Dal makhani

Preparation time                                           Cooking time                                    Serves
30 mins to 1 hour                                       10 to 30 mins                                   Serves 4

This is one of my favourite curries – it’s deceptively substantial for a vegetarian dish, and delicious hot or cold. I often make it by throwing all of the ingredients into the slow cooker at the start of the day, so I come home to a delicious creamy dinner.


  • 400g tin brown lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 400g tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 very large onion, finely chopped, or 200g/7oz frozen diced onion
  • 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste, or 1 tbsp garlic paste and 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp medium curry powder
  • pinch of chilli or cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 75g/2½oz butter
  • 400g tin full-fat coconut milk
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • salt and black pepper

To serve

  • basmati rice
  • fresh coriander (optional)


  1. Put the onion, garlic and ginger paste, curry powder, cayenne or chilli (if using) with half the butter in a frying pan over a low-medium heat. Cook until the onions soften.
  2. Pour in the coconut milk and tomatoes and season with a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the beans, lentils and remaining butter. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to cool completely; the flavours will continue to cook and develop as it cools.
  4. To serve, heat through thoroughly and serve with rice. If you like, scatter over some fresh coriander.

Recipe Tips

I sometimes add frozen spinach or kale for an extra bit of goodness; it’s virtually undetectable if you’re trying to feed fussy palates.

The kidney beans can be swapped for black beans, borlotti beans or aduki beans, and the brown lentils for green ones or gungo peas, depending on what you have in the cupboard.

If you’re short on coconut milk, use semi-skimmed or full-fat milk with a tablespoon of sugar and an extra tablespoon of oil instead.

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