A popular Indian recipe made from whole black lentils simmered in a rich tomato sauce with spices and butter – dal makhani is one of the most delicious lentil dishes you will ever eat!
dal makhani

Some might tell you that the point of half marathon running is for exercise, fitness, health, this super awesome adrenaline rush that hits you after you finish the race and makes you feel like a very sore million bucks.

And yes, those are all well and good, and excellent reasons to run half marathons.

But what it’s really all about is spending 13.1 miles thinking about what you are going to eat when you are done.

And then eating it.

There is very little in life that is more satisfying.


I generally spend most half marathons thinking about all the ways I can trash up breakfast so that it is really dessert, but this weekend’s 13.1 through Brooklyn was all about the dal.

Maybe my muscles were crying out for protein or perhaps my subconscious remembered that I am running another half marathon this coming weekend and needed the healing, anti-inflammatory effects of ginger and turmeric.

But dal it was, and dal I had to have.

Not even dal with ice cream on top.

Just dal. Plain and simple.


And by plain and simple, I obviously mean dal with all the spices and a hint of butter.

Because I did just run 13.1 miles, after all. And that deserves a little celebratory indulgence.


Dal, for those of you who don’t know, is essentially a lentil stew. It is a classic Indian dish usually made from split lentils, which tend to fall apart during cooking and turn into a big bowl of delicious mush.

This dal, however, is made with a combination of black lentils, which can hold their shape under pressure, and adzuki beans, which give a great textual contrast to the dish.

Most dals I’ve had from restaurants are fairly lackluster, but this one is so rich in flavor that you will be tempted to never order take-out again.

Not to mention the fact that I’m fairly sure it cured all of my post-race sore leg woes.

Running tradition in the making? You betcha. So long as I can occasionally get a bowl of ice cream on the side. Or on top. No judgment.

Dal Makhani (Black Lentils with Rich Tomato Sauce)
A popular Indian recipe made from whole black lentils simmered with spices and butter. These are probably the most delicious lentils you will ever eat!
Yield: 6-8 servings
  • 1 cup dried black lentils
  • 1 cup dried adzuki beans
  • water, to soak and cook beans
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 dried small hot red chili peppers
  • 1½ tbsp garam masala
  • ¾ tsp coriander
  • ¾ tsp cumin
  • ¾ tsp chili powder
  • ¾ tsp sweet paprika
  • ¼ tsp ground fenugreek
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 14 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup lowfat milk
  1. Soak the lentil and the adzuki beans in a large bowl of water overnight. Drain off the water the next day.
  2. In a large pot, combine the beans. Cover with water by 1 inch. Add a big pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat to a simmer, cooking for 1 hour or until tender. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Cook the onions over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until starting to caramelize, stirring frequently.
  4. Stir in the garlic and ginger, and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  5. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, chili peppers, garam masala, coriander, cumin, chili powder, paprika, fenugreek, black pepper, and salt to the pot. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
  6. Pour the tomatoes, vegetable broth, and tomato pasta into the pot, along with the cooked beans and lentils. Bring to a boil and then simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods from the pot.
  7. Stir in the butter and milk until combined. Serve warm, over rice or with naan.
Adapted from An Edible Mosaic
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 bowl

For more variations on dal, check out these:

Red Lentil Dal with Charred Onions

Chickpeas and Chana Dal Cooked Together in a Mint Sauce

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Dal from Cafe Johnsonia

Pumpkin Dal Soup from The Culinary Life

Indian Red Lentil Dip from Daring Gourmet


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73 Responses to Dal Makhani (Black Lentils with Rich Tomato Sauce)

  1. Chantal says:

    Hi Joanne!
    So Yummy! It is one of my favorite curry!

  2. Zainab says:

    This is one if my favorites to order. So glad you created a hearty one for us and you indulged after your half marathon. I’ll indulge after a not-so-accomplished day because it’s dal 🙂

  3. Emma says:

    I’m always planning recipes while I run. The problem is that immediately after running I just need food NOW so anything that takes more than 5 minutes is out of the question…
    I am crazy for anything with lentils and this looks divine!

  4. This looks wonderful, Joanne! i just love Indian food and flavors.

  5. Wow, this sounds like a mighty tasty dal! It also looks like perfect ‘freeze lots of portions for another day’ type food. Good luck with the marathon!

  6. I always think about food when I’m out for a run! 🙂
    Lentil stew sounds fabulous…I can see why you were daydreaming about this during your race!

  7. There is a restaurant in Sydney that makes the best dal makhani I have ever had – I’m pretty sure it has more than a touch of butter, and definitely quite a lot of cream in it! So much flavour!

  8. wow! a lot going on here in this dish and I love every single faucet of it! Perfect to freeze and use in portions. Love the use of black lentils

  9. Congrats on the run and this looks amazing and filling!

  10. Barbara says:

    Nothing I love more than lentils, Joanne. I made a lentil dish a while back that copied baked beans…one of my more reposted recipes. This has the same look about it, but with way better flavors. Really must try it….looks like a great picnic dish.

  11. Sues says:

    I can just imagine that the flavors in this are out of this world!! It’s one dish I wouldn’t mind taking for leftovers a few days in a row 🙂

  12. P says:

    Daal and ice cream on top…that certainly would be interesting! I run through all of my races thinking about what I should eat when I finish :p

  13. Baby June says:

    Wow, that looks awesome! I always love a good dal recipe, I’ll have to try this variation soon.

  14. Congrats on your race! Whenever I run (even if it’s only a few miles) you better believe I’m thinking about what I’m planning to eat the ENTIRE time. Excellent choice!

  15. I love dal and I love lentils. Your recipe looks awesome and juicy 🙂 Way to go on your 13 miles, I couldn’t run more than 3 miles so you go girl!!

  16. Yum! I almost always think about pancakes when I’m running long. I don’t always get them afterwards, but they’re always on my mind!

  17. This is one of the first dals I tried when I started eating Indian food and it is still one of my favorites!

  18. SallyBR says:

    Congrats on another half! I did a 40 minute run the other day, which is not something I should do very often because of my knee, but I must say I miss, miss, miss the long distance running. I love all the exercises I do, but there’s something about spending a long time running that you don’t get with any other type of activity. I confess to dreaming about doing a half, since the full is out of question now. But even that could be too much. Oh, well

    I might have to settle for a heavy P90X workout and then a bowl of this beautiful lentil concoction!

  19. This is such good comfort food! What a great end of race meal. Thinking about food is a fantastic running motivator!

  20. I am a legume kind of gal…can eat this kind of dish every day. This looks hearty and delicious, just the right one for post marathon.

  21. Erica says:

    Mmm, I love this variation, it looks amazing!

  22. Sounds amazing! Photos look so good too! We only started eating Indian dishes at friends dinner parties. Very different, but delicious! If you say its most delicious – we’ll take your word for it! Have a great week!

  23. Shannon says:

    we just had this for dinner last night! except it was made by some Indians… delicious, though, i’ll have to try my hand at making it myself 🙂

  24. I just LOVE all the spices of Indian food! YUMMMMM! Great hearty meal!

  25. That’s a very impressive spice list! Even more impressive is that you can run 13 miles!! I can’t even run down the block 😉 at least you spent the time wisely ;]

  26. Julia says:

    Other than the adrenaline rush, I totally view exercise as a means to eat more food! This dal looks so satisfying – definitely a perfect meal to nourish your body after a loooong run!

  27. This looks great! My husband is an avid marathon runner and definitely runs to eat. I have been unable to return to running since a broken ankle last summer (boo!) but I get to ride on his coat tails in the post-marathon indulgence! By black lentils do you mean beluga lentils or the bigger urad dahl that look kind of like adzuki beans but black?

  28. I love dal makhani – one of my favorite dishes!

  29. My neighbor makes a simple dal that is quite yummy, but this looks absolutely amazing!!!

  30. Pam says:

    Great job on the half-marathon & good luck on your next one.

    The dal looks comforting, flavorful, and delicious.

  31. Leah Davis says:

    I’ve been wanting to try an Indian dish and this sounds great! I give you massive amounts of credit for eating healthy after your half-marathon 🙂

  32. Girl you are a running machine! Way to go!!! And this dish looks so great. I have just recently gotten into Indian food, and I’m obsessed. I want to start cooking it, so I’ve been stocking up on the spices. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  33. sandra says:

    definitely the dish that cures all that ails ya. I am so wanting this right now.

  34. Kelster says:

    I spend long walks thinking about food too. In fact, most of my recipes are planned on 8 mile treks.

  35. Kate says:

    I feel like you’re totally forgetting the “beer” motivational aspect of running half marathons.

  36. cheri says:

    This is my kind of dish, Love this! Wow! good for you another half marathon.

  37. Abby says:

    Ohhh that looks so good! Can I just mention how fun it is to say adzuki? Good luck on your run!

  38. Deena kakaya says:

    Have it say, black lentils are my absolute favourite dhal. Dhal makhani is typically creamy so it’s interesting to see your light twist. I’ve never mixed black lentils and aduki beans but I do like the idea of it! X

  39. Love this hearty meal full of lentils and all of my favorite spices!

  40. Monica says:

    I love dal, too! I’ve never had it with adzuki beans, which sounds great. I always associate adzuki beans with dessert in Japanese and Chinese cooking. This looks just delicious!

  41. This looks delicious. I have never cooked Indian food before, but I think I should give this recipe a try.

  42. I’m always thinking about what I’m going to eat while running. It just makes sense!! Plus, Dal is the freaking best!

  43. Ha! I know I would be the same way if I ran half marathons. Heck, I’m pretty much dreaming of what I’m going to eat next even when I’m NOT running half marathons. This would be a great reward just for waking up in the morning. 🙂

  44. Johanna GGG says:

    congrats on the half marathon – that is a well deserved dal though if I ran a marathon mine would have some cream in it because the dal makhani recipe I know and love has cream in it and it is so rich and good though I think I have done it with yoghurt too.

  45. Tahnycooks says:

    I run so I can feel less guilty about what I eat!! Congrats!!
    I love that black lentils hold their shape, this looks so tasty and I bet it smells so good!

  46. Lol. This is so true. Honestly, the only reason I run every morning is so I can eat sugar and butter. The health benefits are just a bonus 😉

  47. Veronica says:

    mmm, only had it a couple times but really enjoyed it and with black lentils it sounds even better!

  48. Half marathons back to back? You need dal and ice cream Joanne! This looks like a gorgeous way to get in the first – and I am not sure I’ve ever had black lentils. I’m now keen to seek them out, and make this.

  49. Hahah, I hate running, but when I did used to do it I always thought about food during my runs 🙂 The whole point of exercising is so you can eat more, right??! This sounds and looks so delicious. Now if I can just remember to soak the lentils/beans ahead of time…and convince my husband to eat this.

  50. Kathleen says:

    Dal Makhani is my favorite Indian dish! I decided to cut to the chase and order the beans and lentils from Amazon, since they’re hard to find around here. I’m anticipating a delicious Indian meal sometime this week. Now all I have to do is figure out how to make vegetable samosas!

  51. Eileen says:

    Dal is my FAVORITE. For real. We usually make the Manjula’s Kitchen version–you should try it the next time you want dal! (The “green pepper” in the ingredient list should actually be jalapeno or serrano, as you can see if you watch the video.) That said, I am always up for trying out a new version, and yours sounds fabulous! SO GOOD.

  52. What a rich and delicious dal makhani 😀
    Lovely looking recipe!

    Choc Chip Uru

  53. Reeni says:

    I’d face plant into it after all those miles! It’s the perfect comfort food. Running used to make me ravenously hungry – nothing would satisfy me. I bet this would.

  54. This looks fantastic! And two marathons in 2 weeks – you go girl!

  55. Kate says:

    Mm mm mmm! I love saucy lentil dishes. I’m pretty sure I’ve made dal makhani before but your version looks better!

  56. Wow! I’m so impressed with all your half marathon running! I run a few miles here and there and feel proud of myself, but never 13 miles. You definitely deserve some ice cream 🙂 I’m not familiar with Dal, but the photos really remind me of chilli, which I love, so I know I would love this dish!

  57. This looks fabulous! A very worthy thing to think about during your run, for sure!

  58. Victoria says:

    Dal Makhani is one of my absolute favorite dals. Did you know they call it the “Queen of Dals”? Rightfully so, it really is that good 🙂

  59. I made the dal, Joanne. I could not find black lentils, so I used yellow, and I used black beans for the beans, but otherwise, made the recipe according to your directions. It was so good. Much better than the dal recipe I had used previously. It was just the right amount of heat for me. The spices are so good together. The list of ingredients may look long, but it is mostly the spices that make it so, and they go in quickly.

  60. Kathleen says:

    Joanne, I finally got around to making this yesterday, and it was fantastic! My husband and daughter both felt that it was better than our local Indian restaurant’s dal makhani. We had enough left for another meal, so I decided to freeze it and see how that works. Thanks again for another recipe that will be in our dinner rotation!

  61. Andrea says:

    Do you have any suggestions for substituting canned lentils and beans? I mean, aside from not doing it. 🙂 I want to make this for dinner tonight and don’t have time to soak the beans overnight. Would it be a can of lentils and a can of beans?

    Thanks for the recipe!

    • joanne says:

      The lentils don’t actually NEED to be soaked and if you just cook them like rice, they should be done in about 15-20 minutes. You could also do a quick soak where you put the lentils and beans in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and let sit for an hour. That’s about the same as soaking overnight.

      However, you can totally use canned beans and yes it would be a can for each of them. Enjoy!

      • Andrea says:

        Thank you so much! The dish came out great with canned beans. I will definitely make it again and will try it with dried beans for comparison. Thanks again!

  62. I made this for dinner last night and it was fantastic! I couldn’t find fenugreek or black lentils at my grocery store, so I used green lentils and skipped the fenugreek. My husband and I loved it and will definitely make it again. When I was cooking it, he walked into the kitchen and said, “It smells like something I’ve never experience before.” I think it was probably the cardamom that he was smelling.

    Anyways, thank you for the recipe! Love it!

  63. Graham Ross says:

    I’m going to try this. My main experience with dal is with masoor dal where I want total mush. I have read that if you salt the water in which the lentils are cooked, it prevents them from softening, which is not desirable in the masoor case. Here you cook the lentils and beans with a big pinch of salt added, and I was wondering if that is about flavor or about texture?

    • joanne says:

      The salt was for flavor! I personally have not found that salt affects the texture of beans very much, but adds a lot to their flavor so I always cook them in it. In this particular dal, you use black lentils which are much heartier than red lentils and will definitely not turn to mush. This is one of my favorite Indian dishes, though, and I highly recommend it!

  64. Melodie says:

    Made this for dinner last night and it was AMAZING! I left out the beans, since mr husband doesn’t eat them, and I was still skeptical if he would eat it….(I’m vegan, he’s omnivore…) He went back for seconds! Only other sub I did was to carmelize the onions without any oil, then deglaze with a little water. This is my favorite dal, I will be making this a lot!

  65. Bea says:

    (Sorry, professional editor here) Typo in #6 in the instructions: “tomato pasta…” Cooking the recipe right now and it smells amazing. 🙂

  66. Jen says:

    The adzuki beans take twice as long to cook as the black lentils with equal soaking time. Made for a frustrating experience. Next time I would omit the adzuki. Not sure why that wasn’t accounted for in the recipe.

  67. Riya says:

    Hey…. try to add cream to it.. it will surely enrich the taste…

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