Dal Makhani is a comforting, creamy and buttery lentil dish. The lentils and beans are cooked until tender, then we build up with layers of aromatic flavour. It makes the perfect side dish to go with any curry, or serve it as a main with some pilau rice and/or chapati.

This is my take on an Indian restaurant-style Dal Makhani (black lentil dal).

Overhead photo of a bowl full of dal makhani with a sprinkling of fresh chopped coriander.  The bowl is placed on a green textured board.

Chris first introduced me to this dish after eating it on one of his many business trips to India (before he started working on Kitchen Sanctuary full-time).

I remember the conversation we had about it he he called home. He’d come back from a dinner with colleagues and we must have spent 30 minutes on the phone, just talking about the food.

He started trying to recreate it back home, and it’s gone through a fair few iterations before we finally got to the the dish that reminded him of that memorable meal.

Of course, I never got to taste the original, but I’ve got to admit, this is a delicious dal – it’s the dish I always go back to for seconds (and sometimes thirds!) when we’re having curry night at home.

📋 Ingredients

The perfect dal makhani recipe has the following ingredients:

  • Black Lentils (Urad Dal)
  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Butter & Cream
  • Onion
  • Spices (ginger, garam masala, cumin, red chilli powder, salt & pepper)
  • Tomatoes (I like to use tomato puree and passata for a smooth texture and punchy tomatoey taste)

The lentils

The main ingredient for the dal makhani is black lentils, otherwise known as Urad Dal. You can find them in most larger supermarkets and they also stock them on Amazon. Black Lentils on Amazon < Affiliate Link

NOTE: I have tested this recipe with the smaller black beluga lentils and it also works if you’re struggling to find propper makhani lentils.

Black Lentil Dal in a dark bowl on a green board with coriander and potatoes in the background.

🔪 How to make this Dal Makhani Recipe

There a few key stages to making the perfect Dal Makhani:

  1. Soaking the dries pulsed overnight to rehydrate the dried lentils and kidney beans.
  2. Then we’re going to slow cook the lentils and beans until they’re lovely and tender, then mash some of them so you have a slightly smoother texture.
  3. Fry onion in ghee and butter until soft.
  4. Build up the flavour with spices and tomatoes to give a delicious aromatic base.
  5. Then add the cooked lentils and kidney beans to the pan. The dal is simmered for an hour, allowing the flavours to combine and the dal to thicken.
  6. Add cream and a bit more butter for a lovely smooth rich finish, then serving!

👩‍🍳PRO TIP Use a potato masher to easily and quickly mash about half of the cooked kidney beans and black lentils.

🍽️ What to serve it with

This black lentil dal goes perfectly with ANY curry in my opinion.


🤔 FAQ’s

Can I make it ahead?

Yes, Make it as per the recipe upto step 9. the cool, cover and refrigerate for a couple of days until you’re ready to serve.

When you’re ready to serve heat through the Dal Makhani until piping hot throughout then stir in the butter and cream before serving.

Can I use regular black lentils?

I have tested this recipe with the smaller black beluga lentils and it also works if you’re struggling to find propper makhani lentils (urad dal).

Close up picture of a spoon full of Dal Makhani with a sprinkling of fresh coriander.

🍲 More fantastic Indian Side Dishes

We LOVE making Indian inspired dishes, the side dishes are often the star of the show in our opinion. Here are some of our favourites:

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5 from 1 vote

📝 Dal Makhani Recipe

Dal Makhani is a comforting, creamy and buttery lentil dish where the lentils and beans are cooked until smooth then we build up with layers of aromatic flavours. It makes the perfect side dish to go with any curry.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 14 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
Course: Sides
Cuisine: British-Indian, Indian

Ingredients

To Prepare the Pulses:

To Make the Dal:

  • 800 ml (3 + 1/3 cups) water
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 onion (finely diced)
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • ½ tsp chilli powder (use kashmiri red chilli powder if you can get hold of it)
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree (paste in USA)
  • 60 ml (4 tbsp) passata
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 150 ml (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) water
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) double (heavy) cream

To Serve:

  • 1 tbsp double (heavy) cream
  • chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

Instructions 

Prepare the pulses

  • To start off we need to soak the pulses. Rinse the lentils and kidney beans under cold water a few times then place them in a bowl.
    165 g (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) black lentils (dried), 70 g (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp) red kidney beans (dried)
  • Cover with cold water, enough to completely cover, and add an extra 2-3cms (about an inch)of water and leave to soak overnight (for at least 12 hours).
    water for soaking

Making the dal

  • Drain the kidney beans and lentils then place them in a saucepan and pour over the water.
    800 ml (3 + 1/3 cups) water
  • Bring them up to a gentle simmer and leave them to cook, uncovered, for about 90 minutes, until the lentils and kidney beans are really soft. NOTE: You'll want to give them a stir occasionally, to ensure they're not sticking. It it starts to look a little dry then add in a splash of water.
  • After 90 minutes, turn the heat down to very low and give them a gentle mash with a potato masher or the back of a fork to break up some of the lentils and kidney beans.
  • In a second saucepan add in the ghee and butter and heat over a medium heat.
    1 tbsp ghee, 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Once the butter has melted, add the finely diced onion and stir often, until the onion has softened (about 5-7 minutes).
    1 onion
  • Add in the ginger, chilli powder, garam masala, cumin, salt, and tomato puree (paste) and cook for 1 minute stirring continuously.
    1 tbsp ginger paste, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Add in the passata, the cooked lentils and beans, sugar, and water and stir everything together until fully combined.
    60 ml (4 tbsp) passata, 1 tsp sugar, 150 ml (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) water
  • Bring it to a gentle simmer, then turn down the heat, and let it cook gently for 50 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • **If you're making ahead then stop at this stage, cool, cover and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.**
  • Stir in the extra tablespoon of butter and the double cream and heat through for a further 10 minutes.
    1 tbsp unsalted butter, 60 ml (1/4 cup) double (heavy) cream
  • Add to a bowl and top with a drizzle of cream and a sprinkle of freshly chopped coriander.
    1 tbsp double (heavy) cream, chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

Notes

Nutritional information is approximate per serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 409kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 706mg | Potassium: 396mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 808IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

Welcome to Kitchen Sanctuary

Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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Comments

  1. I’ve made this several times now and it’s probably my favourite dinner to make. I use the Instant Pot so my lentils are cooked in 8 minutes vs 90 and it’s so easy to throw everything else together. Seriously so good!

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely loved the layers of flavour in this dal. We had it this weekend with chicken tikka kebabs. Definitely a keeper, thank you.