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Cook this: Black lentils with red kidney beans from Chetna's Healthy Indian

Black lentils with red kidney beans from Chetna's Healthy Indian by Chetna Makan.
Black lentils with red kidney beans from Chetna's Healthy Indian by Chetna Makan. - Mitchell Beazley

Our cookbook of the week is Chetna’s Healthy Indian by Chetna Makan, who rose to fame as a Great British Bake Off semifinalist. Over the next two days, we’ll feature another recipe from the book and an interview with its author.

To try another recipe from the book, check out: Paneer and cavolo nero saag .

“It’s just really comfort food,” Chetna Makan says of her take on dal makhani, a northern Indian specialty she grew up eating, which is often rich with butter and cream. “I’ve made a healthier version, which is how I cook at home. So I don’t really add lots and lots of butter to it. It’s one of the simple things. You need a bit of time to slow cook it but it’s totally worth it.”

Cooked over low heat, the flavours intensify and improve with time (look forward to leftovers). Black cardamom pods give the legumes a distinctly earthy, smoky aroma: Green cardamom is not a suitable substitute.

Makan recommends serving it with rice, naan or chapatti. But the dish also plays a supporting role in one of her menu plans in the book, where she suggests serving it with an onion and whole spice chicken curry, potato and zucchini salad, and mango and mint chutney.


300 g (10 1/2 oz) whole black lentils (urad dal)
100 g (3 1/2 oz) dried red kidney beans
Roughly 2 cups (500 mL) water, for soaking
6 cups (1.4 L) water
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 black cardamom pods
1 tbsp ghee
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small green chili, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder
6 tbsp-3/4 cup (100–200 mL) boiling water, to loosen, if required
1 tbsp whipping cream
Rice, naan or chapati, to serve

To garnish:
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 small green chili, thinly sliced

Step 1

Soak the lentils and beans in the measured soaking water for 4–5 hours.

Step 2

Transfer the pulses and their soaking water to a deep saucepan and add the measured water, plus the salt and black cardamom pods. Bring the liquid to the boil, then cover the pan with a lid and simmer over low heat for 1 hour or until the lentils and beans are cooked.

Step 3

In a separate large saucepan, heat the ghee over low heat, then add the garlic and chili and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato purée, garam masala and chili powder and cook for another minute.

Step 4

Tip the cooked lentils and beans into the pan of spices, mixing well. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over low heat for 1–1 1/2 hours, stirring every 10–15 minutes to ensure the mixture does not stick to the base of the pan. If the lentils become too thick during cooking, add just enough of the measured boiling water to loosen the mixture.

Step 5

Finally, when the dal is ready, add the cream and mix well. Garnish with the coriander and sliced chili and serve immediately with rice, naan or chapati.

Serves: 4–6

Excerpted from Chetna’s Healthy Indian: Everyday Family Meals Effortlessly Good for You by Chetna Makan. Copyright © Chetna Makan 2019. Photography by Nassima Rothacker. Published in 2019 by Mitchell Beazley, an imprint of Octopus Publishing Group Ltd. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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