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Dal Makhani (Indian Lentils)


255 min

Dal Makhani (Indian Lentils)

Dal Makhani (Indian Lentils) Photo 1




255 min


6 persons




4.00 rating-star (80)


Author: Victoria Bailey
Ever go to an Indian restaurant and wonder how they make those lentils? I hated lentils before I discovered Indian food. Then I scoured the internet to figure out how they achieved them, and through mixing and matching recipes and methods on videos, I've arrived at this recipe, which I think is pretty close. This version is very rich, but you can leave out the cream to make it lighter. Kasuri methi (fenugreek leaves) is almost impossible to find in the U.S., even in NYC, but it gives this dish something very special.


  • lentils: 1 cup
  • dry kidney beans (Optional): 0.25 cup
  • water to cover: 0 piece
  • water: 5 cups
  • salt to taste: 0 piece
  • vegetable oil: 2 Tbsp
  • cumin seeds: 1 Tbsp
  • cardamom pods: 4 piece
  • cinnamon stick, broken: 1 piece
  • bay leaves: 4 piece
  • whole cloves: 6 piece
  • ginger paste: 1.5 Tbsp
  • garlic paste: 1.5 Tbsp
  • ground turmeric: 0.5 tsp
  • cayenne pepper, or more to taste: 1 pinch
  • canned tomato puree, or more to taste: 1 cup
  • chili powder: 1 Tbsp
  • ground coriander: 2 Tbsp
  • butter: 0.25 cup
  • dried fenugreek leaves (Optional): 2 Tbsp
  • cream (Optional): 0.5 cup

Metric Conversion

Stages of cooking

  1. Place lentils and kidney beans in a large bowl; cover with plenty of water. Soak for at least 2 hours or overnight. Drain.
    Dal Makhani (Indian Lentils) Photo 2
  2. Cook lentils, kidney beans, 5 cups water, and salt in a pot over medium heat until tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove from heat and set aside. Keep the lentils, kidney beans, and any excess cooking water in the pot.
    Dal Makhani (Indian Lentils) Photo 3
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook cumin seeds in the hot oil until they begin to pop, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and cloves; cook until bay leaves turn brown, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; add ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Stir to coat.
    Dal Makhani (Indian Lentils) Photo 4
  4. Stir tomato puree into spice mixture; cook over medium heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, coriander, and butter; cook and stir until butter is melted.
    Dal Makhani (Indian Lentils) Photo 5
  5. Stir lentils, kidney beans and any leftover cooking water into tomato mixture; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Stir fenugreek into lentil mixture. Cover saucepan and simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Add cream and cook until heated through, 2 to 4 minutes.
    Dal Makhani (Indian Lentils) Photo 6

History of the Dal Makhani (Indian Lentils):

Dal Makhani is a popular dish from the northern region of India. It is a creamy, rich and indulgent lentil dish that is typically made with urad dal (black lentils) and kidney beans. It originated in the state of Punjab, where it is a staple dish served in households and restaurants alike.

The dish gained popularity in the 1940s, when a restaurant in Delhi called Moti Mahal started serving it. It was an instant hit, and soon became one of the signature dishes of the restaurant. From there, the dish spread throughout India and beyond, and is now enjoyed all around the world.

Tips and Tricks for Dal Makhani (Indian Lentils) Recipe:

  • Soaking the lentils and kidney beans overnight is essential for this recipe. It helps to reduce the cooking time and makes the lentils more tender and flavorful.
  • If you want to make the dish lighter, you can leave out the cream, or use a low-fat version instead.
  • Kasuri methi (fenugreek leaves) is a key ingredient in this recipe, and adds a unique flavor and aroma to the dish. You can find it at Indian grocery stores, or online. If you can't find it, you can leave it out, or substitute with another herb like cilantro.
  • Don't skimp on the butter in this recipe - it adds a richness and depth of flavor that can't be replicated by any other ingredient.
  • Adjust the spices to your taste. If you like it spicy, add more cayenne pepper or chili powder. If you prefer it milder, reduce the amount of spices.

Tips for presenting the dish:

  • Serve the dal makhani hot, garnished with fresh cilantro leaves and a dollop of cream.
  • Serve it with naan bread, rice or roti. The dish pairs well with any of these, but naan bread is a particularly popular choice.
  • You can also serve it as a side dish, along with other Indian curries and vegetable dishes. It's a great addition to any Indian-inspired feast.

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