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Dal Makhani: Black lentil Dahl

Dal Makhani - black lentil dahl in black bowl with white rice, red onion slices, lemon slices and chopped cilantro on stone board with whole red chilis.

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This creamy Dal Makhani, black lentil dah recipe with an easy spiced tomato tempering and smooth coconut milk is plant-based and oil free. Guilt-free yum!


Units Scale


  • 1 1/2 cups (11 oz./300 gm) urid beans (whole black lentils), rinsed
  • 4 cups (1 liter) water
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. fenugreek
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1- 15 oz. (400 gm) can cherry or diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups (350 ml) coconut milk


  • Rice of your choice
  • Chopped cilantro (coriander), lemon slices, sliced red chili peppers or thinly sliced red onion


  1. Rinse the urid beans, place them in a large pot and cover them with water about 4 inches above the beans. Soak the beans overnight or follow the quick-soak method described above (in this blog post).
  2. Drain the soaked beans, give the pot a quick rinse and put the beans back in the pot with 4 cups of fresh water. Add ½ tsp. cayenne pepper, 3 bay leaves and ½ tsp. salt. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Cover the pot and simmer the beans for 30-45 minutes until the beans are starting to get tender and the liquid has reduced by about half. Keep an eye on the pot and add more water if necessary.
  3. While the beans are cooking, make the tempering.
  4. Heat a skillet (something you can cover) or medium pot and add the diced onions. Sauté the onions for about 5 minutes until they start to soften.
  5. Add the garlic, ginger, ½ tsp. fenugreek, 1 tsp. ground turmeric, 2 tsp. cumin, 2 tsp. coriander, 2 tsp. garam masala, ½ tsp. paprika and 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika. Mix well and sauté for another minute.
  6. Add the tomatoes. As they cook, break up and mash them using a wooden spoon (if using whole tomatoes, you may want to dice them before adding). Set the heat to low and allow the tomatoes to reduce and become a bit ‘saucy’.
  7. Once the beans have cooked and their liquid is reduced, add the tomato mixture, and the coconut milk. (Note: you may want to reserve ¼ cup coconut milk to add as a garnish right before serving.) Stir, reduce to medium low and continue cooking the beans for another 30 minutes until they beans are very tender and start breaking down a bit and the sauce becomes creamy.
  8. Taste and add salt, pepper or other spices to taste.
  9. Serve with rice if desired.
  10. Garnish with chopped cilantro (coriander), thinly sliced red chili, sliced red onions or lemon slices.


  • Nutritional information does not include rice.
  • Prep time is based on preparing the beans. The ingredients for the tempering can be prepared and cooked while the beans are simmering.
  • Cooking time for the urid beans will depend on how old the beans are (older will take longer).
  • If you can’t find urid beans, it is possible to substitute mung beans or adzuki beans. You can also substantially reduce the cooking time using canned adzuki beans. If you take this option, be sure to mash some of the beans as they cook so they break down and help create a creamy sauce.
  • Dal Makhani is easy to freeze and serve. Simply store it in an airtight container in the freezer and reheat in the microwave.