We’ve lightened up this traditionally rich and creamy, Dal Makhani, creating a flavorful Indian Kidney Bean and Lentil Stew that is perfect over rice or served with some warm flatbread.
What is a Indian Dal?
Dal comes from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘to split,’ and it refers to numerous varieties of dried and split peas, lentils, and beans.
Dal is also the name of a spicy, fragrant Indian dish made from these beans with the addition of onions, tomatoes, and curry-like seasonings. The dish is typically eaten with rice or bread. An Indian dal should have a soup-like consistency, where the lentils are soft and nearly cooked down to a porridge.
Even if they don’t quite get there when you first serve your dal, the lentils will continue to break down, enhancing and thickening the dish that becomes leftovers. (If there is any left!)
By eating the dal with rice, you create a complete protein, giving you an incredibly nutritious, vegetarian meal.
Dal Makhani: A Rich Dal
There are many different types of Indian dal. Dal Makhani is traditionally a rich and creamy dal from the Punjab region of northern India and eastern Pakistan.
While, in general, dals tend to be lower in fat, this dish gets its richness from added butter and cream. In fact, the word makhani means ‘with butter.’
Our Lightened Up Dal Makhani Recipe
We’ve used plain yogurt in place of heavy cream to lighten up this dish and keep it as healthy as other Indian dals generally are. Using yogurt, you still get a nice creaminess to this Dal Makhani, but without the heaviness of the cream.
Fenugreek (kasoori methi) leaves are a common addition to Dal Makhani, however we substituted celery leaves for a similar flavor and texture.
Our Dal Makhani isn’t too spicy either. However, if you want to dial up the heat, go ahead and add a dash or two of cayenne pepper to the dish!
The resulting is a creamy, flavorful, and hearty Dal Makhani.
I ate mine with some homemade roti, while Tim opted to dish his dal over rice. We loved the unique flavors the celery and coriander added to the classic curry flavors of the cumin, turmeric, and garam masala that we are used to.
More lentil recipes
If you love lentils, you will love these other recipes using lentils from around the world.
- Armenian Mshosh (lentil salad)
- Egyptian Kushari (pasta dish)
- Brazilian Lentil Soup with Kale
- Greek Fakes Lentil Soup
- Indian Broccoli Dal (Broccoli with Lentils)
Dal Makhani (Creamy Kidney Bean and Lentil Stew)
To Prep the Beans
- ¾ c dry black lentils or French green lentils, soaked overnight
- ¼ c dry kidney beans, soaked overnight
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
To Prep the Beans
- Place the kidney beans and lentils in a large saucepan with 3 cups of water and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the beans until tender, 50-60 minutes. Once the beans are tender, drain them and reserve the boiling liquid, we'll be using that later.
For the Dal
- Heat the butter in a large skillet with a lid. Add garlic and ginger and sauté over medium heat until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes and sauté, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the cumin, turmeric, coriander, and garam masala. Mix well.
- Add the bean boiling water to the tomato paste mixture in the skillet, stirring until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the cooked beans and celery leaves. Mix well. Cover your skillet and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the dal for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pan. If the dal gets too dry, add water, a half cup at a time. The mixture is done when the lentils are very tender and the dal has thickened slightly.
- Remove the dal from the heat and stir in the yogurt.
- Serve with roti and/or rice.