Dal Makhani (India)

Dal Makhani (India)

Fourth of the Fit Five India series is a creamy lentil dish that is as tasty as it is filling. Traditionally, Dal Makhani is made with butter (makhani = with butter and all.) However, the goal of the Fit Five is to introduce healthier versions of classic cuisines so there will be no butter here. I promise you'll only miss it a little!


  • 1 small can of coconut cream (160g or about 5.5 oz) 
  • 1/2 cup pre-cooked kidney beans 
  • 3/4 cup lentils (if not black then green) 
  • 2 fresh tomatoes 
  • 1/4 red onion 
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger 
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds (or 1 tsp cumin powder)
  • 1 tsp each of: chilli powder (less for less spicy) + garam masala 
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon 
  • salt to taste 
  • fenugreek seeds for garnish (optional) 


Soak lentils for a minimum of 30 minutes before starting (more time if using black lentils.) You'll also want to soak the kidney beans if you didn't buy them pre-cooked. 

Meanwhile, finely chop your garlic + ginger and loosely chop the red onion + tomatoes. Set aside.

Once beans and lentils have been thoroughly soaked, bring them to a boil in saucepan over medium high heat. Cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until soft. 

This next part will require an attention to detail - get ready!

  • Heat sesame or coconut oil in a shallow frying pan and add cumin seeds. When cumin "crackles," you'll want to add the red onion.
  • Once onion turns golden brown, add your ginger + garlic + tomatoes.
  • After tomatoes begin to break down into a sauce, stir in the lentils + beans and all your remaining spices. Cook over medium-low heat for 12-15 minutes.
  • Stir in 3/4 of the coconut cream can. Cook for an extra 5 minutes. 

Once the dish is cooked and flavoured (saltier, spicier, etc.) to your satisfaction, serve in a bowl topped with remaining coconut cream, squeeze of fresh lemon and fenugreek seeds. Should serve 2 comfortably or 1 post-workout hungry person. 

(Tip: to get creamier consistency, cook lentils + kidney beans for longer and smash them with the back of a spoon before adding into tomato + onion skillet.)