dhal makhani

dhal makhani

It has been a cold weekend here in Melbourne, with plenty of driving rain and the threat of hail to help with the air of general chill and misery.

It is the perfect weather for eating warming, comforting food, so I decided to make some dhal makhani. This has always been a favourite of mine, but eating it at restaurants is now pretty much out as it is packed with butter and cream. I always thought that this is what made it so delicious, but really it isn’t. The secret is long slow cooking.

I’ll be honest and say I am usually pretty crap at making Indian food. It just never turns out how I want or imagine it should be or it ends up all tasting the same.

To try and improve my skills, one of the blogs that I have been following recently is Vaishali’s Holy Cow, a vegan, mostly Indian blog. I spotted a recipe for dhal there that came from another vegetarian Indian website Veg Inspirations. That recipe is for a slow cooker, which I don’t possess, but it also came with instructions for stovetop cooking.

I have repeated the recipe here as a stovetop recipe, because I want to keep it, not because I’ve changed it much at all.  I pretty much followed the recipe at Veg Inspirations with the following minor changes:

  • I substituted half a cup of split urad dhal for part of the whole dhal.  I think the split dhal has made it extra creamy as it cooks more quickly and breaks apart completely in the long cooking time.
  • I cooked it all very slowly for about 5 hours.
  • I added some vegan butter from Half Pint Dairy at serving to give it some extra creaminess.

It is utterly delicious, and it tastes authentic.  I’d really urge you to make it, I know you won’t be disappointed.

The long slow cooking gives it a real creaminess. I honestly can’t tell it doesn’t have cream in it. You could even leave the ‘butter’ out.

I ate it with some chapati bread. I also ate it on toast for breakfast this morning and for lunch. It makes a lot. 🙂


dhal makhani
prep time
cook time
total time
recipe type: savoury
cuisine: vegan indian
serves: 8
  • ¾ cup urad dhal or whole black gram lentil with skin
  • ½ cup split urad dhal
  • ¼ cup red kidney beans
  • 2 medium onions finely chopped
  • 1½ 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 long green chilies finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger finely grated
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cups of water
  • fresh coriander leaves for garnish
  1. Soak the beans and lentils in water overnight.
  2. Drain the lentils and red kidney beans.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds to it.
  4. When the cumin seeds splutter, add green chilies and stir for a few seconds.
  5. Add the onions and saute them until transparent and soft.
  6. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for a few seconds.
  7. Add the tomatoes and stir until they become mushy and soft.
  8. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala and stir for a few seconds.
  9. Add the drained lentils and beans, water as required and let the entire mixture simmer together until the lentils and beans have softened and cooked.
  10. When the beans are half cooked, add salt to taste and continue. I let mine cook for 5 hours in total
  11. Garnish with the coriander.





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