Vegan Dal Makhani – Black Gram and Kidney Beans in Creamy Buttery Gravy. Glutenfree Recipe

Vegan Dal Makhani - Black Gram and Kidney Beans in Creamy Buttery Gravy


Hi you all. I am guest posting this yummylicious restaurant style Dal at Vedged Out today! I discovered Somer via Kristy and have been hooked to Vedged Out since. All the positive energy, amazing food, her personality, keep me visting her for more and more. Wish you a consistent and good recovery Somer. Thank you for opening up your space to us.
Beans and lentils, are what we eat pretty much everyday as a part of Indian meals. They end up on the plate usually in a Dal preparation. Some other days in Burgers, pizzas, and more too. Dals are my comfort food, as well as something I would serve as a part of an Indian meal at an event. Amp up the earthy lentils with some specific spices, non dairy milk/butter, different methods of Tadka/Tempering and there you have a delicious hearty bowl of goodness. 
Today, I am bringing you my Mom’s Dal Makhani. The lentils used are Whole black gram and Kidney beans. Makhani means creamy and buttery. The non vegan version of this Dal contains a good load of cream, ghee(clarified butter) and butter. Mom is now quite adept at vegan-izing things. So when I asked her what she was going to do about the Makhani part, she said just wait and watch and added some almond milk and cashew milk for a similar taste and it worked perfectly. I served the Dal with a teaspoon of Earth balance on top per bowl. And you should have seen the bliss on my Dad’s face:)  My omni brother also guzzled down bowls and bowls full of the Dal.
If you cant find the lentils used for this Dal, use any similar sized lentil or bean as a substitute from your local store. Substitute brown lentils for black gram, and pinto, black eyed pea, black beans for kidney beans. 

Lots more Dals, Bean/Lentil Stews here

Black gram/ Urad Whole (Black Matpe Bean)

Black gram is different than black lentils. Black gram looks like a black mung bean, fat and cylindrical, while black lentils(beluga) are black colored flat lentils. You can use black lentils or other lentils in this recipe if you don’t have black gram. I have only seen it in Indian stores and online, so it can be difficult to come by.

Red Kidney Beans

Whole Urad lentils, Vigna mungo, black gram or black lentil are these pretty lentils which look like black Mung beans. The beans are available as whole or split or split+skinned like most whole lentils in India.

Ground into flour or soaked and fermented, urad is also extensively used in South Indian culinary preparations, such as dosa crepes, idli – steamed lentil cakes, vada – savory doughnuts, and Papad/Papadum.
Black gram is rich in good protein, vitamin A, B1 and B3 and has small amount of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C in it.

Red Kidney Beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, kidney beans’ high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as rice, kidney beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein.

For Step by Step Pictures and the Recipe head on over to Vedged Out here!

Or See below…


Tempering Ingredients.

Heat oil. Add cumin seeds and cook until fragrant.

Add garlic, ginger, chili and cook until golden.

Add onions and cook until translucent.

Add tomatoes, asafoetida, garam masala and cook until tomatoes are tender.

Add tempering to cooked beans. Add milks, mix well.

Cook until the beans are mushy.

Serve hot topped with a dollop of vegan butter or olive oil. The pictured Dal is cooked in a pressure cooker that breaks the beans down really well. If using slow cooker or crockpot to cook the dal, mash some of the dal with a spatula. 


Dal Makhani – Beans in creamy buttery gravy

Allergy Information: Free of dairy, egg, corn, soy, gluten, grain, yeast

Serves 4-5

For the Lentils:
1 cup whole black gram (Urad Whole) or use black lentils
1/2 cup kidney beans (Rajma)
3.5 – 4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne or to taste

For the Tempering:

2 tsp oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2-3 green chilis finely chopped (I use Serrano chili pepper)
1 inch ginger, finely chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium size onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida(hing)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 medium size tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon garam masala (regular or punjabi)
1 Tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves(Kasoori methi, or Use a 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek/methi seeds)-Optional
2 Tablespoons Almond milk
1/4 cup Cashew milk (I used So delicious Cashew milk. Or Soak cashews and blend to make milky cashew cream.)
Vegan butter such as Earth Balance as needed


Soak the lentils and beans overnight. 
Pressure cook black gram and Kidney beans in 3.5 cups of water with salt and chili powder for 3-4 whistles (25 minutes at high pressure once pressure has reached).
Or use a slow cooker to cook urad beans and keep ready. Kidney beans cannot be cooked in a slow cooker from raw state, so use 1 cup cooked canned beans.
In a large pan, add oil and heat on medium-high heat.
Add cumin seeds and cook till they start to change color.
Add ginger, garlic and green chili and saute until golden.
Add onion, asafetida and cook until translucent.
Add the tomato and turmeric and cook until tomatoes are mushy. (13-15 minutes till this step).
Add the cooked black gram, kidney beans and the water they were cooked in.
Add garam masala, fenugreek and the milks. Mix, taste and adjust salt.
Add more water if the mixture is too thick.
Simmer on low heat till the dals/beans are totally soft. Mash some of the lentils with the spatula. 30 minutes.
Or Pressure cook for 5 minutes at high pressure once the pressure has reached. (1 whistle + simmer for 5)
Top with a small dollop of vegan butter or olive oil and cilantro.
Serve with Roti/Naan flatbread or Rice Pilaf or other cooked grains like Quinoa, millet.

Note: There are several types of pressure cookers. Some have different pressure settings. The one I use has a whistle top which acts as the pressure regulator(this model ). And it only has setting for high pressure. When the pressure inside builds up to high pressure, the pressure regulator automatically releases a little pressure at intervals to keep it maintained at a safe high pressure. That release sounds like a whistle because of the sudden steam release, which is counted to time the cooking as I have learnt from mom :)


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  1. says

    Thanks so much for this Richa. My Mum bought me a bag of black gram a while ago (she knows I love food presents!) but I haven’t looked into how to use it. Now I have a recipe! It looks great, and I even have some oat cream in my fridge to use up which I’m sure would work fine instead of the almond/cashew milk :)

  2. says

    Do you know, I’ve been meaning to make dal makhani for ages, and never got around to it, mainly as it all seemed a bit vegan unfriendly. Thanks for changing my mind!

  3. says

    I love the word, “buttery gravy.” I like wet foods, i.e., curry, soup, noodle soup, moist baos, etc. Congrats with the guest post at Vedged Out, I like her blog, too. I will check out your recipe!

  4. says

    I made this tonight, along with your naan(and a cumin spinach + potato dish) and it was fantastic. I used oat cream for the milks specified and it was wonderfully rich and flavourful. Thank you for the recipe :)

  5. says

    Hello Richa,

    Can you explain the flavor or how essential of asafoetida to a dish? I bought it once, but as soon as brought it into my home, the odor completely took over the house. sorry it smells like my son’s socks after a football game. I had to remove it immediately from my home & never used it. I can’t imagine it tasting different than it smells. As I learning to cook Indian traditional recipes, I ofter wonder if I’m missing important ingredient. Thanks for so much for sharing!

    • says

      You can eliminate it in most dishes. it gives a somewhat garlic type of flavor to the dish and also helps degas the beans and lentils. the quantity used is quite less so the difference in taste with or without it is not very noticeable.

  6. says

    This is truly EXCELLENT. I have tried many different dal makhani recipes, and this is definitely the best-tasting and most authentic one out there! Thank you!!!

  7. Anonymous says

    This is truly EXCELLENT. I have tried many different dal makhani recipes, and this one is the most authentic and the most delicious one out there. Thank you for this amazing recipe!

  8. says

    What do you mean by pressure cooking to x number of whistles? My pressure cooker doesn’t whistle… :( Just minutes?

    Pressure cook black gram and Kidney beans in 3.5 cups of water with salt and chili powder for 3-4 whistles.

    • says

      Hi Eric, there are several types of pressure cooker. some have different pressure settings. the one i am using has a whistle top which acts as the pressure regulator. (this model and it only has setting for high pressure. when the pressure inside builds up to high pressure, the pressure regulator automatically releases a little pressure to keep it maintained at a safe high pressure. that release sounds like a whistle because of the sudden steam release. I should change the instructions on the post for other types of pressure cookers.
      for cooking the black gram and kidney beans, keep the pressure regulator at high pressure for 10 minutes at high heat, then reduce the eat to low-medium and continue to cook for another 10.
      For the step when the beans are being cooked with the curry, cook on low-medium heat with the pressure regulator at high pressure for 20 minutes.
      Hope this helps.

      • Kelly L says

        Thanks for the explanation. My pressure cooker doesn’t ‘whistle’, either. I have not used it much because all recipes that I come across using the pressure cooker talk about ‘whistles’. Looking forward to making this recipe!

  9. says

    I would love to make this but I don’t have a pressure cooker. I have a hard time cooking black lentils in the slow cooker since they take all day! What am I doing wrong? This is my favorite dal of all time! How do I cook the lentils in the slow cooker? I also bought a bag of split black lentils and now I am confused on what to do with them. I got them because the whole ones took all day even with overnight soaking!! Really!
    thank you for your advice! Maureen

    • says

      hmm. did you add the tomato etc to the beans while cooking? the acid can prevent the beans from breaking down.
      overnight soaked whole urad breaks down quicker than kidney beans.
      you can use the split urad to make dal as well. use it anywhere where it calls for red lentils or yellow mung dal.

    • Acacio says

      Richa, do not cook this dish in a slow cooker if you’re starting with raw kidney beans, as they produce Phytohemagglutinin when not cooked in high-enough heat. Phytohemagglutinin is very toxic and may even cause death. If you must use a slow cooker, boil the beans for a while before putting them on the slow cooker. You can make a web search on safe methods to cook kidney beans.

  10. says

    No I didn’t add the tomato while cooking. I will use the split urad now! To cook the whole ones in the crock pot is 8-10 hours on HIGH with over night soaking! I buy them at Patel Brothers so I know they are fresh. Thanks for your recipes! I love them!

    • says

      that is indeed odd. maybe a bad batch of the urad then. you can try cooking just the whole urad in a pan, covered, 3 cups water for 1/2 cup whole urad, on high heat on stove top for an hour and see if they get tender at all. if they don’t then it is a bad batch.

      the split urad will cook much faster and will also have a lighter color. the taste of the dal makhani should be similar though.

  11. says

    This looks so good! Do you have a garam masala recommendation or a recipe you use to make your own? I have a jarred garam masala, and I kind of hate it. It is way too heavy on cloves and they overpower. Maybe I could use a favorite curry powder instead?

  12. Catherine Sultana says

    Hi Richa,
    I wound up here looking for a recipe that uses flour made from black gram lentils.
    I inadvertently bought bag when I was looking for chickpea flour!
    Since I like the idea of low fat, vegan, Indian cooking, I found you!

    Can you direct me? Thanks a lot!

  13. Jenny says


    I was wondering where to find black gram? I am actually also in Seattle and would prefer to avoid ordering online if it can be found in store.


    • says

      you can find it in all the Indian grocery stores.
      like Mayuri in 2560 152nd Avenue Northeast
      Redmond, WA
      Apna Bazaar 2245 148th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98007
      r & M grocery in Udistrict 5501 University Way Northeast, Seattle, WA 98105

      or find one near you here
      some of the listings on this link are just spice stores. call them before going.

  14. Krista says

    Hi Richa,

    I made this recipe tonight and it was delicious. I couldn’t find urad dal in my neighbourhood, so I used plain brown lentils, and it still turned out great! Not as authentic due to the different lentils, but it still tasted so rich and flavourful! I didn’t have a pressure cooker, so I made it on the stovetop instead; it just took a bit longer. I will definitely make this again, and I’ll make a trip to the punjabi market here in Vancouver to find some urad dal. Can’t wait for your cookbook!

    • says

      yay! so glad it turned out great! Yes, do try urad (whole black urad lentils for this recipe). All of the different types of lentils/beans have a distinct taste and texture and they work so beautifully in some particular recipes!

  15. Michelle says

    Just had this for dinner tonight, it is absolutely delicious!
    I used the black lentils because I couldn’t find black gram, I also added chopped carrots and parsnip to get some veggies in there. I also forgot to keep the water from the beans and lentils but I added about 1 litre of plain water and it was no drama. It turned out a lot less runny than the pics, assuming because of the veggies, but that’s still definitely not a negative.
    I served it with some brown basmatti and a glass of red and was sent to heaven!
    Thanks for the recipe Richa, it has served me well.

  16. Nina says

    I made this dal yesterday. I was grocery shopping and I saw whole black lentils lying there. I was like huh…. take them with me, I’m gonna make me some dal baby 😀 … It turned out great, was very delicious. I made some aloo paratha to go with it. I had some potato stuffing left, baked it and put a spoonful in my dal. It actually worked as a binder. And it tasted extra good :) :)

    • says

      Hi Patricia, yes there are some mustard seeds in the pictures. :) My mom adds just cumin or both cumin and mustard. These are pictures from one of her visits when she made the dal and I clicked the steps. You can use just cumin or 1 tsp cumin + 1/2 tsp mustard as well.


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