Indian Black Lentils (Kaali Daal)

Black Lentils
Bowl of black lentils Jelena Jojic Tomic/Stocksy United
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
504 Calories
23g Fat
62g Carbs
17g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 504
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 8g 42%
Cholesterol 34mg 11%
Sodium 556mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 62g 23%
Dietary Fiber 10g 35%
Protein 17g
Calcium 154mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Another popular North Indian dish is kaali daal or daal makkhani. Black lentils are cooked with spices, tomatoes, and cream for a wholesome and delicious dish also known as ma ki daal (mom's lentils) for its comfort-food qualities. 

Serve kaali daal/daal makkhani with a vegetable side dish and naan (tandoor-baked flatbread) or with butter chicken and naan.

The lentils will need to soak in water overnight so plan accordingly.


  • 1 cup split urad daal (black lentils, soaked overnight in water to cover)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 large onions (sliced thin)
  • 2 green chilies (slit)
  • Pinch​ of asafetida
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (like vegetable, canola or sunflower)
  • 2-inch piece of ginger (julienned)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
  • 2 large tomatoes (chopped into cubes)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (whisked)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Steps to Make It

  1. Soak the urad daal (black lentils) in a bowl of water overnight.

  2. Boil the soaked lentils with 3 cups of water, 1 sliced onion, green chilies, asafetida, and salt to taste till they are very tender. Set aside.

  3. In a separate pan, heat the oil and fry the other onion until soft. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for 1 minute.

  4. Add the tomatoes, coriander, cumin, and red chili powder and fry for another 5 minutes.

  5. Add the reserved boiled lentils and enough water to make a thick gravy-like consistency and mix well. Simmer for 10 minutes.

  6. Pour in the whisked cream and mix well. Turn off the fire.

  7. In another small pan, heat the ghee and when hot add the cumin seeds and cook till they stop spluttering.

  8. Pour this into the lentils (it will all sizzle) and mix well.

  9. Serve hot with a vegetable side dish and naans (tandoor-baked leavened Indian flatbread) or butter chicken and naan.

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