The Washington Post

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani 4.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Weeknight Vegetarian Nov 22, 2020

This is one of Indian cuisine’s creamiest and most luxurious dals, making it a favorite far and wide. It gets its lush texture not only from butter and cream, but also from the gelatinous quality created by whole urad beans, a.k.a. black gram or black matpe beans. Flavor comes from warming garam masala, plus a dash of cayenne, as well as a hefty dose of garlic and ginger. Serve with plain rice or flatbread (such as paratha or naan), and yogurt or raita on the side to provide cool contrast, if you like.

Where to Buy: Whole urad beans can be found at Indian or international grocery stores or online, such as at foodsofnations.com.


Servings:
4 - 6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4-6 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) whole urad beans with skin
  • 4 cups water, plus more for soaking
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 medium (10 ounces) white onion, cut into chunks
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • One (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half
  • 4 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter, divided (may substitute extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream or crème fraîche (may substitute nondairy yogurt)
  • 2 tablespoons loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Pick through the beans and discard any dirt or stones, then transfer to a medium bowl and rinse under running water. Add enough clean water to cover the beans by 1 inch and soak overnight (8 to 12 hours). Drain.

In a medium saucepan or Dutch oven over high heat, combine the beans with the 4 cups water and baking soda. Bring to a rolling boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook the beans until they are tender and almost falling apart, 30 to 45 minutes. Transfer the beans with their liquid to a large bowl. Rinse the saucepan and wipe it dry.

Combine the onion and garlic in a blender. Chop half the ginger, add it to the blender and pulse until it forms a smooth paste. (If needed, add a bit of the liquid from the dal to the blender to help things move around.)

Return the saucepan or Dutch oven to medium-high heat, and melt 2 tablespoons of the ghee. Add the garam masala and turmeric and cook, stirring, until the spices release their aroma, 30 to 45 seconds,. Add the tomato paste and cook until darkened, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has cooked away and the ghee has started pooling in spots, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the cooked beans and their liquid and stir in the salt and cayenne. Taste, and add more salt if needed.

Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook at a boil for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the beans from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and remove from the heat.

Cut the remaining ginger into matchsticks. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons ghee. Add the remaining ginger and fry until the ginger starts to turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Pour the fried ginger and ghee over the dal. Garnish with the cilantro, if using, and serve hot.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “The Flavor Equation” by Nik Sharma (Chronicle Books, 2020).

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 6): 221


% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 12g 18%

Saturated Fat: 7g 35%

Cholesterol: 27mg 9%

Sodium: 488mg 20%

Total Carbohydrates: 23g 8%

Dietary Fiber: 8g 32%

Sugar: 4g

Protein: 7g


*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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