Spicy Vegan Dal Makhani (Beluga or Black Lentils) for the Slow Cooker

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To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Inspired by these gorgeous photos & the recipe HERE from Petit World Citizen – I created this adaptation of that recipe.

My understanding is that Dal Makhani translates to “buttery lentils” – but this dish used no butter.  You can opt to use vegan butter (or real butter – if you are not vegan) in place of the olive oil – and you will be making this in the more traditional way.  I also understand that it typicaally includes red beans but this version does not.  I used Beluga or black lentils that I bought HERE on Amazon.  The original recipe called for 5-6 cups of water to one cup of lentils and I doubled the recipe.  After a full day of cooking in the slow cooker, it was still a very thin soup – so – I added the rest of the black lentils – the full 2lbs.  As a result – I have a fuckton of Dal Makhani – enough to fill THIS 6 QT Crock-Pot to the brim.  But – it is healthy & light & freezes well & I’m OK eating the same thing for lunch every day for a week – so I will deal.  You might want to consider cutting the recipe at least in half.

Also – I radically increased the spices of the original recipe & it came out fiery hot.  I added sugar & some potato slices to modify that & it worked wonders.

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Spicy Vegan Dal Makhani (Beluga or Black Lentils) for the Slow Cooker

Make 3-6 quarts (your call) – enough to feed 8-20 – especially if served with rice.

You can cut this recipe in half – by simply reducing the lentils & water by half but keep the other ingredients complete as listed here.  I made it as listed below but with half the lentils but it was too watery.  I then doubled the lentil portion without adding anything else.  So – you have two options below.


for 3 quarts use:

1 lb (2 cups) black beluga lentils, sorted and rinsed
6 cups water – plus more if necessary


for 6 quarts use:

2 lbs (4 cups) black beluga lentils, sorted and rinsed
12 cups water – plus more if necessary

Either way – the rest of the ingredients remain the SAME:

26 oz tomato purée/sauce
4 teaspoons salt
1 TBS sweet paprika or chili powder (I used chili powder)
2 TBS ground garam masala
1 TBS ground turmeric
1 tsp (or more, to taste) cayenne pepper or 2 finely chopped green jalapeño pepper (I used BOTH)
dash of ground cinnamon
1-4 TBS olive oil, vegetable oil or butter (I used 1 TBS olive oil)
4 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds (toasted in a dry pan for a few minutes until brown & fragrant – and ground up with a mortar & pestle – the grinding part being optional)
2 TBS ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4-6 green onions, sliced thinly, plus more for garnish
1 (15 oz) can coconut milk for a vegan version (I used lite)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (plus more for garnish)

Up to 1 TBS sugar – optional addition for if your dal comes out too spicy

1 large potato – peeled & diced – optional addition for if your dal comes out too spicy

Avocado slices or lime wedges – for garnish

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Place rinsed lentils into a 6-quart Crock-Pot with water.  Add tomato sauce, salt, paprika or chili powder, garam masala, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon.

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan a few minutes until just beginning to brown & they become fragrant.  Be careful not to burn them.  Grind them in a mortar & pestle (grinding not strictly necessary).  Then, in small saucepan, heat oil on medium high heat, add toasted cumin seeds and ginger.  Sauté for 3-5 minutes and then add garlic & green onions and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the sautéed mixture to the crockpot and give everything a good mixing up to incorporate things.

Set the timer for 6 hours on HIGH.   If you are home while it cooks – stir it once in a while for a creamier texture.

After the cooking time is done, the dal should be very soft. Add the coconut milk & stir it in.   Taste, adjust seasoning.  If it is too spicy – add the sugar & potato.  Continue cooking for 15 or so minutes or until the potato is soft.  If the dal is too thick, add some hot water until preferred consistency is achieved.  If it’s too thin, uncover and cook longer until it thickens.

When done, mix in chopped cilantro. Top with avocados, if using, and garnish with cilantro and green onions or lime wedges. Serve hot with rice, roti or naan.

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