Makhani Dal (Butter Dal), Mogul-Style


This was not the most seasonal dish to make in 90 degree heat! BUT- I LOVE dals– so healthy and flavorful, and I have been wanting to try this recipe. This popular Indian dal is rich and super creamy because it has whole milk plain yogurt incorporated in the dal and used again as a topping. This is the third dal that I have made from a New York Times Article written by Mark Bittman called “New York Dals”; I previously made Chilkewali Mung Dal (Split Green Mung Beans), Mumbai-Style and Chana Dal (Split Chickpeas), New Delhi-Style. We ate this with brown Basmati rice and sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Cumin. It was a “four-burner” meal- dal, tadka, rice, and spinach- but worth it. This was my husband’s favorite dal (so far…). I also doubled the recipe, anything that cooks for 3 1/2 hours needs to be doubled! GREAT!

TOTAL TIME: About 3 1/2 hours, largely unattended
  • 3/4 cup whole black gram beans (sabat urad)
  • 2 tablespoons adzuki beans or pink beans (choti rajma) or red kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons split chickpeas (chana dal)
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt, whisked
  • 2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped tomatoes (canned is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground-red-chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower or safflower oil, or other neutral oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
Combine the legumes with 4 cups water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil; cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover the pot; let the legumes soak for 2 hours.
Add the whole-milk yogurt, 1 cup onions, tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, paprika, chili and salt to the pot and bring to a boil once more. Cook, partly covered, over low heat for 90 minutes, or until the dal is very soft. Turn off the heat and use an Indian mathani (or balloon whisk) to purée the dal for about 1 minute; it should be saucy but not soupy.
To make the tadka, heat the oil in a small saucepan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the remaining cup of onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until medium brown. Turn off the heat and stir in the cumin and garam masala.IMG_3643
Transfer the dal to a large bowl and cover with the low-fat yogurt (we used whole-milk!); top with tadka, stir gently and serve.
YIELD: About 4-6 servings

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