Makhani dhal

Makhani dhal

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(18 ratings)

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 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 a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 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, questions and tips

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4th May, 2020
I have tried 2 or 3 different dhal recipes using black lentils (just found some on Google and picked the ones the sounded good) but this is by far the nicest. All the other ones lacked something - a bit of spice or texture. I have now made it twice, both times during the covid-19 UK lockdown, I had to use what was in cupboards so one time I used one tin of cannellini beans and one of chickpeas, and the second time - one red kidney beans and one butter beans. I think in the end, it doesn't matter what beans you use, as long as you have the right amount. I read everyone's comments carefully before making it and used slightly more spices then told in the recipe (this is BBC after all), so when it said to use 2 teaspoons of something, I used 2 heaped spoons and so on. I also added in a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch or two of ground fenugreek. The second time round I used coconut milk instead of cream (I had some leftover from another recipe) and it was as nice and also means that if you replace the butter with oil, you can make it fully vegan. Lastly, I stirred in two heaped tablespoons of tomato paste each time for extra richness (at the same time when stirring in the dry spices) - someone recommend it in comments and it made a lot of sense to do. Even my boyfriend, who is a massive meat-eater loves it. I hope my comment is helpful, you can indeed change little things in the recipe and make it work and I will definitely make it again.
T Mistry's picture
T Mistry
21st Apr, 2020
Used red lentils and cooked for longer before, but still worked well and makes a lot!
5th Dec, 2015
Couriouscas, I created an account purely to thank you for your accurate and funny comment.
8th Feb, 2015
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.
24th Feb, 2016
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!
7th Jan, 2014
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.
11th May, 2013
Use a little less cream to avoid being to mild and too thick
2nd Feb, 2013
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.
9th Dec, 2012
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 :)
6th Aug, 2012
very good


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