Dal Makhani – Black Lentils in Spicy Cream Sauce

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Dal Makhani is one of my favorite dish in North Indian Restaurants. I love its nutty taste in tangy cream, flavored with pungent garlic. I never bothered to try it at home. Didn’t even know what type of lentils is used to make this dish. Later on only when I checked it with one of my Indian friend, I got to know the type of lentils used to make this awesome dish.

I’m glad I like lentils and legumes, as it’s a good source of low fat protein for vegetarians. Quinoa is the best protein source for vegetarians and vegans. However I’m still not that fond of quinoa, even though I’ve tried them on salads and soups I really didn’t like its taste. Second best protein source is tofu, which is a very versatile product. You can use them in fried rice, noodles, soups, salads and stir fries. Stir fried tofu in spicy chili sauce would be a wonderful dish. You can apply the same method I used to make stir- fried eggplant and cook tofu.

My preferred protein sources are lentils, legumes and dairy instead of tofu or quinoa. But lentils are not a complete source of protein, you always have to combine number of lentils or consume dairy to get complete protein. Black lentils, red lentils and chickpeas are my favorites. Black lentils are also used to make Dosa – Indian Crepes.
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Serves 3-4
100g Black lentils (black urad dhal), wash and soak in water overnight


Grind below ingredients to paste using food processor
6 garlic gloves
Small piece of ginger
1 large tomato
1 large onion
3-4 fresh red chili
Few curry leaves (optional)
Handful of coriander leaves


2 tbsp of vegetable oil
4 tbsp tomato puree
2tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1tsp fenugreek leaves
½ tsp turmeric powder
Pinch of Asafoedita powder
150ml thick cream (vegans can use coconut cream)
1 tsp Garam masala for fragrance
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste


Pressure cook black lentils. Add water and salt to the pressure cooker, and cook for few minutes and once it starts to whistle, continue to cook for further five minutes. Turn off heat and leave it aside for 15-20 minutes till all pressure is gone. Then remove the lid.

Alternatively boil black lentils in a sauce pan, covering the lid for 40-45 minutes till they are soft and mushy.

Seperately in a large wok, heat oil and stir fry ground paste till it turn into brown color and oil seperates from the mixture.


Add tomato puree, chili powder, curry powder, turmeric powder, asafoedita and fenugreek leaves. Stir well till all spices are combined and forms into a thick paste.

Add cream, and 200ml water. Mix the gravy well, close the lid and cook for 5-10 minutes. When gravy starts to simmer open the lid leave it to thicken. Add cooked black lentils and stir well.


Season with salt, garam masala and lemon juice.

Note: Use of Asafoedita and fenugreek leaves are optional. Asafoedita helps to ease digestion of legumes and gives a pungent flavor. Same with fenugreek leaves, as it gives a pungent north Indian flavor to this dish.