Indian Lentil Dish – Delicious Dal Makhani Recipe

This recipe is for a simple, delicious Indian lentil dish called Dal Makhani. It’s creamy, buttery, subtly spiced and absolutely gorgeous.

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Indian food is my go-to for vegetarian cooking. It’s a wonderful way to take simple ingredients and pack them full of flavour. Meat is normally the central component of my meals. But dishes like this let me base the meal around the beautiful spices and the complex flavours they create.

Vegetarianism is a huge part of Indian culture. Historically, those of higher social standing were expected to eat more plant-based food. Culturally, a number of religious factors also come into play. India is a largely Hindu population. And while Hinduism does not strictly deny the consumption of beef, cows are often considered to be sacred animals and are therefore not commonly eaten. As well, there is a large Muslim population in India, which also prohibits the consumption of pork for many individuals

India is not as strictly vegetarian as we are sometimes led to believe. But their cuisine definitely relies less on animal products than most. This might well be why it lends itself so well to vegetarian dishes. And why it is still my favourite place to go for delicious vegetarian food.

About the dish

This simple Indian lentil dish is a big favourite, both in its home in India and here in England. There are lots of lentil dishes in Indian cuisine, but this might be the richest of them all!

Dal Makhani is a wonderful, decadent dish. Dal refers to the lentils themselves and Makhani to the butter that gives the dish its character. You might have already made the association with Murgh Makhani or butter chicken, another Indian-inspired dish very popular here in the UK.

The most important characteristics of a good Dal Makhani are the richness, creaminess and the overall sense of satisfaction that comes from a single, simple mouthful. It can be warming comfort food or elegant dinner party food. It is a very versatile dish and goes wonderfully with all kinds of other dishes. This is mostly due to the subtle spicing and satisfying saltiness.

Dal makhani with aloo gobi and homemade naan.

About this Indian Lentil Dish recipe

In this recipe we’re going to use a few simple spices to give the dish its depth. It is important not to go overboard here because subtlety is very important. The spices need to emphasise its buttery nature rather than taking away from it. I have even seen recipes that state there is no need for dry spices at all. Although I have included them here because I believe they go very well with the dish’s warming nature.

We are going to add a little yogurt to the dish as well, late in the cook. A little for garnish and a little for body. Make sure you don’t add the yogurt until you’re more or less ready to serve. Too much heat over a long period of time will cause the yogurt to curdle.

I have omitted tomato because I do not believe such a creamy dish requires that acidity. You can add it if you like.

Finally, do try to cook the dish for at least a few hours. It won’t be the end of the world if you can’t, but it gives those wonderful flavours time to develop. I like to cook it at least until the lentils disintegrate, providing a wonderful, thick sauce to carry those flavours to the tongue.

Another important factor in carrying this dish to your tongue is the sides with which it is served. For a few helpful options, check out the links below!

Similar Recipes & Useful Sides

The Best Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh Recipe – An unexpected favourite, a childhood favourite in its grown up form. Rich, deep and incredible.

Passanda Sauce Recipe – An Authentic Leftover Chicken Curry – The sexiest, creamiest, butteriest, chickeniest curry I’ve ever made and an absolute personal favourite.

Goan Lamb Curry – Another of Goa’s beautiful curries. This time a delicious vindaloo style lamb dish!

The Best Indian Flatbread Recipe – The best Indian flatbreads you’ve ever seen. Seriously.

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Indian Lentil Dish with aloo gobi and homemade naan.

Indian Lentil Dish – Dal Makhani Recipe

This recipe is for a simple, delicious Indian lentil dish called Dal Makhani. It's creamy, buttery, subtly spiced and absolutely gorgeous.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2 people (more if a side dish)


  • 1/2 cup Moong Dal yellow lentils – red would also work very well
  • 1/2 Can Chickpeas (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 Onion
  • Fresh Ginger
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • Yogurt
  • Butter
  • Ghee oil would be an acceptable alternative
  • Salt



  • FIrstly, if you're using dried chickpeas, soak them overnight.

Make your paste

  • Peel your garlic and ginger, then blend them together.

Ready your spices

  • Set aside 1/2 tsp mustard seeds.
  • Combine and set aside 1/2 tsp onion seeds and 1/2 tsp cumin seeds.
  • Combine and set aside 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp coriander powder.

Cook the dal

  • Finely dice your onion and add it to a pan with some ghee on low heat for 6-8 minutes. You want them caramelised and translucent. Season with a little salt.
  • Make a gap amongst the onion and make sure there's enough fat in the pan. Into that gap, add the mustard seeds first, then, 30 seconds or so later, the onion seeds and cumin seeds.
  • Allow a minute or so to cook through and then stir everything together. Add the turmeric and coriander.
  • Allow another minute to cook, then make another gap in the contents of the pan and add the ginger and garlic paste. Stir everything together.
  • After a final minute of cooking, add the lentils and (optionally) chickpeas. Stir everything together and submerge in hot water.
  • Once the sauce is simmering, allow it to cook for at least 30 minutes, but ideally several hours, allowing the lentils to break down and thicken the sauce, giving a creamy consistency. Keep an eye on the mix and top up the water if necessary.
  • Season with salt to taste, then add a good wedge of butter and stir in. You can optionally add a tablespoon or so of yogurt at this stage as well.

Plate up

  • Plate up and stir a dessertspoonful of yogurt across the top as a garnish.
  • Cut a small piece of butter and place in the middle, allowing it to melt out into the dal
Keyword Chana Dal, Chickpeas, Dal Makhani, Indian lentil Dish, Lentils, Moong Dal

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