Vegan Coconut Milk Dal Makhani

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Vegan Dal Makhani
Creamy, rich and fragrant dal makhani — literally "buttery lentils" — variations of this once humble north Indian street food staple have become signature dishes in fine Indian restaurants and homes across the world. Like other famous dal curries, dal makhani invites experimentation. The essentials of whole urad beans — easily found in any Indian grocer and also known as black gram — and red kidney beans, ginger, garam masala, and cream remain the same in all of these variations, but otherwise the dals are a canvas upon which to work your seasoning art.

I've made several variations of this famous dish in my own kitchen, and this time around, I skipped the cream and went with coconut milk for the creamy element that adds to the texture of the velvety cooked legumes. The earthy flavors of the dals are layered with the aromatic tastes of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg, along with a complex but subtle heat from chilies, Kashmiri chili powder and garam masala, with a little tang from tomato, all tempered by creamy coconut milk and completed with a gentle hint of bitterness from dried fenugreek leaves. This is a dish that my husband could eat almost every day.

Don't be deterred by the long list of ingredients — it's very easy to prepare.
Dal Makhani
Vegan Coconut Milk Dal MakhaniVegan Coconut Milk Dal Makhani
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on June 2, 2022

The classic fragrant spiced Punjabi bean curry made vegan with coconut milk

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes

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  • 3/4 cup whole dried urad beans (black gram)
  • 1/4 cup dried red kidney beans
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 black cardamon pods
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 green cardamon pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 to 3 fresh green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, to taste, minced or crushed
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 teaspoons Kashmiri or other chili powder
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • /2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1/2 teaspoon amchoor (dried mango) powder (optional)
  • small handful of dried curry leaves, crushed
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (methi)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • Rinse the urad beans and kidney beans and soak for 8 hour or overnight in enough water to cover. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large saucepan, add the cinnamon stick, black cardamon pods, cloves, and turmeric, and pour in the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer for 50 minutes or longer, until the beans are tender. Stir occasionally, adding more water as necessary.

  • While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds, green cardamon pods, and fenugreek seeds, and fry for about 1 minute until the cumin seeds begin to brown. Now add the chilies, garlic, and ginger and fry for another minute. Reduce the heat to medium, add the chili powder, paprika, coriander, nutmeg or mace, asafetida, amchoor powder (if using), and curry leaves, and stir for another 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes and garam masala, and cook for another 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture is thickened.

  • Discard the cinnamon stick and cardamon pods from the cooked beans, whisk, and then stir the tomato mixture and coconut milk into the cooked beans. Simmer for another 15 minutes to blend the flavors, stirring occasionally.

  • Add the fenugreek leaves and salt, and stir to combine. Serve hot with fresh cooked basmatic rice.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Vegan Dal Makhani
Other recipes with urad beans you may enjoy from Lisa's Kitchen:
Punjabi-Inspired Black Gram Dal
Urad Dal with Coconut, Shallots and Cilantro
Urad Dal with Toor Dal and Spinach and Parsley
Urad Dal Tomato Soup

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