Black dal is a slightly spicy lentil dish, rich in flavor and protein. Make this Indian dal makhani recipe for an easy meatless meal.
Making spicy black lentils is the perfect way to break up your mundane weeknight dinners. Instead of the usual soup or stew that you might whip up during the colder months, try this delicious Indian dish instead.
Entree definition: Black Dal
If you’re looking for the best way to satisfy your savory cravings on a meatless Monday, this recipe is perfect for you.
The best part? It’s vegetarian (and vegan!), but it’s so flavorful, you’ll never even notice it doesn’t have meat!
Ingredients like serrano chiles, chili powder and turmeric are sure to liven up your flavor palate.
Note: This is just a partial list of ingredients. For the full list, with amounts, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Whole Black Lentils - Otherwise known as urad dal, black lentils are essential in many Indian recipes. The flavor is full-bodied and earthy, and they cook up nice and thick.
- Red Kidney Beans - These robust beans provide a soft texture to the dish.
- Serrano Chiles - This ingredient, while not too spicy, adds a flavorful sharp taste.
- Chili Powder - Chili powder is an aromatic, moderately spicy blend of spices that adds a richness to the overall dish. You can buy it ready-to-use, or use homemade chili powder.
- Turmeric - Most curries would be incomplete without turmeric, and the same can be said for this recipe! Between the color and musky flavor, this ingredient is irreplaceable.
- Garam Masala - If you can’t find this spice at the grocery store, have no fear! I have my own recipe for Garam Masala which is perfect. Easy as that!
- Cilantro - This is my favorite garnish for black dal. A drizzle of cream and red chile also pair fantastically!
Dal Makhani recipe video
If you would like to watch me make the dish, be sure to check out the RECIPE VIDEO in the recipe card below!
- Prepare the lentils and kidney beans. Move any debris you may find. Soak the lentils and beans overnight in water.
- Cut the onion and prepare other ingredients. After cutting the onion in half, chop up one half and leave the other intact. Then, add the whole garlic cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick in a piece of cheesecloth. This part of the process may seem odd, but trust me - the flavor you end up with is worth it!
- Cook the lentils and kidney beans. Add them to a pot with water, toss in the unchopped onion and cook. After letting it simmer a while, discard the onion and drain the lentils and kidney beans.
- Sauté the ingredients. Sautè the chopped onions first. Then, add the chiles, ginger paste, garlic, cumin, salt, turmeric, chili powder, cayenne, and garam masala. Continue to sauté until your kitchen becomes delightfully aromatic!
- Add the remaining ingredients. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tied spice bag, water, lentils and kidney beans. Cover, simmer, and don’t touch for about 45 minutes!
- Blend the soup. Remember to carefully remove the spice bag, then you can really get to work on your soup. Using an immersion blender, blend slightly until you reach the desired texture. If necessary, add water until the soup is to your taste.
- Serve fresh! Garnish how you’d like and enjoy!
How long should I blend the soup?
This step is entirely up to you. If you want a creamier, more velvety texture, then pureé the soup until smooth. If you’d like the texture to still have chunkier lentils, make sure not to pureé as long.
What should I serve with black lentils?
Traditionally, a dal makhani recipe is served with garlic naan. However, dipping a slice of any soft flatbread into the spicy soup is an unforgettable experience, and an easy way to elevate the dish even more. Of course, you could also pair it with brown, white, or even forbidden (black) rice.
NOTE: The below photo is also black dal, but the meal is blended completely with an immersion blender. As a result, it becomes a thick, creamy soup.
Creamy Black Dal Makhani (Restaurant Style)
- 1 cup dried whole black lentils (urud dal)
- ½ cup dried red kidney beans (rajma)
- 2 whole cloves
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 3 inch cinnamon stick break in half
- 1 medium red onion
- 1 tbsp ghee or butter
- 2 Serrano chiles sliced thin
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp cayenne powder
- ¼ tsp garam masala seasoning
- 14.5 oz crushed tomatoes (or 2 cups finely chopped)
- 4 cups water
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ tsp liquid smoke (optional)
- chopped cilantro
- drizzle of cream
- ground red chile
- Pick through the dried lentils and kidney beans, removing any debris like little rocks. Cover with tea cloth and soak them in water overnight.
- Cut onion in half. Keep one half intact and chop other half. Tie the whole cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick in a piece of cheesecloth with kitchen twine, set aide.
- Rinse the lentils and kidney beans and pour them into a large stock pot or Dutch oven and cover with water by an inch. Add half of the onion to the water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook on high for 10 minutes. Lower heat to simmer and cook covered for another 20 minutes. Remove and discard cooked onion half and drain lentils, set aside.
- In the large stock pot or Dutch oven add butter or ghee and sauté the other half of chopped onion for 2 minutes. Add the chiles, ginger paste, garlic, cumin, salt, turmeric, chili powder, cayenne, garam masala and sauté for 3 minutes until aromatic.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tied spice bag, water, par-cooked lentils and kidney beans. Cover and simmer on low for 45 minutes.
- Carefully remove spice bag and discard. Either use an immersion blender and pulse several times or transfer half to a blender and puree. Be careful as this is hot, keep lid vented slightly. Pour back into stock pot or Dutch and stir (See Note 1). Simmer for 10 more minutes. The soup becomes creamier as it simmers, almost a velvety consistency. Add more water as needed for desired consistency. Add the cream and liquid smoke (this is optional, but the flavor is great). Stir to incorporate in the lentils and season to taste.
- Serve this garnished with a drizzle of cream, chopped cilantro and lots of dosa, naan, roti, flatbread, pitas or whatever bread you like.
- You can also use an immersion blender and pulse several times if you still want some lentil texture, or puree until completely smooth.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.