Dal Makhani

This is a really simple dish but does take some forethought: you need to cook the lentils for about two hours before adding them to the rest of the ingredients (depending on the lentil). Other than that, it’s super simple and really good for you, so long as you keep an eye on how much “butter” you use. The traditional version is pretty heavy-handed with cream and butter. I’ve tried it with black lentils as well as with brown lentils and each was pretty tasty with slight differences in texture and cooking time. I recommend both!  Put on MIA to keep yourself grooving while the lentils are cooking.

Pair this with baigan bharta and jasmine-scented basmati rice for a delicious Indian-inspired meal.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup dry whole black lentils a.k.a. ural dal. Soak overnight or boil for about 2 hours in a large pot with lots of extra water and, if you’re feeling fancy, a veggie broth cube
  • about 1/4 cup dry or 1/2 cup cooked red kidney beans (you can also use a handful of canned red kidney beans in a pinch – just toss them in once the lentils are cooked)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 0.5 tsp sea salt
  • 0.5 tbsp garlic paste or 2-3 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 0.5 tbsp ginger paste or finely chopped fresh ginger root
  • 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 0.5 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 medium-sized tomato, finely chopped, or in a pinch, half a can of tomatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 cup coconut or soy milk (use more or less depending on how creamy you want to dish)
  •  1 tbsp veggie butter (see “staples“) or olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, slit down the middle
  • fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté onions until lightly browned and fragrant. Stir in salt, garlic, ginger, cayenne, black pepper and lime juice, and fry for a few seconds. Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few minutes to combine well. Add the precooked lentils and beans and add about 0.5 cups of water (you may need to add a bit more depending on how long you cook the lentils for – overall, the consistency is supposed to be smooth and saucy, not thin and runny). Cook for a few minutes until lentils are soft and falling apart. Stir in soy milk and let it come to a boil. In a separate pan, heat the “butter” and whole garlic cloves slit down the middle, cooking until the garlic is fragrant and slightly browned. Stir the garlic butter into the lentils and garnish with fresh coriander leaves (this is optional for those of you who like coriander). Serve with soft, fluffy Naan bread, with brown basmati rice or, if you’re feeling fusiony, barley!

Variations: Toss in about a cup of fresh spinach 30 seconds before you serve the dish if you want to “green it up”.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Paquita says:

    Love the idea of slow cooker Indian!! I just discovered Anupy Singla’s “The Indian Slow Cooker” book which is mostly vegan or easily vegan adaptable and they are SIMPLE! She uses dried beans, unsoaked and most of the recipes you dump everything in at once and push the button. A couple have you cook the mustard seeds, etc…on the stove at the end but SO EASY!!
    I have some of my totally NOVICE experience with slow cooker and Indian food written about at http://www.getskinnygovegan.blogspot.com
    But you might LOVE this book!! I stumbled upon it upon accident because I only look in the vegan book sections.

  2. lil' vegan says:

    Awesome Paquita, thanks for the suggestion. I’m in the process of checking it out as I type (yay multi-tasking!) – neato blog!

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