Make Ahead

Cardamom-Scented Shortcut Dal Makhani

February  3, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Dal makhani usually requires some prior planning - you need to soak dried lentils overnight - but this version uses quick-cooking French lentils and pre-cooked red kidney beans. The spice blend is mellow yet deep, and the cardamom, which is noticeable but not overwhelming, provides a refreshing flavor. —raspberryeggplant

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1" piece of ginger
  • 1-2 small green or red chilis
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 cup cooked red kidney beans (use either canned or pre-cooked dried beans)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 pods green cardamom
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup dried French black or green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Add the canola oil to a wide saucepan (I used a 4 quart) set over medium-high heat. Peel and finely chop the onion. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until they are softened and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. If the onions start to brown too quickly, lower the heat.
  2. In the meantime, peel and finely chop the garlic and ginger, then seed and chop the chilis. (Or you can do what I did – peel the garlic and ginger, then throw those, along with the chili, into a mini chopper.) Finely chop the tomato and set aside. Lightly mash the kidney beans and set aside.
  3. Add the garlic-ginger-chili mixture and the cumin seeds to the saucepan after the onions have softened and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the tomato and cook for 1 minute. Add the mashed kidney beans, bay leaf, cardamom pod, cinnamon, tomato paste, chili powder, salt, and lentils to the pan along with 4 cups of water.
  4. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, crack the lid, and simmer until the kidney beans have fallen apart and the French lentils are very tender, about 40 minutes. Check on the lentils every now and then minutes and add more water if necessary. The final mixture should be slightly thick but not dry; it should have a thick gravy.
  5. While the lentils are cooking, mix together the yogurt and milk in a small bowl and set aside. Finely chop the cilantro and set aside.
  6. When the lentils are done, turn off the heat and stir in the butter, yogurt mixture, and cilantro. If it’s too thick, thin it out with a little bit of water. Serve warm with rice or chapati.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • raspberryeggplant

4 Reviews

AntoniaJames February 7, 2011
Made this over the weekend and we really liked it! I added one black cardamom pod to provide a hint of smoky flavor, instead of the chilis and chili powder (which I cannot eat). Excellent! Thanks for posting this. ;o)
raspberryeggplant February 7, 2011
So glad to hear that! I also thought black cardamom would be a great addition but I was out of it so I did without. Will have to try that next time!
AntoniaJames February 3, 2011
Love it! I cannot wait to try this. Do you think "red beans" (a smaller red bean) would work? I have some, already cooked, in my freezer. Great recipe. Thanks for posting it!! ;o)
raspberryeggplant February 3, 2011
I'm sure those would work just fine - if you give it a try, let me know how it turns out!