Creamy Slow Cooked Dal Makhani

Published by Bee Gill on

Creamy Slow Cooked Black Lentils and Red Kidney Beans

This dish is divine, and made the old school way it stirs up so many memories. Simmered over a low heat for at least 2 plus hours – no pressure cooker (although feel free to use it if you wish) – garlic and ginger pulverised using a pestle and mortar – home made Garam Masala tailored to this dish especially (check out the separate video). When cooked in the Punjab it can be cooked for up to 8 hours to really slow cook it and get that creaminess from the lentils.

It’s really rustic, takes me back to the days when my husband and I would visit the Lahori Karahi restaurant in Southall, where the team would cook behind a glass screen in view of the diners – and they would serve up the creamiest version of this Dal in a Karahi (small wok) alongside the crispiest of buttery naan. My mouth still waters when I remember those times. My version of this dish is just as creamy and mouthwatering – I’m just not so liberal with the butter and the cream, however I am using ghee which adds to the creaminess. Although, please don’t stop on my account and add as much as you like! It’s a really hearty and warming dish. My family loves it! This dish can be created using vegan butter or oil as you will still get the creaminess from the lentils themselves.

Ingredients – cooking time 3 plus hours or 1 hour if you use the pressure cooker


2 cups of Urid Dal – black lentils and ½ cup of red kidney beans soaked overnight – wash in 5-6 changes of water or until the water runs clear

2 bay leaves

2 each black and green cardamoms

1 inch cinnamon stick

3 dried red chillies

1 tablespoon of ghee

1 teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 large onion finely diced

2 fresh curry leaves or 6 dried leaves

¼ teaspoon hing (asafoetida)

2-inch piece of ginger

5 garlic cloves

1 large tomato chopped finely

1 tablespoon of tomato puree

½ teaspoon of kashmiri chilli

1 teaspoon of salt

100g butter

Cream to finish

Handful chopped coriander leaves – optional

½ teaspoon garam masala


  1. Add the lentils and kidney beans to a large pan and pour on 2 litres of cold water, add the bay leaves, all the cardamoms, cinnamon stick and dried red chillies bring to the boil and scrape of any foamy residue the lentils may bring to the surface (keep doing this during the cooking process
  2. Lower the heat and cover and cook for as long as it takes to cook down the grains until they begin to get mushy, but not completely mushy – allow the grains to keep their shape (this can take anything from 5 to 8 hours on the lowest heat)
  3. Keep topping up the water in the pan using boiled water from the kettle if you feel it is starting to dry out
  4. Once cooked, drain the grains but DO NOT discard the water, keep it for later in the cooking process but DO remove the whole spices and throw them away
  5. In a separate heavy based pan start your Tadka – heat up the ghee and throw in the curry leaves, cumin seeds and hing – and give them a quick stir
  6. Add the onions and fry them until they become a lovely golden colour
  7. Crush or blend your garlic and ginger into a paste – it doesn’t need to be too pulverised as it will cook down into the Dal, add to the onions
  8. As soon as you can smell the garlic cooking you can add your chopped tomato and the tomato puree. Cook this mixture on a medium heat until it thickens, also adding the kashmiri chilli at this point
  9. Your Tadka is now ready so you can add your cooked lentils to the pan. Stir them in slowly, ensuring they completely soak up all the beautiful flavours in the pan, cook for a further 5 or 6 minutes
  10. Using the water you kept back – add a pint of it to the lentils (this water should be creamy). Cover the pan, turning the heat down low and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes, making sure you don’t allow all the water to evaporate, if you feel it’s starting to dry out, add a little boiled water
  11. Your Dal Makhani is almost ready. Add the butter and stir it in slowly, allowing it to melt into the Dal. You can also add half a teaspoon of the garam masala at this point.
  12. Drizzle with cream before serving – and enjoy with a crispy buttery naan or tandoori roti