Rich. Spicy. Exquisite. A mouthwatering and aromatic Indian dish, Daal Makhani is a thick, hearty lentil curry, made with brown lentils and red kidney beans in a creamy coconut and tomato sauce and seasoned with traditional Indian spices. This meatless meal is a guaranteed winner! High protein, vegan and gluten free.

daal makhani in a silver bowl on a round tray on top of a maroon velvet cloth with maroon flowers and roti in the background

When we’re at an Indian restaurant (which seldom happens), this lentil curry, daal makhani, is one dish I excitedly hunt for on the menu. I’m in love with its authentic rich taste, and makes me feel like a proper Punjabi when I eat it.

Feasting on this took me back to the time when I’d had the best daal makhani EVER. It was at Niagara Falls when we were vacationing in July. To say it was incredible would be an understatement.

Since then, I’ve wanted to create my version. After testing it out heaps of times with the family, I’m so excited to share it with you all.

What is Daal Makhani Made with?

Daal Makhani is a brown lentil curry with red kidney beans. Traditionally, it’s made with butter and cream, which is what makes it super rich and comforting.

To make this lentil curry less heavy and something we can enjoy more often, I swapped the dairy cream for coconut cream and omitted the butter. It’s still just as rich and intensely flavored with the most delicious and aromatic Indian spices.

The Key Spices for Making Lentil Curry

  • Cumin seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • Green and black cardamom
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric powder
  • Curry powder

What is curry powder?

When we talk about curry powder, we’re actually talking about a blend of spices from East Indian cuisine. Depending on the brand, the blend can vary but usually consists of turmeric, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chillies, black pepper, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, mustard seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, peppercorns and bay leaves.

What a line-up – I know. As it turns out, such a powerful concoction has shown to offer some health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antioxidant properties.

How to make Daal Makhani – Step by Step

step by step preparation shots of how to make daal makhani (Indian lentil curry)
  1. Make sure to rinse the lentils several times in water (Image 1)
  2. Start the cooking process by tempering the whole spices in coconut oil to release their flavour (Image 2).
  3. You want to fry the onion with the garlic and ginger until golden (Image 3)
  4. Next, add the powdered spices and stir for a minute on low heat (Image 4)
  5. Now begin to create the sauce by adding coconut cream and tomato sauce, along with the salt and water (Image 5)
  6. Bring to boil before adding the lentils and kidney beans (Images 6-7)
  7. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes until  the lentils are fully cooked, and you end up with a thick creamy consistency (Image 8)

Top Tips For Making Daal Makhani

  • Don’t skip on the whole spices. Each type adds its unique flavour, which gives this recipe the typical daal makhani taste.
  • Keep the heat on low/medium and keep a close eye to not burn the whole spices – otherwise, your curry will have a bitter taste.
  • If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you could certainly tone it down. Leave out the green chilli and keep it on the side.
  • Use mild curry powder to reduce the heat in your curry (if you prefer), which is what I use so the kids can enjoy it. I must admit, the coconut cream with the sweet tomato sauce does a fine job in balancing out the spices and heat.
  • Use full-fat coconut cream, which gives the lentil curry a perfectly smooth and luscious consistency.
  • The more your daal simmers on low heat – the more creamy and luscious it will be. Stir several times in between to ensure it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
daal makhani in a silver bowl on a round tray on top of a maroon velvet cloth with maroon flowers and roti in the background

More Delicious Curries You Might Like:

Tell me, what’s your best memory of curry? Have you tried my daal makhani recipe before? Leave me a comment and share your all-time fave curry?

If you try this recipe, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment, rate it, or share a photo and hashtag with #desiliciousrd on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!  Can’t wait to see your photos.

Desi~liciously Yours, Shahzadi
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daal makhani in a silver bowl on a round tray on top of a maroon velvet cloth with maroon flowers and roti in the background
4.75 stars (4 reviews)

Get the Recipe:

Daal Makhani | Coconut Lentil Curry

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Yield: 8 people
Rich. Spicy. Exquisite. A mouthwatering and aromatic Indian dish, Daal Makhani is a thick, hearty lentil curry, made with brown lentils and red kidney beans in a creamy coconut and tomato sauce and seasoned with traditional Indian spices. This meatless meal is a guaranteed winner! High protein, vegan and gluten free.

Ingredients
 

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, whole
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, whole, crushed
  • 2 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves, black
  • 6 green cardamom, grind seeds
  • 1 black cardamom, grind seeds
  • 2 bay leaves, large
  • 2 onion, medium, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 inch ginger, fresh, grated
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, couli-style (thick)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder, madras
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 cup coconut cream, thick
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups brown lentils, uncooked, rinsed several times in water. You could use cooked if you prefer
  • 2 cup kidney beans, cooked
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, fresh, finely chopped

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot, melt the coconut oil and fry the cumin seeds, crushed coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, black and green cardamoms and bay leaves. Be careful not to burn the spices. The whole spices should be golden brown – fried on low/medium heat.
  • Fry the onion, garlic, ginger until the onions are golden.
  • Add the curry powder and turmeric and stir for 1 min on low heat.
  • Add tomato sauce, coconut cream, salt and water and stir to mix well. Bring to boil.
  • Stir in the lentils and kidney beans and cook over medium heat for 30-40 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a thick creamy texture and the lentils are cooked through. You want to achieve a thick creamy consistency.
  • Finish with green chilli (optional) and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Notes

  • Don’t skip on the whole spices. Each type adds it’s unique flavor, which gives this recipe the typical daal makhani taste.
  • Keep the heat on low/medium and keep a close eye to not burn the whole spices – otherwise your curry will have a bitter taste.
  • If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you could certainly tone it down. Leave out the green chilli and keep it on the side
  • Use mild curry powder to reduce the heat in your curry (if you prefer), which is what I use so the kids can enjoy it. I must admit, the coconut cream with the sweet tomato sauce does a fine job in balancing out the spices and heat.
  • Use full-fat coconut cream which gives the lentil curry a perfect smooth and luscious consistency.
  • The more your daal simmers on low heat – the more creamy and luscious it will be. Stir several times in between to ensure it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 394kcal (20%)Carbohydrates: 50g (17%)Protein: 19g (38%)Fat: 15g (23%)Saturated Fat: 12g (60%)Sodium: 795mg (33%)Potassium: 946mg (27%)Fiber: 21g (84%)Sugar: 4g (4%)Vitamin A: 235IU (5%)Vitamin C: 10.3mg (12%)Calcium: 84mg (8%)Iron: 7.2mg (40%)

Keep in mind that the nutritional values provided are approximations and suggestions. This nutrition facts table cannot account for your individual needs. Your body — including your hunger and satiety cues — change daily. It’s perfectly fine to eat more or less on different days. Instead of letting food guilt take over, consider mindful eating.

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Cuisine: Desi, ethnic, Indian, South Asian
Course: Main
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