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Vegan Dal Makhani – Connoisseurus Veg

This vegan dal makhani is made with black lentils, kidney beans and spices in a creamy coconut tomato sauce. A delicious and comforting Indian-inspired curry that you’d never guess was dairy-free!

Bowl of Vegan Dal Makhani with naan and bunch of cilantro in the background.

Dal makhani was always one of my favorite dishes to order at Indian restaurants. It’s so rich and creamy and loaded with flavor!

If you’re not familiar with the dish, it’s a type of dal that’s made with black lentils (urad dal) and often goes by the nickname “butter lentils.” Butter would be one of the reasons it’s so rich and delicious. Heavy cream is the other.

So traditional dal makhani isn’t vegan. But it’s not that tough to veganize at all! I made my version with vegan butter and coconut milk, and it turned out super decadent and delicious.

Jump to:

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Urad dal. This is a variety of black lentil that’s common in Indian cuisine. Look for it in the international foods section of your supermarket, or at an Indian market. If you can’t find it, feel free to substitute another type of lentil, which will still give you a delicious curry. Many common varieties of lentils such as green and brown do not need to be presoaked and will cook faster than urad dal, so this option can save time as well.
  • Red kidney beans. We’re using dried red kidney beans. Normally I’m a canned beans kind of girl, but since we’re soaking the urad dal anyway, I figured why not soak the red beans too! Use canned kidney beans if you opt to substitute a faster cooking variety of lentil.
  • Vegan butter. Look for this near the regular butter at your supermarket. Earth Balance and Miyoko’s are a couple of popular brands to try.
  • Onion.
  • Garlic.
  • Ginger.
  • Whole cumin seeds. I don’t recommend substituting ground cumin. Whole seeds will give your dal a different flavor as well as adding some texture. Look for them in the international foods section at the store, or take a trip to an Indian market.
  • Canned tomato puree.
  • Water.
  • Garam masala.
  • Cayenne pepper. Skip this if you prefer a heat-free version of the recipe.
  • Sugar. Use organic sugar to keep the recipe vegan.
  • Coconut cream. Many stores sell this in cans. If you can’t find it, simply chill a can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight, then scoop out the solids — this is the cream.
  • Salt.
  • Fresh cilantro.

How It’s Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Soak your lentils and beans for at least 4 hours. Simply place them in a bowl, cover them with a few inches of water, and let them sit.
  • When they’re done soaking, drain them, place them in a pot with some water, and boil them until they’re soft.

Time saving options: Your beans and lentils can be soaked and cooked in advance, so they’re ready to go when you want to make this dal. You could also substitute canned beans and lentils, skipping soaking and cooking them altogether.

  • Melt your butter in a large skillet and add diced onion. Cook it for a few minutes to soften it up.
  • Add minced garlic, grated ginger, and cumin seeds. Sauté everything briefly. Be careful to avoid burning.
Onions and spices cooking in a skillet with wooden spoon.
  • Stir in your cooked lentils and beans, tomato puree, water, garam masala, cayenne pepper, and sugar. Bring the sauce to a simmer and let it cook for about 30 minutes to thicken up.
  • Mash up a few of the lentils and beans with a fork or the back of a spoon. This will thicken the sauce and give it a creamy consistency!
Spoon stirring tomato puree into a skillet of lentils and beans to make Vegan Dal Makhani.
  • When your vegan dal makhani has finished cooking, turn off the heat and stir in the coconut cream and salt.
  • Give it a taste test and add more salt if you’d like.
Spoon stirring coconut cream into a skillet of Vegan Dal Makhani.
  • Serve the dal with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. It goes great with some basmati rice or vegan naan.
Skillet of Vegan Dal Makhani with wooden spoon.

Leftovers & Storage

Leftover vegan dal makhani will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for about 4 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.

Bowl of Vegan Dal Makhani on a white wooden surface with naan and bunch of cilantro.

More Vegan Indian Recipes

Like this recipe? If so, please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try it! Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter for more recipes like this one!

Bowl of Vegan Dal Makhani topped with cilantro and coconut cream.

Vegan Dal Makhani

This vegan dal makhani is made with black lentils, kidney beans and spices in a creamy coconut tomato sauce. A delicious and comforting Indian-inspired curry that you’d never guess was dairy-free!

Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 9 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1
    cup
    dried whole black lentils
    (urad dal)
  • ½
    cup
    dried kidney beans
  • 3
    tablespoons
    vegan butter
  • 1
    medium onion,
    diced
  • 3
    garlic cloves,
    minced
  • 1
    teaspoon
    freshly grated ginger
  • 1
    teaspoon
    whole cumin seeds
  • 1
    cup
    canned tomato puree
  • 1
    cup
    water,
    plus more as needed
  • 1 ½
    teaspoons
    garam masala
  • Pinch
    cayenne pepper,
    or to taste
  • 1
    teaspoon
    organic granulated sugar
  • ¼
    cup
    coconut cream,
    plus more for serving
  • 1
    teaspoon
    salt,
    or to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro,
    for serving

Instructions

  1. Place the lentils and kidney beans into a large pot or bowl and cover them with a few inches of water. Soak them for 4 to 12 hours.

  2. When the lentils and beans are done soaking, drain them and place them into a large pot. Cover them with water and place the pot over high heat.

  3. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat, and boil the lentils and beans until they’re soft, 60 to 70 minutes.

  4. Drain the beans and lentils into a colander when they’re done boiling.

  5. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the onion.

  6. Sweat the onion for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it becomes soft and translucent.

  7. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and cumin seeds. Sauté everything for about 1 minute, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until the mixture becomes very fragrant.

  8. Stir in the cooked lentils and kidney beans, along with the tomato puree, water, garam masala, cayenne pepper, and sugar.

  9. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick. Add a bit more water if it becomes too thick while cooking. As the beans and lentils become very soft, mash some of them up with a fork or the back of a spoon.

  10. Remove the skillet from heat. Stir in the coconut cream and salt. Taste-test the dal and add more salt to taste.

  11. Serve topped with additional coconut cream, if desired, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

Recipe Notes

  1. The beans and lentils can be soaked and cooked in advance, then stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  2. Another time saving option is to use 1 (14 ounce) can of precooked kidney beans and 2 (14 ounce) cans of precooked lentils. You probably won’t find the black lentils used in this recipe in cans, but brown canned lentils will still give you a tasty (even if less authentic) dal.

Nutrition Facts

Vegan Dal Makhani

Amount Per Serving (1 heaping cup (¼ of recipe))

Calories 435
Calories from Fat 112

% Daily Value*

Fat 12.4g19%

Saturated Fat 5.7g29%

Sodium 705mg29%

Potassium 1129mg32%

Carbohydrates 63.5g21%

Fiber 20.1g80%

Sugar 16.5g18%

Protein 19.4g39%

Calcium 74mg7%

Iron 7mg39%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



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