Dal Makhani (Buttery Lentil Chili)

Dal Makhani (Buttery Lentil Chili)

If you have some lentils and beans, but are unsure of how to cook them…look no further than the Punjab region of India. The plethora of savory vegetarian chili recipes is impressive, and dal makhani is hearty and flavorful, the perfect compliment to the fall season.

A friend recently was gushing over a dal makhani she enjoyed at her local Indian restaurant, and then this tasty lentil stew was served at another friend’s baby shower. Food Fate was clearly telling me it was time to post about dal makhani.

If this is your first time cooking Indian food, be forewarned, your spice cabinet is about to acquire some new items. But the spices in this dish are standard in almost all other Indian dishes, so you can make good use of them. 🙂

Grocery List (Click Here) – served with rice
Special tools: blender, a pressure cooker, and pan/pot with a lid

Dal Makhani

Soak overnight:

  • 3/4 cups, Urid dal (black gram lentil)
    (whole urid provides the signature dark color to the dish)
  • 1/4 cup, Red Kidney beans
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing), optional
    (helps with the digestion of beans….if you know what I mean)

Keep the beans covered under water while soaking, but drain prior to cooking.

In a pressure cooker on medium heat, cook until mushy:
(5-6 whistles (about 25-30 minutes), or the “chili” setting on an electric pressure/rice cooker)

  • Soaked Urid dal and Red Kidney beans
  • 3 cups water


In a blender, purée and set aside:

  • 2 tomatoes (4 Romas)

On medium to medium-high heat in a pan (with a lid), add:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 black cardamon pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 cinnamon stick (1-3 inches)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

When butter is hot and cumin seeds begin to brown, add:

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (2-3 pods)

After onions are well-cooked and lightly brown (10-12 mins),  add:

  • Tomato puree
  • 2 tsp paprika (non-spicy)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp methi powder (fenugreek)
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder

Cover with lid, and allow to cook (~10 minutes), stirring periodically


When the dal/beans are thoroughly cooked, stir and mash with a spoon.

Blend into cooked dal/beans:

  • 1/3 cup cream (or half-n-half)

Add the dal/bean mixture directly to the tomato spice mix, blend.

Allow to cook an additional 10 minutes with the lid on, stirring periodically. Adjust salt and spice to taste.

Serve with white rice!

One of my other favorite bean dishes is also from the Punjab region, and is called Rajma (red bean curry). I love it so much I fused the recipe with another delicious food region, the southern US’s red beans and rice to make a Southern-Style Rajma.


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