Monday, September 5, 2011

Dal Makhani - Lentils stewed with butter and tomato

This is a big pot of lentil goodness - red kidney beans, black beans with
15 or more different spices. My son asks, Mom, why are there ants in the pot?

I posted more than a week ago on our Tandoori lesson in which we stewed a big pot of lentils. With Indian cuisine, everything is about big pots. I love the one big happy family gathering around food concept. No fine arts about it. Forget any sophisticated plating. Everyone can dig into the big pot altogether.

I'm still thinking about this dish although I haven't had a chance to try it - too many recipes, too little time! I'm going to write the recipe here even though it's so very long. It's a very worthy recipe to me. Worthy of an attempt, worthy of taking the trouble to understand all the ingredients, and worthy of a massive mise en place. In fact, worthy of a trip to Little India! The taste is rewarding, satisfying, inspiring, and as a bonus, it's also highly nutritious. Note: need an overnight soaking of lentils and kidney beans.

Here goes.

Serves 4

90g black gram dal/urad
30g kidney beans/rajmah
15g bengal gram/channa

75g butter/ghee
1 bay leaf
2 cinnamon sticks
4 green cardamon
2 black cardamon (v strong)
4 cloves
75g onions, sliced
20g ginger, julienned
10g garlic, sliced
1 green chilli, slit
2 kashmiri chilli powder (not strong, more for colour)
2tsp fenugreek leaves (v strong)
125ml tomato paste
1 tsp cumin powder
Salt to taste

To finish: 50ml cream and 50g butter

1. Soak lentils and kidney beans overnight. Boil them separate with enough water till well cooked (kidney beans will take 2 hours)
2. Melt butter in a saucepan, add whole garam masala, saute for a minute
3. Add 3G - ginger, green chilli, garlic, stir over medium heat until the raw flavour goes off
4. Add onions and saute till it caramelizes
5. Add in fenugreek leaves and red chilli powder
6. Saute and add tomato paste, simmer (small bubbles) for 10 min
7. Pour into cooked dal, finish with cream, butter and cumin powder
8. Garnish with coriander leaves and cream drops.

Practise this for upcoming Diwali, and write and tell me about it!

Afternote: I've since tried making this dish - see how mine looks. Also, one of my readers also tried it with some good success. She used fresh tomatoes instead of tomato paste - look at hers.


  1. I made this tonight and there were no leftovers. Wonderful dish. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Really? Wow, you beat me to it. I got most of my ingredients yesterday, so likely to try it sometime this week. Any pictures to share? Can post on my FB page?

  3. I'm cooking a 'reduced version' of this tomorrow ( my folks are cool to non-dahl items ) plus thosai. Hopefully I will remember to capture it on photo. My hungry teenager gets grouchy when hubby takes a long time taking pictures of her dinner :-D

  4. Hi there, was thinking of you when I made this dish today, wondering how yours looks. I'm kneading a roti dough now to use the leftover lentils for tomorrow.


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