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Dal NO Makhani: Same burst of taste without the extra calories

This recipe offers up a Dal that is very rich and tasty without the added butter or cream.

Dal NO Makhani: Same burst of taste without the extra calories

Dal Makhani has to be the most loved vegetarian lentil recipe! Why Dal "NO" Makhani- that’s because don't we want the same taste without the extra calories! Makhani literally means buttery so the use of makhan or butter, heavy cream, and ghee in the traditional recipe is how it got its name but cashew cream in this recipe makes it plenty rich and just as much delicious! 


Yes, Dal NO Makhani is still very rich and creamy and you’ll not miss the added butter and cream! So, may I recommend skipping the restaurant and making it at home instead without the extra calories?! So give it a try!


Ingredients for Dal NO Makhani (serves 8)

  • 1 cup whole black urad dal
  • ¼ cup red kidney beans
  • 40 gms cashews
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 small green cardamoms
  • 1-2 large black cardamom
  • 3 inch piece cinnamon stick
  • ⅓ cup of olive oil (divided)
  • 1 cup karahi masala- see ingredients right below-
  • 1 cup sliced onions 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger and garlic,
  • 2 medium size tomatoes chopped


Final tempering of Dal NO Makhani-

  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 whole dried red chilies (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 star anise 
  • Few pinches of grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon kasoori methi divided (fenugreek leaves), 
  • cilantro leaves and cashew cream for garnish




1. Start with rinsing the dal under running water (sweet water) till the water is almost clear. 


2. Soak both the dal and kidney beans overnight in 6 cups of water. Discard the water in the morning and rinse it well once again.


3. Soak cashews in water overnight.


4. Pressure cook lentils and red kidney beans with salt, turmeric, bay leaves, green and black cardamoms, and a cinnamon stick in 6 cups of water. The goal is to infuse the flavors of whole spices while the lentils soften. The length of the cooking process depends on whether you use an instant pot, pressure cooker or a slow cooker with slow cooker being the longest cooking time but well worth it !(24 hours). Pressure cooking on low to medium heat takes 30 minutes. The longer it cooks the better it tastes. 


5. Process cashews and water to make a fine paste/cream.


6. To make the karahi masala- Heat half the quantity of olive oil required for the recipe, fry sliced onions with ginger and garlic in a deep pan. When they turn a beautiful golden brown, remove from heat. Next, blend with chopped tomatoes to a fine paste. 


 7. On medium high heat in a deep non-stick pot (with a lid) add the remaining olive oil. As soon as the oil is hot, add cumin seeds and whole red chillies Sizzle for only a few seconds and add the prepared karahi masala, when it turns just a slight shade darker, add the red chili powder, coriander powder, star anise, half a teaspoon of kasoori methi and grated nutmeg. Fry for a few seconds again to prevent the spices from burning, add the lentils and let them simmer on low for 20- 30 -40 minutes or till you are satisfied with the consistency. Use a manual masher/tool to make the consistency as creamy as you cook. And frequently stir the creamy lentils to avoid sticking at the bottom of the pan.


8. Add garam masala powder and three quarters of the cashew cream and let it simmer very gently for the final 5 minutes. Check the salt.


9. Garnish with the remaining crushed kasoori methi, cilantro leaves, swirl with the remaining cashew cream. Serve with naan, paratha, simple flatbread or rice. Enjoy! 

Tips and Tricks
1. Wash by rubbing the dal really well between your hands till the water is very clear.
2. Soaking for 8-10 hours works well before the pressure cooking.
3. Adjusting the creaminess of the lentils is more an art than a science so go with your intuition towards the end. If the dal is too thick, adjust it by adding hot water.
4. You may want to remove the whole spices after the lentils have been pressure cooked and before the final tempering.
5. Cook on low heat and keep stirring it often to prevent sticking at the bottom. Mashing the lentils as it simmers also adds more creaminess to the texture.
6. You may want to add a pinch of sugar to the Dal. It enhances the flavors, just a pinch!

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