Dal Makhani with Collards and Country Ham

Chef Meherwan Irani’s Southern-inspired riff on dal makhani, an Indian dish of long-simmered beans and lentils cooked with spices and aromatics and enriched with butter, incorporates collards and crushed tomatoes, and is finished with an extra dollop of heavy cream and thinly shaved country ham. To tenderize the collard greens in this creamy dish, cook them in a large pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and let cool. If you can’t find black lentils, substitute Sea Island red peas or green lentils.

Dal Makhani
Photo: Victor Protasio
Total Time:
8 hrs 30 mins


  • 1 1/2 cups dried urad dal (black lentils) or black-eyed peas

  • 1/2 cup dried kidney beans

  • 6 cups water, divided

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter, plus more if needed

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 2 to 3 cloves

  • 2 to 3 green cardamom pods

  • 1 black cardamom pod (optional)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger (grated on a Microplane)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated garlic (grated on a Microplane)

  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onion

  • 2 serrano chiles, finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes

  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) bunch collard greens, stemmed, blanched, and chopped (about 3 1/2 cups)

  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala

  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

  • 1 cup thinly sliced or shaved country ham (such as Benton’s) (about 2 ounces)

  • Cilantro sprigs


  1. Combine lentils and kidney beans in a large saucepan; add water to cover by 3 inches, and let soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain and add 5 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt to beans in pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high; cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils and beans are tender but not mushy, about 45 minutes. Drain, reserving cooking liquid. Set aside.

  2. Heat ghee in a large Dutch oven over medium. Add cumin seeds, peppercorns, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, green cardamom pods, and black cardamom pod, if using. Cook, stirring constantly, until spices begin to sizzle, about 30 seconds. Stir in ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add onion, chiles, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until onion is browned, about 7 minutes. (If needed, add a teaspoon or so more ghee.) Stir in chile powder and turmeric; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes, and cook, stirring often, until tomatoes are slightly thickened and glossy, about 12 minutes.

  3. Stir drained lentil mixture into tomato mixture, crushing lentils and beans slightly with a ladle. Add 2 cups reserved cooking liquid, blanched collards, half-and-half, garam masala, remaining 1 cup water, and fenugreek leaves, if using, and bring to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Season with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. (If dal is too thick, thin with an additional 1/2 cup water.) To serve, drizzle with cream, sprinkle with ham, and garnish with cilantro. Serve with naan or paratha.

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