Dal Makhani (lentils and butter)

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“If this is what vegetarianism meant in most of the places that practice it in the West, I’d be at least half as much less of a **** about the subject,” — Anthony Bourdain

This recipe uses asafoetida (or Hing powder).  Straight from the jar, some describe its smell as fetid.  Though the aroma is difficult to describe, “fetid” seems more than a bit harsh.  To me, it smells vaguely familiar, warm, and a few steps removed from some type of onion variant.  Regardless, it all changes when added to oil where it adds a great deal of savory flavor.  We use ingredients such as soy sauce, porcini, kombu, or anchovies to accomplish the same thing in other styles of cooking.  Hing is also purported to lend a full mouthfeel and is used in many vegetarian dishes.  It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite spices.

Dal Makhani (lentils and butter)

Dal Makhani (lentils and butter)


  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1/4 cup red kidney beans
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 4 Tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 Tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, grated
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chile powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • cream and chopped cilantro for garnish


  1. Place beans and water in a pressure cooker. Cook on high pressure, using a natural release for 20 minutes. Alternately, soak beans overnight, and simmer in 4-5 cups of water until tender. When beans are cooked through, mash lightly. If the mixture is too thick, add water until desired consistency is met. It should be neither watery nor pasty -- a medium consistency.
  2. Using a 12 inch skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add cumin and coriander seeds. Toast for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in onion and cook for 4 minutes, until they begin to brown.
  4. Stir in ginger and garlic. Cover and sautee for 2 minutes
  5. Mix chile powder, cumin powder, turmeric, garam masala, and asafoetida with 2 Tablespoons of water. Add to skillet, stir, and cover. Simmer for 2 minutes.
  6. Add tomato puree, cover and simmer for 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in beans and bring to a boil. Serve with basmati rice. Garnish with cream and cilantro

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