Spinach makhani dal

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Vegetarian mains

Spinach makhani dal

Main Serves 2 30 min
Makhani dal is a great vegetarian lentil and kidney bean curry dish; mildly spicy and aromatic, with cloves and cinnamon.

Cook's notes

Please note the tinned lentils do have a tendency to congeal in the tin; this is normal and once rinsed they separate again. We've used spinach but if you make this again use any greens; chard or kale would be good. If you have any leftovers it can be reheated, it will thicken as the lentils absorb more liquid, so add a little stock or water to thin it down if needs be.


  • 150g brown basmati rice
  • 1 medium-large or 2 small onions
  • oil for frying e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 50g ginger
  • 1 chilli
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • 1 tin dark green speckled lentils
  • 1 tin red kidney beans
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • makhani dal spice pot containing:
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp fenugreek
  • ⅛ tsp cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400g spinach
  • 6-8 leaves fresh mint
  • ½ pot double cream
  • 1 tbsp dried coriander leaf
  • salt
  • 1 lemon


Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 20 min
  • Step 1

    Rinse the rice in a sieve. Transfer to a pan. Cover with plenty of water. Bring to the boil. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, until just tender NB cooked brown rice still has plenty of bite. Drain once cooked.
  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, start cooking the dahl. Peel and finely slice the onion. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Add the onion. Fry on a low heat for 10 minutes. Stir now and then and add a splash of water if it looks like it might catch at any point.
  • Step 3

    While the onion cooks, peel and finely chop or crush 2 garlic cloves. Peel and finely grate enough ginger so you have 1 good tablespoon worth. Halve, deseed and finely chop the chilli.
  • Step 4

    Put a large pan of water on to boil for the spinach. Split the cardamom pods open with the flat of your knife. Remove the little black seeds inside. Drain the lentils and kidney beans into the same colander and rinse them under cold water.
  • Step 5

    After the onions have cooked for 10 minutes, add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Stir for 1 minute. Add the tomato purée. Stir for 1 minute. Add the makhani dal spice pot, bay leaf and cardamom seeds. Stir for 1 minute. Add the lentils and beans.
  • Step 6

    Wash out and refill 1 of the tins with water and add that. Bring the pan up to a low simmering boil. Cook for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the liquid; you shouldn't need more, but if it does look like drying out, add a splash more water.
  • Step 7

    Meanwhile, wash the spinach well. Wash the fresh mint and shake dry. Shred the leaves. Once the pan of water is boiling, add the spinach and cook for about 1 minute, until just wilted.
  • Step 8

    Drain, run under cold water to cool it, then squeeze out any excess liquid and chop up. Once the lentils and beans have cooked for 10 minutes, add half the pot of cream and the dried coriander leaf. Simmer for 2-3 minutes or so, to thicken the mixture slightly.
  • Step 9

    Add the spinach and most of the chopped mint. Season and add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Serve with the cooked rice in bowls, topped with the remaining mint, with an extra wedge of lemon on the side too, if you like.

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