This is an everyday version of the popular dal Makhni. It is delicious, creamy and brimming with fresh flavors. But the best part is that it takes about 10 minutes of hands-on time – and that makes it perfect for everyday cooking!
This dish is made with whole urad dal or black gram lentils. As the name suggests these lentils have black skin, which creates the dish’s dark colors. Serve with rice (my favorite) or any flatbread and you have dinner covered!
Rice and beans
Rice and beans offer a complete balanced meal. Generally, the bean recipes are wholly or mostly plant-based and loved by vegetarians and carnivores in the family. Lentils are a good source of protein and minerals while being very budget friendly. No wonder there are so many versions of this combination worldwide.
I love this black dal with basmati rice flavored with cumin (Jeera rice), but roti or naans are good too. Jeera rice and black dal is an easy fresh meal to prepare on a weeknight.
Urad dal or black gram is high in protein providing about 25g of protein in about 100g of lentils. This makes it a great choice for vegetarians and vegans. These are also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B12 & 6, iron, copper and calcium. Recipes with Urad dal are a great thing to have in repertoire if you are leaning towards plant-based eating.
As for me, I love it because it is delicious!
There are versions of black lentils recipe – and the purists will tell you the difference between Kaali Dal (black dal) and Dal Makni. But this recipe does not lay claim to either of these names. This is an everyday recipe, where you can dump all the ingredients into the instant pot/ pressure cooker, and set to cook. You want to layer the flavors, it is going to take another 5 minutes. Win-win you say?
To the recipe and ingredients
Black lentils – this is the star. You can make this dish with just the black lentils or urad dal. Incidentally, it is the same lentils that I use to make Dosa and Medu Vada. The difference is that in those 2 recipes I use the skinned version.
Kidney Beans – A handful of these are added to the dish. This helps to add more body to the curry. You can leave it out if you like.
Ginger & Garlic – If there is one thing that I absolutely hate to cook with, it is the jarred ginger garlic paste. I love fresh ginger and garlic. With my handheld grater ( a zester or fine grater like Microplane) it takes about 10 additional seconds to grate fresh ginger or garlic into the dish. A little goes a long way when the flavors are fresh.
Spices – The absolute must spice for me here is cumin, preferably whole. The other spices – garam masala, chili powder and turmeric – are optional. Not a big deal if you don’t like these or don’t have these in the pantry.
Tomatoes – I like to use fresh tomatoes in this recipe. When chopped small these dissolve into the dish. Out here I get fresh tomatoes throughout the year. If you do not have fresh use jarred version.
There are a variety of garnishes that can go on top of the black daal – sliced ginger, chopped onions, a sprig of cilantro few tablespoons of cream or butter for nonvegans or even a splash of coconut cream.
Note: Like chickpeas and kidney beans black lentils need to be soaked in plenty of water overnight.
- 1 C Black lentils with skin on Urad dal or black gram
- 1 Onion Medium chopped
- 2 Tomatoes
- 2 -3 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Inch Fresh ginger root
- ½ Tsp Cumin seeds
- 1/4 Tsp Turmeric powder Optional
- ½ Tsp Cayenne Pepper Notes
- ¼ Tsp Garam masala
- 2 Tbsp Oil
- 3 – 4 C Water
- 1 Tsp Salt To taste
- Chopped coriander
- Chopped onions
- Cream Coconut / cashew/ Dairy
- Wash and soak the black gram lentils and kidney beans in plenty of water for 8 hours (overnight). Drain and set aside.
- Cut the tomatoes crosswise and remove the seeds. Dice the tomatoes and set aside. Finely chop the onions. Grate the ginger and garlic.
- Press the saute button in the pressure cooker/ Instant Pot. Add the oil. Wait for a minute for the oil to heat up. Add the cumin seeds. Give it 30 seconds and add the onions, Fry for a few minutes stirring in between until the onions soften and begin to brown.
- Add grated ginger, garlic the spice powders and salt. Mix well and add the chopped tomatoes. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the tomatoes soften. Add the drained lentils and 3 C water.
- Place the lid on, close the pressure vent, set the pressure on high and cook for 30 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally (Note). If the dish is too thick for, add the remaining 1 C water as needed and bring back to boil. Taste and adjust salt.
- Heat the pressure cooker and follow the directions for instant pot till adding the lentils. Add 31/2 C of water and close the lid. When the cooker reaches full pressure lower the heat to minimum and let it cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
- Once it is safe to open the cooker, add more water or salt as needed.
- Transfer to the serving bowls/plates and top with chopped onions, cilantro or a dash of coconut cream (note).
- Use a pinch of turmeric powder if you like. Often times as in the video I do not add any.
- Use cayenne pepper or medium-hot red chili powder if you like it. If you prefer a spicier dish add chopped green chilies (cayenne, birds eye, etc.) along with the tomatoes.
- If needed the pressure can be released after 15 minutes.
If trying to make the dish without a pressure cooker, follow the recipe until adding lentils and water. Increase the quantity of water by about 1 C. Bring everything to boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered for at least 60 minutes. Check in between to make sure that there are enough liquids in the dish. Add more water as needed.