Creamy black dhal with crispy onions

This super-satisfying, slow cooker curry is packed with iron and fibre. Serve with a choice of tasty garnishes to turn your simple supper into a warming feast

  • Prep:35 mins
    Cook:6 hrs 35 mins
    plus 4 hrs soaking (cook for 2 hrs 35 mins, if using hob instead of slow cooker)
  • Serves 4
  • Easy

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 527
  • fat 34g
  • saturates 21g
  • carbs 35g
  • sugars 9g
  • fibre 6g
  • protein 19g
  • salt 0.1g


  • 250g black urid beans (also called urid dal, urad dal, black lentils or black gram beans - available from large supermarkets) - yellow split peas also work well
  • 100g butter or ghee
  • 2 large white onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • small bunch coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves reserved to serve
  • 400g passata or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 fat red chilli, pierced a few times with the tip of a sharp knife
  • 50ml double cream
  • cooked rice, naan bread or baked sweet potatoes
  • coriander
  • sliced red chilli
  • lime wedges
  • yogurt (or a swirl of cream)
  • your favourite Indian pickle or chutney
  • crispy salad onions (to make your own, see recipe below)


To make the crispy onions

Thinly slice 1 red or white onion. Heat enough vegetable or sunflower oil to come 1-2 cm up the side of a large pan. When hot, fry the onions in batches until crisp, drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt. 


  1. Soak the beans in cold water for 4 hrs (or overnight, if you like).

  2. Melt the butter or ghee in a large pan, then add the onions, garlic and ginger, and cook slowly for 10-15 mins until the onions are starting to caramelise. Stir in the spices, coriander stalks and 100ml water. Pour into the slow cooker (or leave in the pan if cooking on the hob). Add the passata and whole red chilli. Drain the beans and add these too, then top up with 400ml water. Season well, set the slow cooker to Low and cook for 5-6 hrs (or cover and cook for 2 hrs over a very low heat on the hob).

  3. Once cooked, the dhal should be very thick and the beans tender. Stir in the cream, check the seasoning and serve in bowls with naan bread, rice or in a jacket potato, with your choice of toppings. To freeze the dhal, cool completely, then divide into containers or sandwich bags. Freeze for up to 2 months, defrost and heat thoroughly before eating.

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