‘Lighter’ for a few reasons: for starters this dhal makhani contains no cream, and only a quarter the amount of butter that’d typically go into it. Traditionally, the dhal is cooked separately with water and added to a base of onions, tomatoes, and spices. Simmered over a low heat, it’s then finished with (copious amounts of) butter and cream to get that desired creaminess.

So how does one achieve that same texture without these critical dairy additions? Step one: I use equal quantities of milk and water to cook the dhal instead of using only water. This ensures that the dhal stays creamy from the get go.

The second step comes in the form of cashews. Blending tomatoes with a small handful of cashews gives the base thickness and also contributes to aforementioned creaminess. Weeknight dhal makhani? I got you.


Servings: 4 people


  • 1 cup black urad dhal
  • ¼ cup red kidney beans
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons cashews
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 3 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chilli powder
  • 3 teaspoons kasuri methi
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 10 grams butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt, to taste


  • 20 grams butter
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped


  • Wash and rinse the urad dhal and kidney beans until the water runs clear. Add to a bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight (or for at least 6 hours).
  • Use a blender to make the ginger-garlic paste. Set aside. Blend the tomatoes and cashews together into a smooth purée. Set aside.
  • Rinse the beans again and add to a pressure cooker. Pour in 1 ¼ cups of milk and 1 cup of fresh water. Pressure cook until the beans are tender.
  • Test by pressing a bean with your fingers - they should yield. Cook for longer and with a little more water if necessary. Once cooked, coarsely mash with a potato masher. Set aside.
  • Melt 10 grams of butter in a medium pot. Add bay leaves. Sauté the onions until nicely browned. Add the ginger-garlic paste and stir it around for 1 minute. Add chilli powder and coriander powder and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Tip in the tomato-cashew purée and salt. Cook until it reduces and darkens, about 8 mins.
  • Add the cooked dhal and beans to the pot along with all the cooking liquid. Stir everything together and check for seasoning. Cover and cook for 30 mins over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Add more milk to loosen if necessary.
  • Stir in the garam masala and kasuri methi just before you take the pot off the heat. Transfer the dhal to your serving dish and then make the tadka.
  • Tadka: melt 20 grams of butter in a small pan. Add cumin seeds and garlic. Cook until the garlic is lightly browned.
  • Pour the tadka over the dhal. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating