Dal Makhani Recipe

Makhani is the Punjabi word for buttery, and this dish is essentially buttery lentils! I discovered this rich, creamy comfort food during my solo travels in India. It is ideal for cooler weather or anytime you need some self-nurturing. This is grounding for vata. Pitta can eat on occasion, kapha should eat sparingly and do a long jog afterwards!

I used black cardamom seed and black cumin seed to get give it a subtle, smoky flavor. I substituted cashew milk for cream because milk and lentils do not combine well for digestive purposes, according to Ayurveda. The key to getting the dal really creamy is to simmer for hours. I was on my way out, so I transferred everything to a crockpot for the simmering; when I got home I had delicious creamy dal makhani!

½ cup split black lentils
¼ cup red kidney beans
3 cups water for cooking
1 black cardamom seed
1 small bay leaf

3 tablespoons ghee
¼ teaspoon black cumin seeds
Pinch hing/asafetida
¾ teaspoon ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, pressed
½ teaspoon Himalayan salt
2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, grated
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
Pinch cayenne powder
1½ teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon garam masala

1-2 cups water to thin out dal while simmering
2 tablespoon cashew milk
Cilantro (garnish)
Ginger, julienne slices (garnish)

Rinse the dal and kidney beans then soak overnight; strain. In a medium pan, add the lentils, beans, cardamom, bay leaf and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until beans are soft (about 25 minutes). Remove from heat and transfer everything to slow cooker. Cover and turn to high setting.

Tempering: In a medium sauté pan, add the ghee and warm over medium heat. Add the cumin and when it pops, add the hing, ginger, garlic and salt; sauté until fragrant. Add tomatoes, chili, turmeric and cayenne; sauté for 1 minute. Add the coriander powder and garam masala. Sauté for 1 minute. Transfer into the slow cooker with the lentils and water mixture. Add some extra water to ensure the slow cooker is at least halfway filled with liquid. (I used a 1.5 quart slow cooker and added 1 cup of water). Reduce heat to low and simmer for 4 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary.

Stir in cashew cream. Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with cilantro and ginger.

Conceivably, you could make this recipe start to finish in a slow cooker, but I haven’t tested that. If anyone does, please let me know how it comes out! Steps 1 and 2 would become, rinse the dal and beans; transfer to slow cooker with cardamom, bay leaf and water. Set on high for 1 hour, then reduce to low and simmer for 7 hours. Then continue with steps 3-7.

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