Dan’s Dal Makhani

SonjaMain Courses23 Comments

Dan's Dal Makhani

Dan's Dal Makhani

Do you have people in your life you feel like you were fated to meet? We’re lucky to have several of those people in our lives, and one of them is Dan. We like to joke that Dan is more of  a brother than a friend – so much so that we created a new word for it (yep, he’s our briend).

Our briend Dan lives two houses down, and is always up for a front-porch chat or a walk to the corner brewpub. While I was in Cambodia, Dan kept Alex company, and convinced Alex to try a dish he’d been craving from his recent trip to India. With Dan at the helm, they created this dal makhani, a spicy lentil and bean stew. It might not be exactly traditional, but it’s intensely flavorful and delicious. Upon my return, they couldn’t wait to make it again for me. We topped it with sour cream and sopped it up with whole wheat pita, but if we’d had naan on hand we’d have gone with that.

We couldn’t wait to share this with you — and while it’s transitioning out of stew weather here, it’s never too hot to enjoy some good Indian food. Maybe with a briend (or frister)?

And, Happy Birthday, Dan!

Dan's Dal Makhani
Serves: 4
What You Need
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup minced ginger
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2½ cups milk, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1½ tablespoons garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 15-ounce cans black lentils (or 3 cups cooked black lentils)
  • 15-ounce can black beans
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Naan or pita bread, for serving
  • Sour cream, to garnish
  • Fresh cilantro, to garnish
What To Do
  1. Dice 1 onion, mince 8 cloves garlic, and peel and mince ¼ cup ginger.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the tomato paste and ½ cup milk until smooth.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sauté 2 teaspoons cumin seeds until they just start to brown, about 1 minute. Add onion, garlic and ginger, and sauté 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons coriander, 1½ tablespoons garam masala, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 2 tablespoons butter, tomato paste and milk mixture, and another ½ cup milk. Add the beans and lentils and about 1½ teaspoons kosher salt (use less salt if not kosher; taste so as not to over-salt).
  5. Heat and stir, gradually adding the remainder of the milk (1½ cups, or more) over a few minutes until a thick sauce forms.
  6. Serve warm, with naan or pita bread for dipping. Top with sour cream and chopped cilantro.

23 Comments on “Dan’s Dal Makhani”

  1. Laura

    I loooove eating spicy Indian food when the temperature rises. I feel like it helps my body cope a bit better somehow? Could be total nonsense too. Either way, this sounds delicious, especially when there’s good “briends” around to help cook it up :)

  2. Jess

    It’s definitely never too hot for spicy foods – in fact, as you guys know – in Southeast Asia there’s a strong believe that the hotter the weather, the MORE appropriate spicy foods are.
    The photo here is gorgeous, as always, but all the more impressive since dal is one of those foods that seems particularly tricky to photograph!

    1. Sonja

      Thanks you, Jess! It’s nice to hear from others who understand the challenge of photographing a pile of brown slop :) Hope all is well in Southeast Asia!

  3. Lauren

    I normally hate when people ask about substitutions, but I have absolutely no idea where to find black lentils and currently have a bag of normal, brown (?) lentils in my cupboard. Will those do the trick, or are black lentils vital to this recipe? Otherwise, this looks amazing!

    1. Sonja

      Hi Lauren! Great question. We found the black lentils in cans near the normal canned beans in our grocery. I asked both Alex and Dan and we all agreed that canned lentils seem to be the ingredient to use here. Dan has tried it with cooked brown lentils but it didn’t turn out as well. I would think any type of canned lentils would work, but black lentils had a nice texture in this dish — they hold together a bit better than brown lentils (which can become mushy). Thanks for asking – let us know if you give it a try!

      1. Shachi

        Hi friends,
        For Dal Makhani, it is essential that you get black lentil only. It is also called as Whole Urad daal (with skin). There are at least 10 other types of lentils available in the US market but they are not used to make Dal Makhani. I usually buy them from any international grocery store and soak them for 4-6 hrs and then cook them in a pressure cooker. I know it sounds cumbersome, but gives the best results. I do not know where you could find the canned ones…may be at Trader Joe’s.

        1. Sonja

          Thank you so much for this feedback, Shachi! We found our black lentils canned at Fresh Market — but it’s good to know there’s an alternative (albeit a bit more labor intensive!). Thanks!

  4. Sara {Home is Where the Cookies Are}

    This looks so interesting, and the flavors look like ones my family would happily eat! Ever since I read Little Princes by Conor Grennan I’ve been wanting to discover what dal is. Maybe we’ll experiment with traditional vs. nontraditional. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Lindsay

    We made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! We skipped the butter and added only 1 cup of milk, and it was nice and thick with the naan. We’d add more milk if we were serving it with rice, which would be good too. Thanks for such a great recipe!!

  6. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies

    Oh, this is one of my favorite Indian dishes! I have to admit, usually I am too intimidated to cook Indian food (it never turns out well for me!), but I think I’m going to have to give this one a try. :)

    1. Alex

      I feel like many of the Indian dishes we’ve tried are sub-par… but while this was cooking I went outside and returned to the kitchen and scent of the spices was just fantastic! Dan really came up with something that seems authentic to mid-America me :)

  7. Russell

    This recipe matches Dan’s spicy personality well. Really good though. Couldn’t find black lentils, though. To be honest I’m not sure they actually exist.

  8. Megan

    This was so yummy! Tim has been wanting to try this for a few weeks and I finally made it this evening. We were out of milk and butter so I used a can of light coconut milk/cream and coconut oil instead. It turned out great. The flavor with the tomato paste and spice mix (plus all of that ginger) is really lovely.

  9. Darlene

    I have been searching for years for a simple Dahl recipe that is both flavourful and lower in calories than the traditional and this recipe meets all my qualifications. Loved it.

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