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Recipe: Maa-ki Daal / Whole Black Urad Daal / Daal Makhani

This daal and others like it are a staple of Northern India - where daals are typically grown, and plentiful. A handful of dry daal yields a sizable and hearty entree, making it a popular staple across many Indian kitchens.

We joke around our house that this is a daal whose process is so long - that only a mother (aka, as in someone with infinite patience) can love. But it is tasty and worth the effort.

It takes between 24-26 hours to get a ‘good’ and soft daal, that is easy to digest as well. Sure, pressure cooker and slow cookers can also do the trick – but do the first bit – you won’t regret it. Look over the recipe completely to make a time estimate.

Maa-ki Daal / Whole Black Urad Daal / Daal Makhani

Makes: Twelve servings; 175 calories ea. Diet: Vegan adaptable, Vegetarian, Gluten-free Prep Time: 45 minutes plus 24 hour soaking Cook Time: 1 hour


3 tbsp butter 1 tbsp ghee 1 large onions, finely chopped 1 tbsp ginger paste 1 tbsp garlic paste 1 tbsp garam masala 2 tsp cayenne pepper powder 1 can (large) organic fire roasted chopped tomatoes 1 cup dry whole black urad daal, see pre-prep note 1-1½ cups water Pinch of kasuri methi (dried methi/fenugreek leaves) 1 tsp sugar Salt, to taste ¼ cup fresh cream to garnish

To serve

Bakery bread (Italian).. seriously, Naan, or Jeera Rice


Soak the black urad daal in cool water. After the first 12 hours, they will have fluffed up a bit and the water may show some bubbles. They will go from being black pebbles to emerald green capsules. Rinse out with cold water and soak again. Rinse after another 12 hours later, and set it to boil, stovetop, in an oversized stockpot with twice as much water. Skim off the pale greenish foam or froth – this froth makes the daal more difficult to digest. Cook until soft and mushy – removing the foam as you go along. Allow this to come to room temperature. Drain off as much liquid as you like – it looks muddy green, some folks prefer to keep it, others don’t. The soft cooked daal itself will appear to be light tan brown in color. Use these in the recipe.


In a deep, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the butter and ghee together. As it melts, add the onions and let it soften and become translucent. Add the ginger paste and garlic paste, and stir in; cook for about ½ minute. Add the powdered garam masala, cayenne pepper and stir. Quickly follow with the tomatoes and stir well until evenly combined with the spices. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the water begins to evaporate. Remove from heat. After the sauce has stopped steaming, using an immersion blender, carefully blend the sauce into a smooth consistency.

Return to the heat. Carefully add the drained and precooked black urad daal, and stir gently to ensure that the beans do not break apart. Add 1 cup of water, cover, and cook on low for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the beans do not stick to the pan. As the sauce begins to reduce, add the kasuri methi powder, and season with sugar and salt. Cover and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Check to see if the beans have taken on the flavors; if the flavors have not seeped in, add ½ cup of water and simmer for another 10 minutes on low. Add a dash of cream just before serving. Serve hot with sides of choice.

This freezes very well. Double up the recipe, cook it up and portion out the daal without adding the cream. You don’t need to thank me.

Substitutions: I've seen people make it with a mix of black urad and red beans, and others - but each daal has its own flavor. Make it once with the traditional daal and then see if it needs to be changed up.


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Nandita Godbole
Once: botanist & landscape architect.
Now: personal chef, author, an artist, graphic designer, blogger, poet & potter!
Always: dreamer.

Loves fresh brewed chai, the crisp salty ocean breeze, watching monsoon rains & walking barefoot through cold mountain streams. 
Believes in the strength, positivity of the human spirit. Is spiritual but not a fanatic. 
Mom of one. Two, if she counts her husband.

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