Crock Pot Meals – Healthy Daal Makhani (Black Lentil Curry)

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Daal Makhani. It’s like the definitive comfort food.

Lentils make for great healthy crock pot meals. They’re full of protein and fiber and taste absolutely divine – on their own or with some nice steamed rice. Daal Makhani translates to ‘Lentils with butter’, but my version is a little more fitness-friendly.  The slow cooking of the lentils bring all the lovely, warm flavours together and allows you to add less cream and clarified butter (ghee) at the end.

You can get this going before you leave for work, and do a quick tempering when you get home, mix it all together and voila, life is SO SO GOOD.


  • 1 cup split black lentils (Urad Daal)
  • 1/2 can red kidney beans
  • 1 large onion diced and divided
  • 2 large tomatoes diced and divided
  • 1 green chili pepper or jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 4 tbsps heavy cream
  • 1 dried red chili pepper (optional)


  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 pinch Asafoetida powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 1 small stick of cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 4-5 peppercorns
  • Salt to taste


  • Soak the lentils and kidney beans in some water, overnight if you can (or at least a couple of hours and then nuke in the microwave for 5-8 minutes)
  • Add the lentils, 3 cups of water, asafoetida (optional), half the diced tomatoes, half the spices and half the diced onion to the crock pot. Add half the garlic and half the ginger. Mix everything together. Cook on high for 7 hours until the lentils reach a thick, soupy consistency.
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What the daal looks like in the crock pot – look for a split pea soup consistency


  • In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the cumin seeds.
  • Add the rest of the diced onions and dried red chilli (if using), and sauté on medium heat until translucent  to light brown.
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What the tempering looks like – I threw in a few fenugreek seeds but they’re not necessary.


  • Add the diced green chili pepper (if using), ginger and garlic and sauté another minute.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and the second half of the spices  and sauté till the tomatoes are fully cooked and the oil starts to separate from the tomato paste. Add the clarified butter to the tomatoes and let it melt in.
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Stewed tomatoes. Tasty all on their own.


  • Once the tomatoes are fully stewed, add the mix to the crock pot with the lentils with enough water to make for a split-pea soupy consistency. If you have time, let it cook for another 30 minutes – 1 hour on High, but it’s not strictly necessary.
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Mixing all the goodness together… mmmmm…


  • Take out the lentils in a serving bowl, mix in the cream.
  • Serve with Naan or hot steamed rice.


You can also make this in a pressure cooker – add the same ingredients as the crock pot to the pressure cooker, cook for 25 minutes, turn off the heat and let the cooker open naturally and add the tomato mixture afterward. Adjust the water to reach a split-pea soup consistency, turn off the heat, add the cream, mix and serve.



  1. Sarah says:

    Hey Roma
    This looks really yummy. What other fat can I use a substitute for ghee? Also would it work to leave the ingredients in the crock pot on medium high for 9 or 10 hours? 7 hours probably won’t cover the average work day for me. Thanks!

    • BrownGirlCooks says:

      You don’t need to use ghee – just use the oil and a bit of the cream (lactose-free or regular) and leave it at that. Also, if you leave it longer in the slow cooker – it’s fine. At the most, the lentils will get a bit more mushy, which is fine.

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