Mixed lentil stew – North Indian style, dairy free

Is it evident that I am extremely fond of legumes, and I that I love stews?  It should be, and if it isn’t, I shall put matters to rest by sharing many more soon.

The traditional method to cook legumes for an Indian stew would be to let them simmer and cook all night in a tandoor. It is the best way, as the tandoor lends its smoky flavour in addition to a very creamy texture that comes from the slow cooking. Unless I use coal at home, I cannot achieve that flavour. I adopt the more contemporary, practical, time saving and energy saving method of soaking the legumes overnight, and then cooking it under high pressure and further under reduced heat. While pressure cooking may not replicate the flavour it certainly gets you the texture. The recipe I am sharing today is very similar to that of ‘mah ki dal’ or ‘dal maharani‘. There are some minor differences. I will not be able to say which one is better. Both are comfort foods.

I use organic lentils, and find that organic lentils do not stain the soaking liquid with red or black colour, Other lentils do.

Note:  Do not add the spices completely. Add half, check the seasoning and the consistency, and as per your taste, add more. This stew is quite spicy.

Recipe: Mixed lentil stew – North-Indian style
Yield: Serves 10


Red kidney beans | Kashmiri Rajma – 1 cup
Whole black gram lentils | Kali dal | Saboot urad – 1/3 cup
Double beans | Cannellini beans | Val – 1/3 cup
Small chickpeas | Kabuli chana – 1/2 cup
Soak the legumes together the previous night. Next morning drain the soaking liquid. Place legumes in a pressure cooker, add fresh water to cover the legumes and an inch above it.
Onions, medium sized, cut into thin slices – 2
Dried red chillies – 3, stalk removed
Bay leaves – 2
Oil (I used mustard, but any neutral oil is fine) – 3 tbsp.
Garlic cloves, chopped fine – 1tbsp.
Ginger, juliennes – 1 inch
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp.
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp.
Dry mango powder | Aamchoor – 1/4 to 1/2 tsp., to taste
Dry red chillies – 2
Red chilli powder – As per taste
Sea salt – To taste

To serve:
Onions – Cut into thick slices or rings – 1


Pressure cook the legumes with the amount of water mentioned above along with bay leaves, and 1/4 tsp. of salt, under high pressure for five whistles. Reduce heat to minimum and cook further for 10 minutes. Put off heat. Let the cooker cool naturally and remove the lid. Set aside till needed.

Heat oil in a wok. When hot, add garlic, followed by ginger, and red chillies. Let the chillies turn black. Add sliced onions and stir fry till golden. Add the cooked lentils.

Season with cumin, coriander, dry mango powder, and red chilli powder. I add only 1/8 tsp of mango powder, and chilli powder at this stage.

Give the lentil stew a good stir. Add 1/2 cup water and allow to cook till creamy. Adjust mango powder, chilli powder and salt. I find that a tsp. of sambar, rasam or bisibelebhath powder is a wonderful addition. Add only if you like it.

Serve with pulav, steamed rice or with flatbreads. Add thick onion slices or rings on the side.

Tonight the month long run of one dish a day, and veganmofo come to an end.  I have gathered from this that I love blogging! While I may not post a dish every day, I will try and post two dishes each week.  Hope you enjoyed this run as much as I did. Thank you for visiting and for leaving opinions, views, comments, and making my experience really enjoyable.


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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  • Kavi | Foodomania

    P.S: I would have sent you an email. Only, I didn’t know your email ID.

  • Kavi | Foodomania

    Hey Harini! Kavitha here.. (from Chaat chatauri group! :-D) I received an email from some people from 4 seasons inviting to a Michelin star chef series.. My mum said I could go if someone I knew was coming! You’re the only Mumbai Food blogger I know, I was wondering if you got the email and if yes, whether you’ll be attending it? 🙂

    • Harini

      I don’t know about this even, Kavitha. I hope you will attend. It sounds good. 🙂

  • Bharathi

    Congratulations!!! now I will miss the daily recipe updates…believe me every morning I would open my mail waiting with curiosity to know what recipe you would have posted…it was a wonderful experience for us also to be treated to a new dish everyday

    • Harini

      Thank you, Bharathi. It was so much fun, but the work involved is too much. I had to plan every single day and sit up late to finish the post. I am glad the effort paid off, and so many of you came forward to comment and encourage. I will try and post at least two recipes a week now.

  • narf7

    Cheers for your wonderful recipes over vegan mofo october. I have really enjoyed them. As a long standing vegan I embraced Indian food long ago (along with Asian food) as a natural progression from a meat eating diet. Living in Australia makes it easier to get Indian ingredients and I love a good from scratch curry :). Cheers for your efforts and I am sure that everyone is looking forwards to your posts in the future as much as I am 🙂

  • torviewtoronto

    delicious lovely pictures 🙂

  • Romi

    This is one of my all time favourite comfort foods… for it’s nutritive value, amazing flavours and the ease of cooking!

  • malini

    congratulations, very yummy and mouth watering, i love legumes. for this winter i will add little spicy and serve with poori. i will try this.

  • soma

    Congratulations!! I have enjoyed seeing the beautiful pictures and lovely vegan foods. Most of them I never heard of. Thanks for sharing them.

  • Richa

    i love legumes and stews! this one looks perfect for right now! Congratulations for an amazing mofo harini!

    • Harini

      Thanks! You did such a splendid job with all those winning pizzas!

  • Happy Cook / Finla

    Wowo congragulations in completing the one month of posting every day, i have no idea how youhave the stamina and the time to you do it, as you work plus have two kids at home etc… Well done, clapping hands for you for doing this.

    • Harini

      It had a lot to do with determination this month! Thank you so much, Finla. 🙂

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