: Someone who has a georgeous body don't know nothing about delicious food ;-)

  21. That dish is awesome! Really droolworthy.



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  23. This is really one of the healthiest and delicious recipe i found, I am trying this black lentil dal for sure.
    Yellow Moong Dal Recipes

  24. Hey Ami, thanks for this recipe. I have a bag of black lentils which have been sitting in my pantry. I can't seem to get the recipe right for the life of me. I however make green, red and yellow lentils with my eyes closed. I will certainly try this out and report back.


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