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Indian Butter Lentils

The spices in Indian food calm my nerves. This recipe blends those spices with lentils and cream. Is there anything this dish can’t do?

Indian Butter Lentils

Indian Butter Lentils

Indian Butter Lentils, traditionally called Dal Makhni, is a classic recipe that is easy to make passable. Most recipes call for a ton of butter and cream, and it’s hard to make that taste bad. This recipe is easy to make, but its gets the spices just right and includes the perfect amount of these healthy fats, making it warming and comforting without being a heavy gut punch.

If you’re looking to make a whole Indian feast try this Saag Paneer.

Indian Butter Lentils

  • 1h
  • 3h
  • 4h


  • 1 c dried whole black lentils
  • 1/2 c kidney beans
  • 2 qt vegetable stock
  • 2 large onions
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • 3 tbsp. butter, or ghee
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cardamom pods, cracked open
  • 2 whole whole cloves
  • 2 small dried hot red chilies, more or less to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. garam masala
  • 3/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground fenugreek
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp. butter, for finishing
  • 1/2 c cream


  1. Add the black lentils and red beans to a large bowl; fill the bowl with room temperature water and soak overnight. Rinse and drain the next day.
  2. Add the lentils and beans to a 5-quart pot along with the vegetable stock. Bring up to a boil, then cover the pot, turn heat down to simmer, and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. Chop the onion and crush the garlic. Grate the ginger.
  4. Heat the butter ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and caramelized, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can add a splash of water or reduce heat down if the onions start to get too dark.
  5. Once the onion is caramelized, add the garlic and ginger bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, red chilies, garam masala, coriander, cumin, chili powder, sweet paprika, fenugreek, and black pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  6. Once the lentils and beans have cooked for 1 hour, stir in the onion/spice mixture, salt, the diced tomatoes, and the tomato paste.
  7. Gently simmer, partially covered, until the sauce is somewhat thickened and the lentils and beans are fully tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring frequently.
  8. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter and cream. Add additional salt to taste.


  • 4
  • 668
  • 22g
  • 77g
  • 17g
  • 31g
  • 19g
  • 86mg
  • 17g
  • 1959mg

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