All across India and in Indian restaurants around the world this popular dish is easy to find — in dozens of different colors, styles, textures, and tastes. My favorite is a Punjabi variety, from the region of Northwest India bordering on and including what is now Pakistan, the origin of many Sindhi and Sikh communities, including those I lived among in Amravati (Maharashtra) in 2010-11. Ten years earlier, in Amritsar I had some really good stuff. I remember delicious ones in Rajasthan, too. Heck, my favorite Pakistani place down the street here in Berlin makes it excellent, too. This is what I’ve come up with in my own kitchens after years of tinkering and trials with lots of different recipes and suggestions.
Dal Makhani as a vegan dish is actually somewhat ironic in that makhani means “with butter” (or creamy). I make this all the time without any soy cream and it’s perfectly tasty. Some vegan versions of this use coconut milk or cream, which is another possibility. You can also replace the oil with 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite buttery margarine.
Vegan Dal Makhani
serves 4 / time 80+ min
- 1 cup black beans dried
- 1/4 cup kidney beans dried
- 1 1/2 cups tomatoes pureéd or chopped (about 2 large tomatoes)
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 tsp ginger very finely chopped
- 2 tsp coriander ground
- 1 tsp cumin ground
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1-2 Tbsn oil
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup soy milk or soy cream OPTIONAL
- 1 Tbsn lemon juice (approx 1/4 lemon)
- coriander leaves or dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) for garnish
- Rinse all beans well, drain, replace water and soak overnight.
- Drain beans and put in large pot or pressure cooker with 3 1/2 cups fresh water.
- Cook beans on low for about 50 min covered, until soft.
- In a small sauce pan heat oil on medium and fry garlic, ginger, spices for 2-3 min until the garlic starts to brown. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.
- Pour fried spices from small pan and tomato puree into the large pot with beans. Mix well and simmer uncovered on medium for 15 min, stirring occasionally.
- Mix in salt and soy cream (if desired). Continue to cook on medium low, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 min. When consistency is right, it’s done!
- Garnish with dried fenugreek leaves or chopped coriander leaves and serve with basmati rice or chapati.
For a spicy kick, add 1 or 2 finely chopped small green or red chilis or 1/2 tsp red chili flakes to spices. Garlic may be replaced or complemented with 1/4 tsp asafoetida / hing powder. Recipe can be also be made with canned beans and tomato: 1 can black beans, 1 can kidney beans, 1 can diced or pureed tomatoes. Drain all canned beans and use 3 cups fresh water instead of 4 for cooking.