Plant-based Dal Makhani, black lentil dahl with its mild, creamy smoothness is so wonderful that you may want to make a double batch. Honestly, it’s that comfortably addictive. Good thing it’s healthy and guilt-free.
Whole black lentils, also known as urid beans, black gram, vigna mungo as well as other names are the main ingredient for this simple black lentil dahl. Although you aren’t likely to find black lentils in cans on the shelf, you will find them dry. Yes folks, we’re going to cook our own beans.
I was a bit skeptical when I started with 1 ½ cups of lentils that I’d get 4 servings from the final recipe. Wrong, Denise. The rehydrated lentils nearly doubled in size. Unlike split red lentils, they didn’t break down so easily, giving our Dal Makhani a ‘creamy with texture’ finish.
Urid beans are surprisingly easy to prepare. You'll need to do this from scratch as you won't be finding convenient cans lined on the supermarket shelves.
Never fear, all you need to remember is to soak them overnight. If you happen to forget, try the following quick-soak method:
- Rinse and sort through your dry beans, picking out any stones or ‘bad’ beans.
- Add the beans to a medium pot and cover them with water (about 4-5 inches over).
- Bring the pot to a boil and boil the beans for 2 minutes.
- Cut the heat and allow the beans to soak for at least 1 hour.
Dal Makhani isn’t quite a one-pot meal, but it’s still a minimal preparation. While our beans are cooking, we’ll make a ‘tempering’ from the onions, garlic, ginger, spices and tomatoes. If you decide to add more spice, just remember that there is cayenne pepper in the bean pot. You can always adjust when you combine everything.
Depending on how old your lentils are, you will need about 30-45 minutes to cook them. You want the cooking liquid to reduce by about half. Don’t overthink this – once you add the tempering to the lentils, you’ll do another 30 minutes of cooking, so there’s plenty of time to keep reducing.
Our final step in creating the ultimate in creamy dal is adding coconut milk. If you want to keep the fat to a minimum, you could also add a different kind of plant-based milk. Toss in a few drops of coconut extract to replicate the flavor.
Dal, daal, dail, dhal, dahl?
Time to clear the air. It’s all the same thing! No matter how you spell it, we’re talking about dried, split pulses/legumes (think lentils, peas) and all the wonderful soups made with them. What happens after that depends on which pulse, which spice and in my opinion which garnishes. For example, you'll get entirely different culinary experiences if you prepare a quick red lentil dahl or French lentil soup.
I’ve been looking forward to perfecting Dal Makhani ever since I had a first taste of it (same day as my first date with my husband). I know my plant-based oil free version isn’t entirely the same, but it definitely brought up fond memories of a rather eventful trip to the UK. It reminds me that food fills more than the physical. It can bind us to the past in positive ways. Peace.Print