Quick Dal Makhani

Do you know what dal makhani is? In India, a rich, savory stew cooked with lentils is served on important occasions (especially in the Punjab region in northern India). I’d like to go there one day and experience it for myself. Maybe if I’m lucky next year.

I’ll eat this dal makhani at home for the time being. Traditionally, making dal makhani involves soaking the lentils for a while, followed by hours of stovetop cooking (or more quickly in a pressure cooker). It’s frequently saved for unique events like birthdays and holidays.

I used normal black lentils instead of the traditional entire black lentils (urad dal), which cook considerably more quickly. Because I used canned kidney beans for dried ones, this recipe just needs to cook for 45 minutes.

In contrast to how most dal makhani is traditionally made, I used a tip I learned from making my favorite lentil soup: I blended up around two cups of the cooked stew and then added it back to the pot. That makes the starchy lentils lovely and creamy.

If you’d like, you can add cream (or coconut milk) at the very end, but it will slightly mute the flavor. It’s likely that this meal will come with a lovely cream swirl on top if you order it at a restaurant.

Also read: Classic Minestrone Soup

The spices in this recipe are more subdued because the dish is rich. Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, and coriander are the main ingredients in the hearty spice blend known as garam masala. Traditionally, dry-toasting whole spices is the first step in Indian cooking, but I cheated and used a ground spice blend.

I don’t feel like I’m losing out because the blend from Frontier Co-op tastes and smells so good. I feel very lucky to have a spice cabinet full of Frontier goods because great spices truly do make a difference.

The meal is energized by cumin and ground coriander (produced from cilantro plant seeds), and a final spritz of lime does wonders. This stew is everything you’re craving: creamy, curried, and filling!




  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and membranes removed, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Frontier Co-op garam masala*
  • ½ teaspoon Frontier Co-op ground cumin 
  • ½ teaspoon Frontier Co-op ground coriander 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes (preferably the fire-roasted variety), with their juices
  • 1 cup uncooked black lentils (also called beluga lentils)**, picked over for debris
  • 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked kidney beans
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, plus additional lime wedges for serving
  • Optional (for additional creaminess): half-and-half, or regular or light coconut milk
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Suggested accompaniments: cooked brown basmati rice or toasted naan


  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeño, and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Stir in the garam masala, cumin, coriander and salt. Season generously with black pepper. Cook, while stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 more minute, while stirring. Add the lentils, kidney beans, water and bay leaf. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are nice and tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leaf. Transfer 2 cups of the mixture (make sure to get some liquid with the lentils) to a blender. Securely fasten the lid. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute, being careful to avoid the hot steam rising from the blender lid.
  5. Transfer the blended mixture back to the pot and stir to combine. Add the lime juice and season to taste with salt (I usually add ½ teaspoon) and pepper. If you would like to temper the flavor and make the mixture even more creamy, stir in a splash of half-and-half or coconut milk, to taste.
  6. Serve in bowls, with chopped cilantro and a lime wedge on top. If desired, serve rice or naan on the side. Leftovers keep well, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.