Our Dal Makhani is a quick, easy and vegan version of the traditional Indian dish as well known as Urad Dal but keeping the richness and creaminess of the recipe untouched.
Dal Makhani is a north-Indian dish made with pulses (traditionally black lentils), a rich tomato base, a spice blend, and heavy cream.
When it comes to Indian food, Astra and I are quite the opposite. I would always choose a North-Indian dish and Astra a South-Indian dish. We found in Panaji a Thali restaurant serving both Thalis, from north and south. That was the perfect place to please both of us!
So Dal Makhani was one of my favorite choices when going to Indian restaurants but it's quite challenging to find a vegan version of it when eating out. Urad Dal or Dal Makhani is made with butter and heavy cream. So the best thing to do if you want to enjoy a delicious vegan version of the meal is to cook it yourself, using plant-based ingredients.
It is absolutely possible to veganize the creamiest dishes that Indian cuisine has to offer such as our Vegan Cauliflower Korma or Tikka Masala. All you need are the right spices, fresh ingredients, and the best ingredient to make a vegan cream: cashews.
OUR DAL MAKHANI IS
- Spicy (you can adjust the level of spiciness)
- Easy to prepare
- Quick to make
HOW TO VEGANIZE YOUR DAL MAKHANI
Two ingredients need to be substituted from the traditional recipe in order to make your Dal Makhani vegan.
- Butter. We use vegetable oil instead of butter. You can use sunflower oil, coconut oil, avocado oil or rapeseed oil. Another option, used in most vegan recipes for this dish is using vegan butter. We prefer not to buy vegan butter at home as it tends to contain a high amount of saturated fats.
- Cream. To substitute the heavy cream used in Dal Makhani we make a thick cashew cream. What do you need? Simple, presoaked cashews and water. We find cashew cream to give the perfect texture and taste to the dish. Other options would be coconut cream or oat cream.
DAHL MAKHANI LENTILS
How is our recipe quick and easy? Traditionally, Dal Makhani or Urad Dal is made with black lentils or urad dal lentils. What we discovered is that you can use brown lentils and it will still be delicious. Even if brown lentils are no traditionally used for dals, we have a toddler, and both have full-time jobs so I would say we are allowed to do things like this if it's still super tasty!
You can buy brown lentils in your local supermarket, dried or precooked. If you are using dried lentils, you will have to cook them in boiling water for around 20-25 minutes, depending on their size. These type of lentils have a creamy texture when cooked properly and work really well for our Dal Makhani.
If you want to use black lentils, we recommend leaving them soaking overnight. Then cook them in boiling water for 10 minutes and leave the pulses simmering for 90 minutes or until they are really soft.
You can add to this recipe kidney beans too. Cook the beans the same way as the black lentils if dried, or use pre-cooked ones.
- Prepare your pulses. For this recipe you can choose to use precooked brown lentils or dried. If you are using dried lentils, cook them in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water the lentils and they will be ready for your dal.
- Prepare the spice blend. This is definitely my favourite part when cooking Indian food. The spice blend. Our toddler Luca is always in charge of adding the spices into a pinch bowl and mixing them. He loves learning all the names and flavours. For this recipe, we use cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, cumin, garam masala, red chili powder, nutmeg, mustard seeds, coriander, and black pepper. If you are cooking for a kid or toddler, leave the chili powder out. If you are getting overwhelmed just reading all these different spices, maybe you can get an already made spice blend.
- Prepare your tomato pure. At home and especially during summertime, we use tomatoes from our garden. We simply add them into a food processor and blend until we have a perfect consistency. You can use fresh or canned tomatoes, finely chopped or blended.
- Get your cashew cream ready. Soak the cashews overnight in room temperature water or leave them soaking in hot boiling water for at least 20 minutes. Drain and rinse them with cold water. Using a blender jug, transfer the cashews and add water (enough to cover them). Blend until you have a smooth consistency. Adjust with water if you prefer a thinner cream.
- Cooking time. Using a pot (preferably a cast-iron pot) add vegetable oil. When hot, add a finely chopped onion and cook until it starts to soften. Add the spice blend and keep cooking until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add garlic and ginger paste, cook for 2 more minutes and then add the tomato puree or chopped tomatoes.
- Leave simmering for about 20 minutes, adding water if it gets too thick. Add the lentils and stock, keep cooking for 20 more minutes.
- Adjust with salt and transfer into serving bowls. Add the cashew cream on the top and your Dal Makhani will be ready to enjoy.
When cooking a rich Indian meal, we normally prepare a green salad to go on the side and make the perfect balanced meal. When we made this recipe, we tried a Hot Bean Salad from Meera Sodha and it was absolutely delicious. We have been making it a lot at home and we can never get enough of it!
You can find this in her book East.
Together with a green and fresh salad, we serve our Dals with basmati rice and if we have some extra time or extra hunger, we make papadums or Red Lentil Wraps.
Tips for the best presentation:
- Caramelize some onions while cooking the rest of the meal by simply adding sliced onion in a hot pan and cooking them for 20-30 minutes at medium-low heat until crispy. Add the caramelized onions on the top of your Dal Makhani right before serving.
- Chop some fresh cilantro and add on the top for color contrast and flavor boost.
Leftovers? You can freeze the dal or keep it in the fridge using an air-tight container for 4-5 days.
HOW TO COOK THE PERFECT BASMATI RICE
Basmati rice is the right option when you are looking for the right type of rice to serve with your curries.
Cooking rice and getting it to be light and fluffy can be really tricky if you are not using the right pan, lid, or water ratio. To cook basmati rice, the ratio we use is 1:2 rice to water after rinsing the rice with cold water.
Place the water and rice in a medium-size saucepan. You don't need to use a large pot if you are not making rice for many people. Choose a high temperature and bring the water to boil with the saucepan uncovered. When the water starts to boil, reduce the temperature to the lowest and cover the pan with a lid that fits perfectly so the steam doesn't escape.
When most of the water is gone turn the heat off and leave the pan covered to rest for another 8-10 minutes.
Using a spatula or a fork, move the rice so any extra steam will go out and your rice will be ready to be served with your favorite curries.
Vegan Dal Makhani
- 1 cup brown lentils pre-cooked or dried
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 white onion
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 cloves
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 big garlic cloves
- 1- inch piece ginger
- 6 medium tomatoes pureed or chopped or 400 g canned tomatoes
- 1 ½ cup stock
- ½ cup soaked cashews
- Soak the cashews overnight or leave them soaking in hot boiling water for at least 20 minutes.
- If you are using dried lentils, cook them in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water the lentils and they will be ready for your dal.
- Using a pot (preferably a cast-iron pot) add the vegetable oil. When hot, add the onion finely chopped and cook until it starts to soften.
- Add the spice blend and keep cooking until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Finely chop or crush the garlic and ginger until it turns into a paste. Add into the pot and keep cooking for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the tomato pure, stir until everything is well mixed, and leave simmering for 20 minutes.
- Add the stock and the lentils and keep cooking for 15-20 more minutes, until you have a thick and creamy consistency. At this point you can take a bit of the dal and blend it. Transfer back into the pot and mix. This will give your dal a creamier consistency.
- To make the cashew cream, drain and rinse with cold water the presoaked cashews and transfer into a blender jug. Add water until the cashews are covered and blend until you have a thick but smooth cream.
- Serve the dal and top with cashew cream. Optionally you can add some freshly chopped cilantro and caramelized onions.
|If you tried our recipe, please leave a comment or tag us on Instagram @Sixhungryfeet. We are always happy to see your creations!|