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Daal makhani: simple lentil recipe

Lentil stews like daal makhani are great to eat with some Indian bread like naan or roti.
Lentil stews like daal makhani are great to eat with some Indian bread like naan or roti.
S Biswas

In Indian cuisine lentils are a good source of proteins especially for a vegetarian diet. Lentils are seeds of certain bean like plants that are generally stored dry and then soaked and boiled to make stews like daal , soups, or mixed with rice to make khichdi in the Indian subcontinent. They are rich in amino acids, vitamin B, fiber etc Some common lentils used in Indian cuisine include mung, masoor (red lentils), chana (chick pea), toor (split pigeon pea), urad (black gram). Other beans like rajma (kidney beans), lobia (black eye beans) are also considered daal.

A very popular kind of daal eaten in North Indian states is called daal makhani. It is made using a mixture of urad (black gram) and rajma (kidney beans) and finished with some butter and cream. It is usually a little heavy due to the cream. I have modified a recipe for daal makhani using ½ cup whole milk instead of the cream. The taste remains the same but it is easier on one’s digestion.

Daal makhani


  • 1 cup whole urad daal
  • ½ cup rajma (kidney beans)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 onion (chopped finely)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tomato (chopped)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp whole cumin
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp butter or ghee
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp chopped cilantro and green chilies

Soak urad daal and rajma in 4 cups of water overnight. Boil both daals in the water with 1 tsp salt in a pressure cooker till soft and mushy. Check to see if daal is soft, then add the milk and keep aside. In a pan, heat the canola oil. Add whole cumin seeds and then the onion. Fry till translucent. Add garlic, ginger paste, tomatoes and cook till tomatoes are soft and mushy. Add cumin powder, salt, turmeric, chili and garam masala powders. Now add the boiled daal and 1 cup of water. Boil till the daal is thick. Finish with 1 tsp ghee or butter on the top and garnish with chopped cilantro and chilies. Serve hot with some Indian bread like naan or roti.

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