Madras Lentils Recipe: Health Benefits and Variations 2023

Madras lentils recipe

What are Madras Lentils?

Madras lentils are a type of Indian dish that consists of red lentils and kidney beans cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. They are also known as dal makhani, which means “buttery lentils” in Hindi. Madras lentils recipe are rich in protein, fiber, iron and antioxidants, making them a nutritious and satisfying meal.


  • 1 cup whole black lentils (urad dal), rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup red kidney beans (rajma), rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream (or vegan cream of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)


  • Add black lentils, kidney beans and water to the Instant Pot. Close lid and set valve to sealing. Press pressure cook or manual button and set the timer for 30 minutes on high pressure.
  • When timer is up, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then carefully turn valve to vent to release the remaining pressure. Open lid and mash some of beans with a potato masher or a spoon to thicken the mixture.
  • Press sauté button and heat the oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt, chili powder and garam masala and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and golden.
  • Add onion mixture and tomato paste to the Instant Pot and stir well to combine. Press cancel button off sauté mode.5. Stir in coconut cream and cilantro (if using) and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
  • Enjoy your Madras Lentils recipe with rice, naan bread, roti or paratha.


  • You can also make this recipe on the stovetop by soaking the beans overnight and then cooking them in a large pot with water for about an hour or until tender. Then follow steps 3 to 5 as above.
  • You can also use canned beans instead of dry beans for this recipe. You will need one 15 ounce can of black lentils and one 15 ounce can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed. Skip step 1 and add the canned beans along with the onion mixture in step 4.
  • This recipe can also use canned tomato sauce instead of tomato paste. You will need one cup of tomato sauce and reduce the water to two cups in step 1.


Serving size: 1 cup 

Calories: 282 

Fat: 9 g  

Carbohydrates: 38 g

Fiber: 16 g 

Protein: 15 g

Are Madras Lentils Healthy?

Madras lentils are healthy as they provide a lot of plant based protein, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber and essential minerals. They can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels and support digestive health and immune system. However, madras lentil recipe can also be high in calories, fat and sodium, depending on how they are prepared and what ingredients are added. To make them healthier, you can use low fat or non dairy cream, reduce the amount of oil and butter and add more vegetables.

Are Madras Lentils Vegan?

Madras lentils are not vegan by default, as they usually contain cream, butter or ghee (clarified butter). However, you can easily make them vegan by substituting these ingredients with plant based alternatives, like coconut milk, vegan butter or vegetable oil. Add some nutritional yeast or cashew cream for extra creaminess and flavor.

Madras Lentils vs. Dal Maharani vs. Dal Makhani Recipe

Madras lentils recipe

Madras lentils, dal maharani and dal makhani are all variations of the same dish, with slight differences in ingredients and cooking methods. Madras lentils are most common name used in the US and Canada, while dal maharani and dal makhani are more prevalent in India and other parts of Asia. The main difference is that dal maharani uses only red lentils (masoor dal), while madras lentils recipe and dal makhani use a combination of red lentils and kidney beans (rajma). Dal makhani is also cooked longer on low heat, resulting in a thicker and creamier texture.

Dietary Variations Madras Lentils Recipe

You can quickly adapt the Madras lentil recipe to suit your dietary preferences and needs. These are some suggestions:

Gluten Free: Madras lentils are naturally gluten free, as long as you use gluten free spices and sauces. You can serve them with gluten free bread or rice.

Dairy Free: You can replace the cream, butter or ghee with non dairy alternatives, like coconut milk, vegan butter or vegetable oil.

Vegetarian: Madras lentils are vegetarian friendly, as they do not contain any meat or animal products. You can add more vegetables to make them more colorful and nutritious.

Vegan: You can make madras lentils vegan by following the same steps as for dairy free version. Add some nutritional yeast or cashew cream for extra creaminess and flavor.

What to Serve Madras Lentils Recipe?

Madras lentils recipe

Madras lentils are a versatile dish that can be served with various accompaniments. Some most common ones are:

Rice: Rice is staple food in many cuisines and pairs well with madras lentils. You can use white rice, brown rice, basmati rice or any other type of rice prefer.

Bread: Bread is another popular option to serve with madras lentils. You can use naan bread, roti bread, pita bread or any other kind of flatbread you like.

Salad: Salad is great way to add freshness and crunch to your meal. You can use any salad greens you have on hand, like lettuce, spinach, kale or arugula. You can also add chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, carrots or other vegetables you enjoy.

Yogurt: Yogurt is common accompaniment for many Indian dishes. It adds some tanginess and creaminess to your dish. You can use plain or flavored curd. You can also make your raita by mixing yogurt with grated cucumber, salt, pepper and mint leaves.

Storing and Reheating Madras Lentils Recipe

Madras lentils recipe

Storing in the Refrigerator

You can store leftover Madras lentils in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Make sure to let them cool properly before storing them.

Freezing the Leftovers

You can freeze the leftover Madras lentils recipe for up to 3 months. To do so, transfer them to a freezer safe container or ziplock bag and label it with date. Make sure to leave space for expansion.

Thawing Frozen Leftovers

To thaw frozen madras lentils, leave them in the refrigerator overnight or microwave them on low power until they are defrosted. You can also place them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes until they are heated.

Reheating Leftovers

To reheat madras lentils, you can either microwave them on high power for a few minutes, stirring occasionally or heat them on the stovetop over medium low heat, stirring frequently. You may need to add some water or broth to adjust consistency and prevent them from drying out.


Madras lentils recipe is a delicious and nutritious dish that everyone can enjoy. They are easy to make and can be customized to your taste and dietary needs. They are great for meal prep and leftovers. Try recipe today and let us know how you liked it.

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