Creamy black dhal with crispy onions

Creamy black dhal with crispy onions

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(23 ratings)

Prep: 35 mins Cook: 6 hrs, 35 mins plus 4 hrs soaking (cook for 2 hrs 35 mins, if using hob instead of slow cooker)


Serves 4

This super-satisfying, slow cooker curry is packed with iron and fibre. Serve with a choice of tasty garnishes to turn your simple supper into a warming feast

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Easily doubled
  • Gluten-free
  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal527
  • fat34g
  • saturates21g
  • carbs35g
  • sugars9g
  • fibre6g
  • protein19g
  • salt0.1g
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  • 250g black urid beans (also called urid dal, urad dal, black lentils or black gram beans - available from large supermarkets) - yellow split peas also work well
  • 100g butter or ghee



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

  • 2 large white onions, halved and thinly sliced



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

  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped



    Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika



    A spice that's central to Hungarian cuisine, paprika is made by drying a particular type of…

  • ¼ tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • small bunch coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves reserved to serve
  • 400g passata or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 fat red chilli, pierced a few times with the tip of a sharp knife



    Part of the capsicum family, chillies come in scores of varieties and colours (from green…

  • 50ml double cream

To serve

  • cooked rice, naan bread or baked sweet potatoes



    Rice is a grain, the seed of a type of grass, which is the most widely grown and the most…

  • coriander
  • sliced red chilli
  • lime wedges



    The same shape, but smaller than…

  • yogurt (or a swirl of cream)



    Yogurt is made by adding a number of types of harmless bacteria to milk, causing it to ferment.…

  • your favourite Indian pickle or chutney
  • crispy salad onions (to make your own, see recipe below)



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


  1. Soak the beans in cold water for 4 hrs (or overnight, if you like).

  2. Melt the butter or ghee in a large pan, then add the onions, garlic and ginger, and cook slowly for 10-15 mins until the onions are starting to caramelise. Stir in the spices, coriander stalks and 100ml water. Pour into the slow cooker (or leave in the pan if cooking on the hob). Add the passata and whole red chilli. Drain the beans and add these too, then top up with 400ml water. Season well, set the slow cooker to Low and cook for 5-6 hrs (or cover and cook for 2 hrs over a very low heat on the hob).

  3. Once cooked, the dhal should be very thick and the beans tender. Stir in the cream, check the seasoning and serve in bowls with naan bread, rice or in a jacket potato, with your choice of toppings. To freeze the dhal, cool completely, then divide into containers or sandwich bags. Freeze for up to 2 months, defrost and heat thoroughly before eating.

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Comments, questions and tips

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26th Dec, 2019
I made 3 portions so used 75% for most things (but full measurements for the spices). I used red lentils (but added a small bit more water than 3/4 as a result). I also used single cream. I chopped up chilli to add at the end so each person could adjust it to their own taste. I found the cooking time using the above to be correct for a low heat slow cooker for 5.5 hours.
13th Nov, 2019
really tasty dish, I cheated and used tinned beans - the onions are critical, really finish the dish off
Megan P
12th Feb, 2019
Wish I had followed advice below. Cooked double batch to freeze yesterday using yellow split peas. 14 hours later.... the dish is still not cooked. Soaked the peas over night but did not boil them beforehand. The meal smells delicious although not ready for consumption. Goodfood you really need to re look at this recipe and try to make it yourself again.
diana.m.j's picture
21st Nov, 2018
I cooked this dish yesterday and I was happy that I had read the comments before cooking. I put my black urid beans in the slow cooker for 9 hours and they still had this crunchy after bite. I had too much fluid left. Dish was delicious for sure but not sure if I use the slow cooker again.
21st Oct, 2018
I used puy lentils in this as I couldn't find the urid beans, and half the butter and bit less cream. I think the whole thing cooked in about 1.5 hours, as the lentils don't need soaking first. This meal is delicious! We had it with flat breads (Jamie Oliver recipe).
28th Aug, 2018
I cooked the whole dish in 1 hour: Having soaked the yellow split peas overnight, I then boiled them rapidly while cooking the onions, spices and tomatoes. The speedy trick was to add the split peas into the softened spicy mix in a PRESSURE COOKER! It saved literally hours and was perfect within 40 minutes.
17th Nov, 2016
If you are making this with yellow split peas, make sure you both soak them overnight AND boil them before using them. 6-7 hours is not enough time for them to soften. Otherwise the spices were really nice and the crispy onions are definitely a great addition.
28th Apr, 2016
Love this recipe! I missed out the crispy onions as I was having for a packed lunch but I did also try adding sweetcorn and spinach which was lovely and added some of my 5-a-day. Highly recommend.
12th Mar, 2016
Great recipe although I left out the cream and the crispy onions and I had this with some brown rice and kale....lovely! I'd give this 5 stars
4th Mar, 2016
I boiled the split peas for 20 minutes before putting in the slow cooker. It was on low for 6 hours and then high for another 45 minutes. In the end I put it in a pan to boil for another 10 minutes. The result was very disappointing and despite all the spices, tasted bland.


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