A Healthier Dal Makhani

When it comes to soups, I’m usually not a fan of cream-based broths. I don’t want a soup that rich and milky; zest, spice, hearty is what I go for! Of course, there are a few exceptions (borscht, wild rice roup), and today we’ve got another one. Dal Makhani is a delicious Punjabi soup with black lentils and cream that I’m quite fond of at local restaurants. The problem of course, as with many restaurant-made dishes, is that it tends to be rather unhealthy; as they add much more cream and butter than you or I would add in something made from our own kitchen (this is a pet peeve of mine). So what to do? Try to make a healthier version, of course!

Black Lentils

This project was a bit problematic for several reasons. First, black lentils are a bit hard to find. I scoured the shelves of several grocery stores, specialty and general, to no avail. The best I was able to find was pre-cooked black lentils at Trader Joes. Second, Dal Makhani is traditionally cooked for a very long time under low heat. Who has the time for that? I plan to try with a slow cooker one day, but for this I just settled on a short duration. And finally, there’s the whole butter and cream thing. Let’s be honest. We all have restaurant dishes that we love, due in no small part to the bad-for-you stuff they add. Better to compete with subtle flavoring than overwhelming your taste buds. This dish won’t knock anyone’s socks off, but it’s a good simple meal.

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani
2 tablespoons ghee or butter
1 onion; chopped
1 tablespoon ginger; minced
3 garlic cloves; minced
1 cup cooked black lentils
1/2 cup cooked kidney beans
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Under medium-high heat, heat the ghee until hot then add the cumin and fennel seeds. Stir until they crackle and become fragrant. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, chili powder and tomato paste and saute for 5 minutes. Add the additional ingredients along with any water to get the thickness you prefer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Enjoy.

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