Vegan Dal Makhani (Creamy Black Lentil Dal)

by | Oct 25, 2017 | 41 comments

Vegan Dal Makhani (Black Lentil Dal) - Cook Republic #vegan #vegetarian

A Traditional North Indian Dal Made With Special Black Lentils

A simple dal is a staple at virtually every meal in an Indian household. The most common everyday dals are  masoor dal (red lentils), mung dal (small yellow lentils/split and dehusked mung bean), toor dal (split pigeon peas) or chana dal (split yellow peas). But there is a special kind of dal hailing from Punjab in northern India which has the title of the king of dals. It is called Dal Makhani, is made with black whole urad dal and is truly a celebratory dal. From gracing the menu of every single restaurant specializing in North Indian cuisine to roadside eateries called dhabas, dal makhani is a smoky, creamy concoction of lentils slow cooked till they melt in your mouth, clever spices and loads of butter. After all, it has to live up to its name makhani, which in the world of Indian cuisine means made in a rich sauce of butter, onion, tomato and cream.

Vegan Dal Makhani (Black Lentil Dal) - Cook Republic #vegan #vegetarian

Converting a traditional dal makhani recipe to a vegan version.

It is a rich dal, this dal makhani. Which is why most people in India seldom cook it at home. It is predominantly served at weddings and a must have indulgence when dining at restaurants. We love dal makhani at home and because we love it so much, I have created a lighter version of this beautiful dal which is vegan and doesn’t have copious amounts of butter, ghee and cream to overload your system. In fact, a blind taste test would find you hard-pressed to differentiate between the traditional dairy laden version and this lighter one. It is that good! And oh so creamy.

Dal Makhani is traditionally made with black urad dal (also known as black matpe bean, black gram or mungo bean). Think of it as a black mung bean, it looks like one. Contrary to the green mung bean, the black urad dal is tough and needs a longer cooking time. Soaking is a must for this dal to achieve optimum creaminess. But the most amazing quality of this black urad dal is that it holds its shape even after six hours in the slow cooker. With a humble list of ingredients you will find very easily in your supermarket or regular grocery store, this dal is incredibly delicious in its simplicity. I cook it overnight in a slow cooker, it cannot get easier than that. But I have also cooked it on the hob and in the oven. It is extremely versatile (I have shared both methods below). Traditional dal makhani would have a smoky flavour from being cooked on coals, I have imparted the same flavour using smoked paprika.

Vegan Dal Makhani (Black Lentil Dal) - Cook Republic #vegan #vegetarian

 

The immense health benefits of black urad dal or black lentils.

Black urad or black gram as is commonly known in India has incredible health benefits. Black urad dal is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, making it a great liver stimulant and wonderful for digestion. It is extremely rich in magnesium and potassium, thereby promoting heart health and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. It is rich in iron, boosting energy levels and great for skin and hair health. And cooked and simmered slowly in this creamy, vegan North Indian daal, it is not only super delicious but great for your overall health as well.

So the next time you have a dinner party, make this effortless dal makhani and wow your guests. Your home will smell like a fancy Indian restaurant. And you will have an amazing vegetarian, vegan and gluten free option that everyone will love. Have you made this at home? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments/rating below! Enjoy. xx

Vegan Dal Makhani (Black Lentil Dal) - Cook Republic #vegan #vegetarian Vegan Dal Makhani (Black Lentil Dal) - Cook Republic #vegan #vegetarian

 

 

Vegan Dal Makhani

VEGAN DAL MAKHANI (BLACK LENTIL DAL)

5 from 14 votes
Print Recipe Rate / Comment
Course // Dinner
Cuisine // Gluten Free, Indian, Vegan
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours

Ingredients

  • for the dal
  • 300 g black urad dal
  • 4 cups 1 litre water for soaking
  • for the tempering
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or coconut oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika or red chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 400 g can diced tomatoes
  • 270 ml can coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • to finish
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or coconut oil
  • 1 small red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 inch ginger piece, julienned
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons whipped coconut cream

Instructions

  • Wash, rinse and soak the urad dal in the soaking water for 2 hours.
  • Place soaked dal along with the soaking water in the bowl of a slow cooker and cook on high for half an hour.

Prepare the tempering

  • Heat olive oil in a large shallow frying pan. Sauté onion, ginger, garlic, bay leaves and cinnamon on medium for a couple of minutes until onion is caramelised. Add turmeric, coriander, cumin, garam masala, chilli and paprika. Sauté for a couple of minutes until spices are toasted and aromatic.
  • Add the tempering to the dal in the slow cooker. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and salt. Mix well. Cover and slow cook on low for 6 hours. The consistency of the finished dal should be that of a loose porridge. If it is drier than that, add half a cup of water to loosen the dal in the last stages of cooking.

To finish the dal

  • Heat oil in a small frying pan. Sauté the chilli and ginger strips for a minute. Remove from heat and pour over the dal. Garnish with coriander and swirl through the coconut cream. Serve hot with rotis or steamed rice and lemon wedges on the side.

Notes

COOKTOP METHOD - Place the soaked dal along with soaking water in a large deep Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook on medium-high for an hour. Add the tempering, tomatoes, coconut milk and salt. Mix well. Cover and cook on medium for half an hour. Reduce heat to low and simmer (covered) for 3-4 hours until dal is tender but still has a bite. The consistency should be that of a loose porridge. If it is too dry, add half a cup of water and cook until warmed through. Finish as per above.
Luxury Version - For a rich decadent version, replace olive oil with butter and whipped coconut cream (to finish) with fresh cream.
Batch Cooking - I often double the recipe, slow cook and cool it completely before packing it away in freezer-safe containers. Stays well in the freezer for up to two months and thaws beautifully in the fridge or microwave when ready to use.
Did you make my recipe?I'd love to hear how you went! Tag me on Instagram @cookrepublic

RELATED RECIPES

SNEH

I love creating easy, vibrant, fresh, everyday recipes and taking gorgeous photos of the food I cook. I have been blogging for 15 years and I have also written a book with over 100 new recipes. If you make a recipe from the blog, Tag @cookrepublic on Instagram. I would love to see!

COMMENTS

41 Comments
  1. Sarah N

    This recipe looks amazing and it’s on our meal plan for the week. My husband bought black lentils from Whole Foods (they are small and look similar to the ones pictured). Will they work/are they the same thing as black urad dal? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sneh

      Sarah, are they flat discs? Like this or oval beans like the ones in this post? If they are flat discs, they are black lentils (black Beluga lentils) and you would need less cooking time and less water (2.5 – 3 cups water with a cooking time of 3 hours on low in the slow cooker or 1-1.5 hours on medium-low on the cooktop). Hope that helps. x

      Reply
      • Sarah N

        Thanks so much- they ended up being Beluga lentils and I looked up another recipe on how to slow cook them (no soaking, cooked for 6 hours on low), and followed everything else in your recipe– it was DELICIOUS! My husband ate the lentils 2x/day because he loved them so much. Great recipe!

        Reply
  2. Jane

    5 stars
    This dish was so delicious – thank you. I think I may have used the wrong lentils also however adjusted the cooking time and bang – a winner. Finished it off with a dollop of cream and some grated lemon rind. Thank you so much I will definitely be doing this again.

    Reply
  3. Alex

    We’re doing vegan January and I looked up this recipe expecting to find it couldn’t be done – I was a initially sceptical about the coconut milk as I hate the taste of coconut, but the end result is indistingushable from the original! I changed the recipe a bit, towards my usual recipe (i.e. lazy) -no precooking of anything, just add all the ingredients and simmer for 6 hours (I’d do 3 if I remembered to soak the dal).

    Nom nom.

    Reply
  4. Esther

    5 stars
    This recipe is delicious. I love the stories and information behind your recipes too. It made a big difference adding the coconut cream and ginger/chilli at the end. So yummy. I had roasted cauliflower and pumpkin with mine. I can’t wait to try more recipes of yours. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to try some of your new ones out! What next…,hmm

    Reply
    • Sneh

      Oh so glad you tried this one Esther and loved it, it is a favourite of ours. So shockingly easy and delicious in the slow cooker. I bet it tasted divine with that cauliflower and pumpkin 🙂 x

      Reply
  5. Katerina

    5 stars
    Made for dinner tonight and it was super tasty! Only tweaks were some lemon juice and tomato paste as it lacked some acidity (I think the tomato acidity cooked off because of the time).

    Reply
    • Sneh

      So glad you loved it and modified it to suit your taste. The traditional recipe is a creamy, luscious, mild affair and the acidity is supposed to be cooked off to bring out those creamy but velvet notes (a trademark of “dum” or North Indian Style curries). Your version does sound lovely and I am mentally noting the addition of lemon juice when I cook it next time. Thanks!

      Reply
  6. Robin Gill

    Made a batch for the dinner tomorrow night and freezer but how many portions (adult) is this recipe for? I’ve got 5 individual foil takeaway type dishes but if I condensed to 4 it seems like alot (and I need to use bigger dishes!)

    Reply
    • Sneh

      Robin, this will easily serve 8-10 if having just this with rice, more if you have sides. It freezes well. I usually get two dinners (for 4) and then a 500ml-700ml frozen portion for later. x

      Reply
  7. Erika

    Hello! I’ve been looking for an easy dal makhani recipe and this looks like a winner. Quick questions: I assume this is for a giant slow-cooker? How would you scale it down for a small slow-cooker? If I just halve everything do you think it would still work? How about the cooking time? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sneh

      Hi Erika, I made this in my 5.5-6L slow cooker which would be average sized I am assuming. I definitely don’t have a super-sized one. And even in that slow cooker, this recipe just fills about half of the cooker. So in case you have a smaller sized cooker, this recipe should work just fine. Cheers! x

      Reply
  8. Rach

    5 stars
    Delicious with no modifications, thank you!

    Reply
  9. RoseH

    I’m trying to find the perfect black dal recipe to recreate one that I had in India. If I wanted to make it non-vegan would I be able to replace the coconut milk with cows milk, and the coconut cream with heavy cream? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sneh

      Yes, you could definitely try it that way. I think it would work. This vegan version also tastes like the real deal. You can’t tell that it has coconut milk x

      Reply
  10. Dana

    5 stars
    This is finger-licking good! This is my first time cooking dal, and it’s simply amazing.
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe, Sneh!

    Reply
    • Sneh

      Amazing! So glad you loved it x

      Reply
  11. Chantelle

    Do you have the nutritional breakdown for this recipe? Thanks

    Reply
  12. Jessica Radi

    cookrepublic Dal Makhani (Creamy Black Lentil Dal) made today in the slow cooker. Love abit of Sunday batch cooking!

    Reply
  13. Simran

    Can the canned tomatoes be replaced with fresh diced tomatoes?

    Reply
    • Sneh

      yes they can. I would use 2-3 big ripe tomatoes so there is lots of juice/pulp action going.

      Reply
  14. Yasmin

    5 stars
    This was simply amazing, one of the best dishes I have ever made. I found it needed less than 3 hours simmering on the cooker top at the lowest possible heat, even though I used black gram. If slow cooking in the oven, what would the timing and temperature be I wonder?

    Reply
  15. Jean Stobbs

    Just put my beans to soak. This recipe looks delicious! I would normally use coconut milk but ran out and don’t want to go out for it. Do you think I can use evaporated milk instead?

    Reply
    • Sneh

      yes absolutely. That would work too. Even a combo of milk and cream works. Cheers!

      Reply
  16. Joanna crabtree

    Can I use split black Matpe beans without husks?

    Reply
    • Sneh

      You could use them but the texture and colour will be very different. The dal will definitely be stickier and more viscous. If you are using the split beans, add whole french lentils as well (I would say half and half) to get that texture going. x

      Reply
  17. Jimmy

    5 stars
    This is a fantastic recipe, I loved it as did my whole family.Thank you and keep them coming, you are an inspiration.

    Reply
    • Sneh

      Thank you for your lovely feedback!

      Reply
  18. Beryl

    5 stars
    I loved this recipe, it has become one of our household favourites!
    Thank you

    Reply
  19. Kelly

    Thanks so much for the great recipes, beautiful photos, and informative descriptions. We can’t wait to try some of your other recipes.

    Reply
  20. Kelly

    This was so wonderful and hit the spot for my family. Just so satisfying and yummy!

    Reply
  21. Karens

    5 stars
    I simply cooked the beans in the instant pot with the sauteed onions and spices instead of boiling them ahead of time. It’s absolutely delicious.

    Reply
  22. Rachel

    5 stars
    Absolutely love this recipe. Simple to make and delicious!

    Reply
  23. Phillip D

    5 stars
    Excellent and so easy. I had Whole Foods black lentils, so glad I saw the comment regarding the difference in cooking times.

    Personal taste I thought it needed a bit of black pepper. I actually used ground grains of paradise, which I often use in place of pepper. Also added some corn starch at the end to thicken to consistency I remember from restaurants, because the wonderful smell made me too impatient to reduce by simmering.

    Reply
  24. Amy Perciballi

    I was so excited to make this and it smells amazing but my black dal are not getting soft and it’s been 6 hours in the slow cooker. I’ve followed the recipe directions and even ordered the proper daal from amazon – not black lentils! Any suggestions on getting it to go toward the ‘porridge’ consistency you mention? It’s staying very soup-like right now……..

    Reply
    • Sneh

      Hi Amy! If the beans haven’t gotten soft and still watery, they need more heat to cook and absorb the water. Different slow cookers (brands and sizes) can render different cooking times. Just make sure you have covered it and try cooking on high for 2 hours or so. I promise it will get soft and porridge-like once it hits the sweet spot. Alternatively, you could continue cooking it on low for a longer duration. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  25. Catherine

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious, would highly recommend trying this 🙂

    Reply
  26. Hans U

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Thank you!
    My wife is allergic to coconut, so we substituted coconut milk with yoghurt (we’re not vegan) and ground almonds. Not having a slow-cooker, we used tea light candles under the cast iron pot.

    Reply
  27. Rebecca N

    5 stars
    Yum! Soaked my dhal in the morning and cooked it stove top in the late afternoon. Added a little extra lemon juice for additional acidity before serving, just the way I like it and it’s a winner! Delicious and nutritious.

    Reply
  28. Tash

    I’ve just cooked mine!! Incredibley delicious and divine!!!! This recipe is a keeper. I used coconut oil instead of olive and added a touch of corn flour to thicken the sauce up. Delish X

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 18 Types of Beans - Crate and Basket - […] Vegan Dal Makhani […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating