Dal Makhani a.k.a. Black Lentils in Tomato Cream Sauce

Dal Makhani/Black Lentils in Tomato Cream Sauce

A couple of weeks ago I was on an Indian food kick.  I made naan from scratch.  I perfected a tandoori marinade.  But I had no idea how to make one of my favorite Indian dishes — dal makhani.  Dal, or lentils, are now going to be a staple for me since entering the gluten free world, so I figured I’d pick up some black lentils and try my hand at making this dish.

I found a few good recipes on-line as a guideline on how to cook the lentils properly and the ingredients needed to make this dish fantastic.

It is quite simple, but the depth of flavor is really achieve when you cook these beauties for over an hour — everything gets reduced and intensified.  However, I added a little kick of apple cider vinegar at the end to give it some much needed acid and balance.

These lentils are good on their own, but pair wonderfully with my tandoori chicken.  My husband ate some this morning with a corn tortilla and a fried egg on top.  Kind of a Indian fusion huevos rancheros of sorts.

The best part is, just one cup of lentils makes a ton — we had them for dinner, breakfast and lunch and we still have plenty in the fridge to snack on or eat for another meal.

Lentils are high in fiber and protein, so they are a wonderful choice for those who are vegetarian or vegan.  Despite all the benefits, I never was a huge fan of lentils until I tried them prepared this way.  They are usually too earthy for me in flavor, but this recipe’s rich tomato-cream base with wonderful garlic and ginger strikes a chord with me and I feel like I am eating something fit for a queen.  Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration…but I feel like I am eating something healthy that also tastes great (these things don’t always go hand-in-hand for me)!

What you need to give Dal Makhani a try:

1 Cup black lentils (you can use any kind, but I love the black lentils and they are traditional for this dish)

1 Cup (8 oz) crushed tomatoes

1 Cup water

1-2 minced garlic cloves

1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

4 Tbs butter

1 tsp garam masala

1/3 Cup half-n-half or heavy cream

1/2 tsp salt

salt and pepper to taste

sriracha for heat as needed to taste

1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar


In a 2 qt sauce pan, add lentils and cover with enough water by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium and cover, cooking lentils for 10-20 minutes, or until they begin to soften and just open up.

black lentils/Dal Makhani recipe

Drain water and begin smashing some of the lentils with the back of a spoon.  This gives the dish more texture and creaminess.

Add your tomatoes, salt, garam masala, ginger, garlic, butter and water and bring back to a boil, stirring the butter in until it melts.

Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for at least an hour, checking on the moisture level and stirring occasionally.  The moisture should reduce quite a bit, but if they are looking too dry, add more water.

Once the lentils are cooked for an hour, they should be nice and soft.  Add the cream and apple cider vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with sriracha for those who like it spicy (my husband!).  These go well with a nice flatbread or tortillas even.  So good and good for you!





2 thoughts on “Dal Makhani a.k.a. Black Lentils in Tomato Cream Sauce

    • Thanks, Lori! I always used to get this dish at restaurants, but never knew how easy it was to make at home. Hope you can give it a try sometime!

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