- Food: Dal Makhani
- Writer: Lizzie Green
- Content-Type: Food Blog
Do you know what dal makhani is? In India, it’s a delicious, spicy lentil-based stew served on important occasions (especially in the Punjab region in northern India).
I hope to visit there one day and try it for myself. If I’m lucky, maybe next year.
For the time being, I’ll savor this dal makhani at home. Dal makhani takes a long time to prepare, starting with soaking the lentils and then cooking them on the stove for hours (or more quickly in a pressure cooker).
It’s typically saved for special events such as birthdays and holidays.
Because I couldn’t find whole black lentils (urad dal) in the stores, I used normal black lentils, which cook significantly faster. Because I used canned kidney beans instead of dried ones, this recipe only takes 45 minutes to cook.
Dal makhani is traditionally made creamy with gobs of butter and cream, but to make this creamy, I used a tip I learned from my favorite lentil soup: I blended up around two cups of the cooked stew and returned it to the saucepan. That makes the starchy lentils lovely and creamy.
You can add cream (or coconut milk) at the end if you want, but it will take away from the flavor. If you order this meal in a restaurant, it will almost always come with a lovely swirl of cream on top.
The spices in this recipe are more subtle because the meal is rich. Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, and coriander are used to make garam masala, a warming spice blend.
I cheated and used a ground spice blend instead of dry-toasting entire spices, as is customary in Indian cooking.
I don’t feel like I’m losing out on anything because Frontier Co-blend ops smell and taste so good. Great spices make all the difference, and I’m pampered with a spice cabinet stocked with Frontier products.
Ground coriander (derived from cilantro seeds) and cumin brighten the meal, and a squeeze of lime at the end adds zing. If you’re looking for a creamy, curried, filling stew, this is it!
|15-minute prep time
Time to cook: 45 minutes
1-hour total time
Serving: 4 servings
This dal makhani is flavorful, creamy, and rich. It’s also easier and faster to prepare than other dishes! There are 4 servings in this recipe.
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and membranes removed, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoon Frontier Co-op garam masala
- ½ teaspoon Frontier Co-op ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon Frontier Co-op ground coriander
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes (preferably the fire-roasted variety), with their juices
- 1 cup uncooked black lentils (also called beluga lentils), picked over for debris
- 5 cups water
- 1 can (15 ounces) of kidney beans, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups of cooked kidney beans
- 1 bay leaf
- Optional (for additional creaminess): half-and-half, or regular or light coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, plus additional lime wedges for serving
- Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Suggested accompaniments: cooked brown basmati rice or toasted naan
- Warm the oil in a big pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno are softened about 4 to 6 minutes.
- Combine the garam masala, cumin, coriander, and salt in a mixing bowl. Season with a liberal amount of black pepper. Cook for 1 minute while stirring constantly.
- Cook, stirring constantly, for another minute after adding the tomatoes. Combine the lentils, kidney beans, water, and bay leaf in a large mixing bowl. Bring the mixture to a simmer by increasing the heat to medium-high. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring periodically, for about 35 minutes, or until the lentils are lovely and soft.
- Remove the bay leaf from the dish. 2 cups of the mixture (make sure the lentils have some moisture) should be blended. Close the cover tightly. Blend for about 1 minute, or until smooth, being cautious not to inhale the hot vapor rising from the blender cover.
- Return the combined mixture to the pot, stirring to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I normally use 12 tsp) and lime juice. Stir and add a splash of half-and-half or coconut milk, to taste, moderate the flavor and make the mixture even more creamy.
- Serve in dishes with a lime wedge and chopped cilantro on top. Serve rice or naan on the side if wanted. Refrigerated leftovers can last up to 5 days.
HOW TO MAKE IT DAIRY-FREE AND VEGAN: Instead of half-and-half, use coconut milk or none at all.
CHANGE IT UP: I also like this dish with ordinary curry powder instead of garam masala, which is untraditional.
NOTE ON LENTILS: This recipe is not for traditional urad dal (whole black gram lentils), which takes a long time to prepare. Standard lentils (brownish/greenish) can be used instead of black lentils.
Just keep an eye on them because they may be done frying 5 to 10 minutes earlier than expected.