Makhani dhal

Prep: 10 mins Cook: 45 mins


Serves 8
Dhal, made from lentils, peas or beans, is eaten all over India, with bread or rice

Nutrition and extra info

  • Before adding the cream
  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal317
  • fat17g
  • saturates9g
  • carbs30g
  • sugars5g
  • fibre7g
  • protein13g
  • salt0.78g
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  • 225g black lentils



    The lentil plant (Lens Culinaris) originates from Asia and North Africa and is one of our oldest…

  • 2 onions, finely chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 2 green chillies, deseeded and sliced
  • 50g butter, plus a small chunk



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 1 tbsp grated fresh root ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin



    An aromatic spice native to eastern Mediteranean countries and Upper Egypt. This warm,…

  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 x 400g cans red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 142ml pot double cream
  • ½ tsp garam masala
    Garam masala

    Garam masala

    gar-am mah-sarl-ah

    Meaning 'warming spice mix', garam masala is the main spice blend used in North Indian…

  • handful chopped coriander


  1. Boil the lentils in 800ml water for 15 mins until almost tender. Meanwhile, fry the onions and chillies in the 50g butter for about 7 mins until starting to soften. Stir in the ginger, garlic and spices and cook over a low heat for 1 min more.

  2. Pour in 800ml boiling water followed by the cooked lentils and any liquid. Add the bay leaves and beans, then simmer for 20 mins more until thickened. This can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, or frozen for up to 1 month.

  3. To serve, return to the heat if necessary and stir in the cream. Season well. Pour into a bowl, dot with the remaining butter, dust with garam masala and scatter with coriander.

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Comments (24)

SophieC1972's picture

Couriouscas, I created an account purely to thank you for your accurate and funny comment.

curiouscas's picture

I don't know why people change every single element of the recipe "used puy instead of black lentils, added stock cube, didn't use cream or butter, didn't have kidney beans so used actual chicken kidneys" and then feel the need to say "tasted strange, due to my addition of chicken it was no longer veggi as advertised, will not be making again!"
These must be the same people who write letters to newspapers

To all of you who say "added aubergine which was lovely" or "found it a bit bland, next time i'll use less cream" you are the comment kings and I love you all.

scousewegian's picture

These people who change half the ingredients, then give it 1 out 5 cause it doesn't taste good put the comedy in BBC food, please don't discourage them!

w1lmington's picture

Just made this and I used a can of Puy lentils and only had black beans in the cupboard, so threw then in, also felt it lacked taste so added a chicken stock cube. Left the cream out and also sprinkled in some red lentils as it was a bit soupy. It tastes okay but wouldn't make it again. Sorry.

cypriottasja's picture

Use a little less cream to avoid being to mild and too thick

edel72's picture

I found this quite bitter.; used oil and did not add cream so maybe that affected the taste. Served thru slotted spoon (to get rid of some sauce) and topped with low fat yoghurt which didn't curdle. Had with a gram flour pancake which really went well with it and tamed a little of the bitterness. Quite disappointed and not sure I'll give it another go.

helensmillie's picture

Love this recipe! I did replace the cream with coconut cream and added a tin of tomatoes and a little salt to the mix and it went down a treat. Even nicer after its sat for a day :)

giorgiokrishnna's picture

very good

jenniferatkinson's picture

Not great. Cream mde it quite cloying and speices didn't shine through. Won't be cooking this again.

johnandkath's picture

Having trouble finding black lentils, is there an alternative?

mum2k7a's picture

About to dig into this for dinner... Looks & tastes good so far. Used half butter half oil, added aubergines instead of beans, & skipped the cream. Hearing sounds of approval in the background.

johnbrolly's picture

this was too rich for me with the cream and the butter but everyone else liked it. they said there was too much kidney beans but as I love beans of any sort I thought there was the right amount! Mixed reviews on this one!

lorretta2010's picture

I made this for a buffet type party and everybody loved it. I found the recipe made it a bit too much like soup (unless I made it wrong) so I added some red lentils to thicken it up. I also added a vegetable stock cube. I found this delicious with or without the cream.

lizscarboro's picture

Excellent - very authentic. I added some shredded roast chicken which worked well. Might try it again with cannellini or some other beans rather than the kidney ones, just for variety!

rkarlekar's picture

I made this for my Indian partner, and he said it was fantastic for home made dal makahni! To answer the questions about leaving out cream, you could eat it at the stage before you add the cream, but this would make it dal, not dal makahni. It is healthier and tastes fine, perhaps a better option for weekly eating. I would definitly eat the cream version for a nice occasion or the first time you make it. Its fantastic. I followed the recepie almost exactly, but to make it a bit more authentic, I added tomoato as dal makahni is usually creamy and tomatoey! To do this I blended the onions and garlic instead of chopping and added fresh tomoatoes. 3-4 medium for the best taste! but all in all, approved by a local and we loved it! To give it a smoother texture, blend half the mixture before adding cream and stir this back in to the pot and then add the cream. This gives it texture, yet smootheness and is sublime!

chris_scott1530's picture

Great dish, added diced chicken breast to create a really complete meal!

markkoek's picture

Really enjoyed this dhal! I'm diabetic, so the beans and lentils are great for me, but the butter and cream not so much. So I left out the butter completely and substituted the cream with low fat (not fatfree,which will curdle) Bulgarian yogurt. Tasted great!

miniminx59's picture

i replaced the butter with oil and the cream with coconut milk for a vegan version. delicious!

jackyspring's picture

really liked this, even the fussy men and teens in my family enjoyed it! ate it with toasted naan breads. made it exactly how the recipe said and its great just as it is!!

p1763717's picture

Really lovely. Just like the Tiffin Bites Dal.


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