Monday, March 19, 2012

Makhani Dal (Lentils & Kidney Beans)

My sister recently gave me an Indian cookbook--Dances with Spices. Me likey a lot.

When Kevin and I lived in NYC, there was an Indian restaurant a few blocks away that was a substantial cut above and beyond all the other casual Indian restaurants I have ever been to.  It was called Earthen Oven, which sadly no longer exists.  I guess when we moved they lost a substantial portion of their takeout business.

One of the dishes that we loved was Dal Durga, a creamed black lentil dish.  While I was flipping through Dances with Spices, I came across a recipe for Makhani Dal, which was creamed lentils and kidney beans, and sounded pretty similar to our favorite Earthen Oven dish, so I gave it a whirl. And I'm so happy I did.

Adapted from Dances with Spices


1 cup dried kidney beans (you have to soak the beans the night before making the recipe--if you don't want to do that, you could substitute three 15-oz cans of kidney beans)
1 cup brown or green lentils
2 TBS ghee (you can make your own from one of the many recipes on the internet, but I bought mine from a store what you think I have time for making it myself?)
1 small onion, minced
1 TBS minced fresh ginger
1 TBS minced garlic
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs and stem removed, minced
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 tsp salt, or to taste (I think I added about a 1/2 tsp more)
1 cup half and half, or whole milk if you must
2 TBS minced cilantro

Served 4 to 6 as main course

Place the kidney beans (not the lentils) in a bowl and cover with water by at least 2 inches.  Let soak 8 hours or overnight.  I put mine in the refrigerator because I wasn't going to get to them until 24 hours afterwards.

Anyway, when you're ready to cook, drain the kidney beans and rinse them along with the lentils.  Place legumes in a saucepan and add about 5 cups of water.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, until beans are tender but not mushy, about 45 minutes.  Then drain dem bad boys.

Now for the aromatics.

Heat the ghee in a large saucepan or pot over medium high heat.  Add the onion, ginger, garlic and serrano and cook until onion turns light brown, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the coriander, cumin, and black pepper.  Stir for about 30 seconds and add the tomato paste.  Continue to stir for about 5 minutes.

Add the legumes, salt and milk.

Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir in cilantro.

Serve with basmati rice.  Ta-da!

Have you tried to recreate a favorite restaurant dish? How did it go?


  1. I'm going to have to try this. I love making Indian food at home. I'm actually making Channa Masala tonight. :)

  2. One of my roommates when I first came to grad school LOVED cooking with ghee -- I think she used some in everything she made. This looks delicious!

  3. This looks and sounds so good but sadly, I'm not a fan of beans. However, I've never tried your legumes. Perhaps you could sway my opinion? ;)

  4. you are going to need some seriously big matches after that meal.

  5. That looks so tasty. And you are an excellent food photographer, because it is really hard to make mashed beans look tasty, hehe.

  6. Yum, this sounds really good, like all of your recipes! And yes, I've often tried to recreate restaurant dishes, although only a few have come close to as good as the restaurant version.

  7. YUM! This looks so good! Love your recipes!

  8. This look really good, especially with some basmati rice. YUM!

  9. Yummy!! I hate when a restaurant I love goes out of business. One time I was in Dallas and went to get takeout from a place I loved only to find out it no longer existed. So sad!! But your meal looks awesome. I'm glad you are able to recreate it.

  10. This is one of my favortite Indian dishes. Yum. Another recipe I have to try.