British Dal Makhani

British Dal Makhani

by Jenny Chandler March 11, 2018 2 Comments

In this British twist on a high days and holidays dal from Northern India, enriched with butter and cream, Jenny Chandler substitutes British whole lentils and red haricot beans for the traditional black urad dal and red kidney beans. As Jenny says, "the result is just heaven", perfect as a stand alone main dish with a little rice or a flatbread alongside or great as a player in an indulgent spread.

Serves 6 as a side (4 as a main with rice or flat bread)


  • 100g Red Haricot Beans, soaked in plenty of cold water overnight (or about 8 hours)
  • 250g Whole Lentils, rinsed
  • ½ tsp ground Turmeric
  • 2 Chillies, chopped finely ( fresh or dried, green or red, hot or mild - that’s up to you)
  • 2 cloves Garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2½ cm knob Ginger, finely chopped.
  • 2 tbsp Ghee or Unsalted Butter
  • Pinch Asofoetida
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (best to toast and grind the seeds if possible)
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 200g Tinned Tomatoes, or fresh Tomatoes when in season
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Purée
  • Salt To season
To finish
  • 60g Unsalted Butter
  • 2 tbsp Double Cream
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 handful Coriander , roughly chopped.


  1. Drain the beans and then place them in a large saucepan with the lentils, turmeric, chillies, garlic and ginger. Cover with water by about 5 cm and bring up to the boil. Cover and bubble away for 10 minutes before lowering the heat to a gentle simmer.
  2. Check the pot from time to time, topping up with a little more water when necessary although the idea is to finish up with quite a thick dal (this will take about 45 minutes to an hour - you are waiting for the haricots to become creamy and soft by which time the lentils will be beginning to collapse).
  3. Once the beans are cooked you want to purée about a third of them. I find it easiest to do this with a stick blender, it’s traditionally done with the back of a ladle and plenty of elbow grease (a potato masher would do the trick too).
  4. Melt the ghee or butter in a frying pan and begin by frying the spices, once your enveloped in a cloud of wonderful smells throw in the onion too. Cook the onion over a low flame for about 10 minutes until wonderfully soft and then it’s time to add the garlic, stirring for a couple of minutes before tipping in the tomatoes and purée.
  5. Stir the spicy tomato mix into the dal along with a good pinch of salt.
  6. The icing on the cake
    The dal will taste pretty good right now and you could just serve it with a dollop of yoghurt if you like, just don’t call it Dal Makahni. If you’re going for full blown indulgence now’s the time to stir in the butter, the cream and a good teaspoon of garam masala.
  7. Taste, add more salt or chilli to balance. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve.

Jenny Chandler
Jenny Chandler


2 Responses

Stephen Brice
Stephen Brice

January 17, 2020

Really good recipe. Beans and lentils both pretty fresh and cooked quickly. Excellent texture and flavour. Will try other recipes.


May 03, 2018

Made this today – very easy and tasty. Thanks – I love making this with British grown beans and lentils. Well done Hodmedods,

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