Dahl makhani is usually a tomato based curry that is heavy on the butter and cream. I love it but that amount of butter and cream can leave e feeling a little ick. It could also be all the onion. So I came up with this onion free, lighter version that’s still creamy in texture and full of fragrant flavour.
The plus of me not using onion in this recipe (other than a little green spring onion as I’m fine with that) is that it leaves some room for me to sneak in a variety of vegetables. Rather than just onion, we’ve now got carrots and celery. Sautéing these provides the depth of flavour you usually get from onion. It’s also full of digestion boosting ginger making it easier on your tummy than a regular Dahl Makhani.
I use dried beans and lentils and soak them over night, this is because urad dal is actually a bean so needs this. You could easily use a different lentil that doesn’t need soaking to make it quicker, but I wouldn’t use split as they may cook too fast and turn to mush. I like a little more texture in my dahl.
I have tried a few recipes out over the years and techniques wise I think I have borrowed most heavily from this one. I love how creamy it gets from mashing the lentils slightly. The chickpeas you see in the photos are a side dish I’m playing around with at the moment, once perfected I’ll put the recipe up!
3/4 cup urad dal lentils
1/4 cup red kidney beans
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
4 cups water
1.5 Tbs oil or ghee
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 stick celery
1/3 cup finely sliced green spring onion (optional)
1 tsp chilli powder
4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp ginger, freshly grated
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes (or fresh if in season)
1 tsp garam masala
pinch fenugreek (optional)
1/2 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
1/3 cup diced cucumber
1 Tbs finely chopped mint
2/3 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
2 cups cooked rice to serve
The night or morning before: place the beans and lentils in the pot you plan to cook them in, cover with the water. Put the lid on and leave to soak for at least 8 hours.
When ready to cook, add 1 tsp of ginger, a generous pinch of salt and 1 tsp of chilli powder to the lentils, beans and their soaking water. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Cook until the beans and lentils are tender enough that you can squash them between your fingers. This usually takes me 35-45 minutes.
Put your carrot and celery in a food processor and process until very finely choped, you can do this by hand.
Once the lentils are cooked put a heavy based fry pan on medium heat and add the oil. Once hot add the cumin seeds and fry until fragrant, add the carrot, celery, remaining chilli powder and spring onion and stir until hoft and just starting to colour. Add the ginger and garlic and stir to combine then add the tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
Add the beans and lentils, reserving the cooking liquid, and use a wooden spoon to mash them into your tomato mixture, they should get a little creamy looking, after a couple of minutes. You are not trying to mash them completely ny any means, you want texture. Now add the reserved liquid and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the garam masala (and fenugreek if using) and yoghurt to the lentils, stirring slowly to combine. Taste and add salt. Cook for a further 5 minutes on a very low heat.
Raita: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir.
Serve with brown rice, the raita on the side and even some flatbread.