Mamma Spice's Dal Makhani
Mamma Spice - Asian

Mamma Spice's Dal Makhani

My mum always has a batch of dal in her freezer to pull out for a quick midweek meal. But back home in India, this recipe was made by her mum only on special occasions due to the extra time needed for cooking and gathering together the ingredients.

If you're making this, pick a day when you can really indulge yourself in the experience of making this from scratch. You won’t regret it.

Serves 4 


250g (9oz) whole black urad dal

2 tbsp vegetable, sunflower or rapeseed (canola) oil

1 onion, finely diced

2 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste 

½ green chilli, minced

2 tsp Garam Masala 

1 tsp Sri Lankan Curry Powder

2 fresh tomatoes, chopped

4 tbsp passata 

Salt, to taste

2 tsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

10g (scant 1 tbsp) butter (optional)

1 tbsp double (heavy) cream


Rinse the dal thoroughly. Tip into a large saucepan and fill with water. Turn on the heat, bring to a rolling simmer and cook for 3 hours. Keep a close eye on this, topping up the water now and then, so the pan doesn’t boil dry.

Alternatively, if you have a pressure cooker, the dal will only take 20–30 minutes to soften. You’ll notice the water becomes dark and starts to take on the consistency of thin soup.

Set aside the dal, together with its cooking water (it’s packed with flavour, so please don’t pour it away!) and allow it to cool a little while you make your sauce. 

Set a heavy-bottomed frying pan (skillet) over a medium-high heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes.

Next, stir in the ginger-garlic paste and green chilli. Cook for a minute, then add the garam masala, Sri Lankan curry powder, fresh tomatoes, passata and salt. Stir again and continue to cook until the sauce begins to bubble.

Next, carefully ladle in the cooked dal with its cooking liquid.

Add the fresh coriander as you warm everything through to a simmer.

Drop in your butter (if using) before serving, then mix and swirl some fresh double cream on top for extra decadence. This isn’t essential, but it is really tasty!

Serve with chapatis or naan bread for dipping.

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