Ever go to an Indian restaurant and wonder how they make those lentils? I hated lentils before I discovered Indian food. Then I scoured the internet to figure out how they achieved them, and through mixing and matching recipes and methods on videos, I've arrived at this recipe, which I think is pretty close. This version is very rich, but you can leave out the cream to make it lighter. Kasuri methi (fenugreek leaves) is almost impossible to find in the U.S., even in NYC, but it gives this dish something very special.

Recipe Summary

prep:
15 mins
cook:
2 hrs
additional:
2 hrs
total:
4 hrs 15 mins
Servings:
6
Yield:
6 servings
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Ingredients

6
Original recipe yields 6 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Place lentils and kidney beans in a large bowl; cover with plenty of water. Soak for at least 2 hours or overnight. Drain.

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  • Cook lentils, kidney beans, 5 cups water, and salt in a pot over medium heat until tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove from heat and set aside. Keep the lentils, kidney beans, and any excess cooking water in the pot.

  • Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook cumin seeds in the hot oil until they begin to pop, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and cloves; cook until bay leaves turn brown, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; add ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Stir to coat.

  • Stir tomato puree into spice mixture; cook over medium heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, coriander, and butter; cook and stir until butter is melted.

  • Stir lentils, kidney beans and any leftover cooking water into tomato mixture; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Stir fenugreek into lentil mixture. Cover saucepan and simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Add cream and cook until heated through, 2 to 4 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

390 calories; protein 13.2g 26% DV; carbohydrates 37.1g 12% DV; fat 21.5g 33% DV; cholesterol 47.5mg 16% DV; sodium 420.2mg 17% DV. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (57)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
05/20/2014
My husband and I have made many different types of dal over the years, that were all great, but we will be making this dal makhani for now on. It's absolutely delicious!!! In fact my husband loved it so much he had leftover dal and brown rice for breakfast this morning, lol! I did make some minor changes to the recipe. Instead of 2 Tbsp salt, I only added 1 tsp of salt and it was plenty enough, I may consider adding even less the next time I make it. Also, in place of the butter and heavy cream, I used 2 Tbsp trans-fat free margarine and fat-free half and half. And lastly, SOGOLONDJATA is right, fenugreek leaves are close to impossible to find state side. I added 1 Tbsp fenugreek seeds in place of the leaves; the flavor is much more intense in the seeds, but they are much easier to find in an Indian spice market. Be sure to remove the bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon (I left it whole; its easier to fetch out) and black cardamom before eating, especially if your serving to children. Another thought ~ after toasting the spices, it would be fairly easy to wrap them in cheese cloth. Thank you so very much for posting this recipe. Read More
(33)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
01/31/2013
I have to agree with cengelberg the recipe shown is far too salty. I made the recipe for 6 people and it called for 2 tablespoons of salt but change that to 2 teaspoons and you'll be fine. I also used canned kidney beans instead of dry so if you go my way be sure to drain the excess water after cooking the lentils and beans or you'll end up with dal makhani soup. Read More
(25)
77 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 49
  • 4 star values: 21
  • 3 star values: 6
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 5 stars
05/20/2014
My husband and I have made many different types of dal over the years, that were all great, but we will be making this dal makhani for now on. It's absolutely delicious!!! In fact my husband loved it so much he had leftover dal and brown rice for breakfast this morning, lol! I did make some minor changes to the recipe. Instead of 2 Tbsp salt, I only added 1 tsp of salt and it was plenty enough, I may consider adding even less the next time I make it. Also, in place of the butter and heavy cream, I used 2 Tbsp trans-fat free margarine and fat-free half and half. And lastly, SOGOLONDJATA is right, fenugreek leaves are close to impossible to find state side. I added 1 Tbsp fenugreek seeds in place of the leaves; the flavor is much more intense in the seeds, but they are much easier to find in an Indian spice market. Be sure to remove the bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon (I left it whole; its easier to fetch out) and black cardamom before eating, especially if your serving to children. Another thought ~ after toasting the spices, it would be fairly easy to wrap them in cheese cloth. Thank you so very much for posting this recipe. Read More
(33)
Rating: 3 stars
01/30/2013
I have to agree with cengelberg the recipe shown is far too salty. I made the recipe for 6 people and it called for 2 tablespoons of salt but change that to 2 teaspoons and you'll be fine. I also used canned kidney beans instead of dry so if you go my way be sure to drain the excess water after cooking the lentils and beans or you'll end up with dal makhani soup. Read More
(25)
Rating: 3 stars
12/29/2012
I think the recipe would have turned out great if much less salt was used. I adjusted the recipe for 16 people and it called for 1/3 cup salt. It was extremely salty. Tried to reduce salt by adding potatoes with minimal results. I would recommend at least halving the salt content and work up from there. Read More
(25)
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Rating: 5 stars
04/05/2014
I also cut the salt - 2tsp works great. I have most of these spices in my cupboard but I was missing a few - didn't matter. I also used ghee instead of butter which is the magic answer for me. Get it at Indian grocers Trader Joe's or make some clarified butter yourself. It's worth it. Very rich and warm - and delicious with basmati rice. Note: I removed the bay leaves before eating. Read More
(11)
Rating: 4 stars
01/26/2014
Warning to anyone who wants to try this recipe: use 2 TEASPOONS salt - or even less and add as needed. The dish smelled and looked amazing and was absolutely delicious except for the extreme saltiness. Unfortunately I couldn't fix the doubled recipe and decided to dump the entire thing out. Will definitely try again some time soon with MUCH less salt - and will probably use kosher instead or regular salt. I had read the previous reviews and reduced the amount of salt but didn't realize by how much I should have reduced it by. I'm sure my next attempt will turn out great!!! Read More
(9)
Rating: 1 stars
10/01/2018
My girlfriend made this for dinner after a long day and mistakenly followed the recipe which calls for 2 tablespoons of salt. This recipe should be corrected or taken down. Recipes like this are why I refer to this site as the craigslist list of cooking. I blame this site, and it's users (Yeah I am talkin' to you AL, who gave this recipe 5 stars). If this site functioned properly it would allow users to moderate recipes so this type of error wouldn't occur. Read More
(8)
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Rating: 5 stars
10/21/2014
While it isnt the best indian recipe its by far the worlds best lentil recipe but I didnt use much salt. Read More
(5)
Rating: 5 stars
02/24/2013
This recipe was tried by my family during Phase 1 of South Beach. We did not use any of the optional ingredients and omitted the butter. We did add some butter flavor. We salt our meals at the table so I cannot remember how much salt we added. This is authentic Indian food with the raw form of spices. Chew carefully to keep from biting a clove etc. Read More
(3)
Rating: 3 stars
03/31/2015
TOO SALTY!! This recipe has a lot of delicious flavors going on but I really wish I would have read the other comments about the salt. I would reduce the salt to maybe 1 or 2 teaspoons. I'm wondering if the person who wrote this recipe meant to only put 2 tsps and mistook tsps for tbsps. Also I'm not sure where the picture thats shown is from it doesn't look like that at all. Then again I couldn't find fenugreek leaves and used ground fenugreek seeds instead. Read More
(3)
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