Slow cooker dal makhani (Indian lentils)

Slow cooker dal makhani (Indian lentils) | fchem101.com

I have a very vivid memory of eating at an Indian restaurant in Amsterdam with my family. The night was dark and rainy so our warm, bright table by the window felt like a cheerful refuge from the dreary outside world. Little metal bowls with handles crowded our table, filled with all sorts of delicious concoctions. And at the end of the meal, there was the usual battle for polishing off the best bowls of goop by wiping them clean with our naan. Trying to make it easier on the dishwasher, you know.

Indian has been a staple of my restaurant dining choices for as far back as I can remember, but I’m usually disappointed when I try my hand at those same dishes myself. The flavor seems two-dimensional rather than complex and interesting, or it feels like it’s missing something. I knew when I made ghee that I was on the right track to truly delicious homemade Indian food, so I buckled down and made a trip to an Indian grocery store.

Slow cooker dal makhani (Indian lentils) | fchem101.com

Slow cooker dal makhani (Indian lentils) | fchem101.com

This magical place, full of beans and lentils and every possible spice in 2-pound bags (and luckily some smaller sizes too), unlocked a new world of possibilities. I picked up fenugreek seeds and raw mango powder, along with the right kind of lentils, and hurried home to have fun with my bounty.

Unsurprisingly, having a few key spices made a big difference. This dal is amazing. It’s thick and rich, and it hits all the right flavor notes. Topped with lots of fresh cilantro and soaked up with homemade naan (recipe coming soon!), this is the best Indian food I’ve ever made. And since it’s also super easy to throw everything in the slow cooker in the morning, it can be yours too.

Slow cooker dal makhani (Indian lentils) | fchem101.com

Slow cooker dal makhani (Indian lentils)

The best Indian food I’ve ever made at home! Deliciously thick and creamy, this pot of lentils is perfect as the temperatures start to drop. You can find some of the more unusual spices at an Indian grocery store, or try buying them online (The Spice House is a Chicago-based favorite of mine). Make sure you boil the kidney beans! If they don’t reach a high enough temperature, they can be poisonous.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. dry kidney beans
  • 1 c. whole black lentils
  • 1/4 c. split red lentils
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-inch piece of ginger
  • 2 dried Kashmiri or Guajillo peppers
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. raw mango powder
  • 1/2 t. coriander powder
  • 1 t. fenugreek seeds
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. garam masala
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1/4 c. ghee
  • 1/2 c. cream
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  1. Boil the kidney beans for 10 minutes to make them safe to eat.
  2. While the beans boil, combine all ingredients except the cream and cilantro in a slow cooker. Use a garlic press for the garlic and a fine grater for the ginger. Remove the stems and shake out the seeds from the peppers. Add 5 cups of water, which should cover the lentils and beans by about an inch.
  3. Cook for 8-10 hours on low heat, until the beans are fully cooked. Mash some of the lentils to thicken the sauce and remove the chiles. Taste and add salt and/or cayenne to taste.
  4. Stir in the cream and top with plenty of cilantro. Serve over rice or with naan.

Adapted from Novice Housewife.