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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1st Aug, 2012
Not great. Cream mde it quite cloying and speices didn't shine through. Won't be cooking this again.
22nd Dec, 2011
Having trouble finding black lentils, is there an alternative?
4th May, 2020
Hi, not really, you should probably look for a different dhal recipe. Sorry!
17th Dec, 2010
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.
21st Oct, 2010
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!
1st Aug, 2010
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.
27th Apr, 2010
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
15th Apr, 2010
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!
23rd Jul, 2009
Great dish, added diced chicken breast to create a really complete meal!
18th Jul, 2009
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!


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