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Dal makhani: a refresher

March 19, 2009

As you may or may not remember, my friend Henry and I took a vegetarian Indian cooking class last October, where we learned to make vegetable kofta curry, palak paneer, mango chutney, and one of our favorite Indian dishes ever, dal makhani. In December, we revisited those recipes and made kofta curry and dal makhani for ourselves and Tyler. Recently, I made dal makhani myself at home, and (as is my tendency) I made the recipe healthier and a bit more accessible. Since, as you know, I don’t mind having tons of leftovers, I made a biiig batch, with a full pound of lentils. Don’t be dismayed by its large size, though—it keeps extremely well, and it tastes even better the next day.

1 lb lentils
2T corn or canola oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1T minced garlic, or garlic paste
1T minced ginger, or ginger paste
1 large onion, diced
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
10-oz. can diced tomatoes w/green chiles (like Ro-Tel)
8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp coriander
Salt to taste
Cilantro, chopped

Rinse the lentils and pick out any bad ones. In an extra-large saucepan, submerge them in 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring regularly. Drain in a colander when done. While the lentils are working, cook yourself some rice. I like brown basmati with homemade Indian food, but feel free to use whatever you have.

In another large saucepan (or just wait until the lentils are done and use the same one), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, garlic, and ginger, and cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the diced tomatoes, with their juice, and cook and stir for 5 more minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, then the garam masala, chili powder, turmeric, and coriander.

Gently stir in the kidney beans, then the lentils.

Add water until it reaches a thick but saucy consistency. Season with salt to taste. If you want to make it a little richer, you can mix in 2-4T of Earth Balance (or ghee, if you’re so inclined) at the end. “Makhani” does mean “butter,” after all, but I find it’s just as good without it.

Spoon up some rice, top it with a nice big scoop of the dal, and crown it with a sprinkle of cilantro. It’s super thick and hearty, with a robust balance of spices. I’m not a fan of traditional comfort food, so I prefer to say farewell to winter with something still warm and soothing, but a little more exotic—this fits the bill perfectly.

Yield: 8 servings. Per serving, without rice: 300 calories, 5g fat (trace sat), 48g carbs, 21g fiber, 18g protein.

If you like this, you might also like…
Tofu makhani curry
A vegan taste of India
Indian curried lentils

5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2009 9:38 pm

    This really isn’t fair, your Daal looks so much better then mine. I’m curious though, no cilantro in the sauce itself? I’d better start cooking up a storm again.

  2. April 10, 2009 7:56 am

    I didn’t cook it into the sauce, but when I was storing leftovers I just mixed it in. I think the flavor stays brighter if you leave it uncooked.

  3. John permalink
    March 13, 2010 2:08 pm

    This looks great. I’ll give a try. Thanks for posting it! My vegan wife and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  4. April 2, 2012 12:19 am

    Amber, I made this tonight and it was scrumptious! Had to make a few subs based on what I had on hand and to adjust to my taste buds. I had Tandoori Masala, but not Garam Masala, so that’s what I used. Also had to use petite diced tomatoes in garlic and olive oil, not with chiles…and I didn’t even have any hot jalepenos or anything in my fridge! That’s just craziness…there are always tons of peppers at my house. But made do with that, AND I added in extra smokey paprika, some dried cumin in place of seeds, and a few hefty dashes of already-blended curry. Also some cayenne for heat. I had some baby carrots that needed to be consumed, so I diced the finely and threw them in. Gave a nice pop in color and a slight sweetness to the dish overall. I threw in a fairly generous handful of cilantro in with the mix as well as extra on top for garnish. I really love cilantro. 🙂 And it’s so filling…I got full just taking bites here and there over the stove. But I made a batch of Indian rice and have it all ready for this week. Will probably freeze some and taking some with tomorrow for a bodywork exchange. We *try* to stick to healthy, New-Agey food…doesn’t always turn out that way. My meat-eating husband won’t enjoy it which means leftovers for me. Thanks for posting this so long ago!

    • April 2, 2012 11:52 am

      All your subs sound great! I always substitute the crap out of this recipe, too – when I made it last week, I added carrots, celery, and broccoli stems, and I prepared it in a slow cooker. Speaking of leftovers – this only gets better with each day it sits in the fridge. I think it’s best after 2-3 days!

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