comfort/indian food/recipes/restaurant recipes/Vegetarian Recipes

Dishoom’s Black Dal and Garlic Naan

Posted March 19, 2016 by Stephanie
black dal and garlic naan -

black dal and garlic naan -

Last Winter, Mike and I spent some time in London. It’s one of my favorite cities – full of fun cafes, quirky shopping, a blend of old and new architecture, and of course, food. London is well known for their Indian food scene and even though I’ve been to London four times, the last was the first time I tried out Dishoom, a Irani-style Bombay inspired cafe. They serve a modern take on Indian food and it is absolutely delicious.

black dal and garlic naan -

One of the reasons why it took so long to make it there is the fact that they have notoriously long lines and no reservations. One day though, we decided to just go for it. We spent about an hour waiting outside under some heaters, complimentary hot chai in hand, peering in at diners, dreaming about what we were going to order.

In some cases, when you build up a restaurant in your head you end up disappointed. It might be the service, it might be the atmosphere, and sometimes, it’s even the food. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case at Dishoom. It was so nice that Mike and I ended up going twice. We even ended up ordering some of the same dishes, we were that in love.

black dal and garlic naan -

One of them was the black dal. To be honest, I wasn’t initially interested in the dal, even though the menu was trying really hard to sell it. It’s Dishoom’s house special and each batch cooks for over 24 hours. I noticed it, but with so many other delicious things to order, it just didn’t jump out at me. Thankfully the server told us it was a must; she was right. It was deep and dark, the lentils were the perfect falling apart, yet still holding together texture – tiny bursts of flavor that exploded into deliciousness with just a touch of pressure.

I kept telling Mike, as I used garlicky naan to scoop up bit after bit, I have to figure out how to make this at home. It was easier said than done though. Dishoom’s black dal is their closely guarded secret and intense Google searches revealed nothing. Eventually, I went with a modified version of this recipe, adapting the spices a bit and upping the cooking time infinitely. I know 24 hours is a LOT, but it’s entirely hands off – a covered pot just sits in an extremely low oven – and the result is incredible.

black dal and garlic naan -

This was my first time making dal, but it won’t be my last. Especially since I just went ahead and bought an extra large bag of lentils. This dal is filling, hearty, luxurious, and best of all, full of protein. You could leave out the butter and cream for a vegan version, but I think they add just that extra bit of oomph that I tasted in Dishoom’s version.

black dal and garlic naan -

Black Dal Recipe adapted from The Tiffin Box
makes about 4.5 cups dal

This isn’t a quick recipe, but the hands-off time is completely chill and the end result is absolutely amazing. Slow cooking in the oven adds a bit of smokiness that you wouldn’t otherwise get on the stove. Make sure you use a heavy bottomed cooking vessel with an oven safe lid. I used a petite Staub and the depth worked perfectly. You don’t want too large of a pot because the dal will be too shallow, which could potentially lead to burning/drying out.

  • 1 cup black lentils (I used black beluga lentils)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5.5 ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • salt, to taste
  • cilantro and yogurt, to garnish

Soak the lentils in plenty of cold water overnight. The next day, rinse and drain well. Place in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a hard boil for 5-10 minutes, skimming if needed. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are very soft but still hold their shape, about 40 minutes to 1 hour. If needed, top the pot up with water. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a dry pan, lightly toast the cloves, star anise, coriander, cumin, cayenne, fennel, garam masala, and cardamom, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 – 45 seconds. Remove from heat and grind in a spice grinder or crush with a mortar and pestle and set aside.

In a oven safe heavy bottom pot, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, 5-8 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the spices, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf.

Stir in the tomato paste and add up to 1 cup of water to bring the whole thing to a thick, soup-like consistency. Add the lentils back in, adding a bit of water, if needed.

Tightly cover with foil or an oven safe lid and cook for 3-4 hours checking every 30 minutes or so, adding water if needed to maintain a soup like texture. If you’re committed and want to cook your dal for 24 hours, turn the oven to 200°F overnight and then up the temperature to 300°F when you get up in the morning. Give it a good stir and let it cook, at 300°F until you hit 24 hours.

Remove from the oven and stir in the cream and butter. Taste and season with salt. Enjoy with rice or naan!

Garlic Naan Bread Recipe via Indian Simmer
makes 4 naan breads

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • melted garlic butter* and chopped cilantro, to serve

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and yogurt. Set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl or on a clean work surface. Make a well and slowly add in the milk-yogurt mix bit by bit, combining with the flour. Knead into a soft dough. Gather into ball and cover 2 hours.

Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and use a rolling pin to flatten and stretch out. Heat up a heavy bottomed cast iron skillet (with a lid) over high heat. Brush one side of the naan with water and place in the skillet, water side down. Cover and cook for 30 seconds or until you see it start to bubble and rise. Use a pair of tongs and take it off the pan and cook the uncooked side over direct flames until it starts to char. Alternatively, flip and cook the pan until it starts to brown. Brush with a bit of melted butter and sprinkle on chopped cilantro. Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces.

Note: I made the melted garlic butter by heating up about 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 cloves of minced garlic over very low heat until the garlic was cooked through but not brown.

black dal and garlic naan -


  1. Cara Rowlands says:

    I’m so happy you’ve created a recipe for this! I went to Dishoom when I was in London back in October (4 times for breakfast, once for dinner) and since I got back to Canada I’ve been combing the Internet for their recipes. Everything I had there was so delicious, especially the Dal! I’m very excited to try this out :)

  2. Katrina says:

    This dal is just…perfection! Love those black lentils!!

  3. Barb says:

    I LOVE Dishoom! I go every time I’m in London for business. The daal is definitely worth it. I almost skipped it too. Also, they do take reservations, but maybe only for large parties? Also, have you been to their brunch? I never thought I’d be a fan of savory, spicy breakfasts, but I was pleasantly surprised!

  4. Karina says:

    This looks incredible, I am definitely going to have to give it a try.

  5. Nitin says:

    Stephanie this is awesome! Daal and naan are my
    First love and this looks amazing! I’ve heard so much about Dishoom I only wish I can eat there.

  6. Tammela says:

    Dal is underrated and so delicious! A simple one come together so quickly and makes a great meal with some naan or chapati and yogurt.

  7. Nikita says:

    This sounds absolutely phenomenal. Can’t wait to try it.

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      thanks nikita!!

  8. Olivia says:

    When do you add garlic in your naan recipe?

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      whoops, i added that! thanks for the heads up!

  9. Alex says:

    Can the Dal be made in a pressure cooker?

    There’s no garlic in the garlic naan?

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      i haven’t tried in a pressure cooker – i’m not familiar with how much/little time it would take but imagine it can be done.

      i added the garlic in – thanks for letting me know!

  10. Hi Stephanie. It looks so incredibly moorish. Just delicious!!!! I love your use of garlic butter with the naan bread. I look forward to trying this take on dal with the use of beluga lentils. Thanks for sharing ?

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      thank you!! i hope you give it a try!

  11. Emily says:

    Oh my. This looks amazing. Love the video of the naan over the gas – I always feel legit when I warm pita like that.

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      i totally agree! it is totally legit when you warm up pita/naan and maybe even toast over an open flame :)

  12. Love Dhal! In fact I have some packed for my lunch today :) I have never tried black Dahl, but as soon as I have my next craving, I will be trying this recipe. You’ve definitely sold it to me :)

  13. Allyson says:

    OMG. I just made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic. So much so that I want to make it again tomorrow. Serious winner right here.

  14. Anna says:

    They don’t take reservations except for parties larger than 6! Theres always a line out the door, even at the new location at Kings X location which isn’t half as nice as their Soho joint.

    1. Jenny says:

      You can get a reservation at Dishoom for lunch, though. And I think “lunch” goes until 5:30. We ate there between Harry Potter parts 1 and 2. Life-changing!! Particularly for my now-obsessed-with Indian-food 12 year old.

  15. Sierra says:

    Made this yesterday. It was amazing! None of the steps were much work and the anticipation was fun after working on it for so long :)

  16. Suruchi says:

    Stephanie this is the best post! I actually worked in Dishoom’s office when I studied abroad in London two years ago and the team is just as amazing as the food they serve there, and this just makes me miss them and their daal just as much! (: (I basically survived my three months in London by eating their daal for lunch every single day!)

  17. Catriona Middleton says:

    Hi- this looks insane! I live in East London and have been to Dishoom quite a few times. That dal… Omnomnom!

    I see you used black beluga lentils… could I use the same method with black urad lentils? Black beluga lentils are a lot harder to find!

    Amazing blog ??

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      yes! i think that black urad lentils will totally work. i’m pretty sure the ones at dishoom aren’t black beluga :)

  18. Brian says:

    To get even more smoke flavour I heat a barbeque charcoal over a flame till it is red hot. Then pop a small bowl with a lump of butter and a few cloves into the finished pot of dal (it should balance nicely on top.) Drop the hot charcoal lump onto the butter and cloves then put a lid onto the dal to catch the smoke. leave for 20 minutes. This method also is good for finishing oven cooked tandoori or tikka chicken.

  19. Kate says:

    I was looking for a BB Dahl recipe that would help me imitate Dishooms! I can’t wait to make it!! Thank you! I’ve been to Soho & Shoreditch, both were great. I wish I lived closer to london!

  20. Ashley says:

    Made this because I was missing the real thing from dishoom. If all vegetarian food was this good, I might actually be vegetarian :D. Great work!

  21. Jae says:

    Can this be made with green, brown or red masoor lentils?

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      i haven’t tried it, but i would say, yes, for sure!

  22. Karen says:

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! I’ve been dreaming about this ever since I got back from London! Thank you for sharing!
    Just a quick question which size petite Staub do you use? This is the best excuse for me to get one! :)

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      hi karen,

      it’s this one! it’s pretty small and perfect for making stew for 2 :)

  23. Ali says:

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! Silly question… You say it makes 4.5 cups of daal but you only use 1 in the recipe. Is this correct? And how many people does this recipe serve? Hoping to make it for 5-6 people. Thanks :)

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      not silly at all! you add tomato paste and water to the beans, which expand considerably. it depends on if you’re serving it as a side or a main. i think it will serve 5-6 as a side if you have lots of naan, if you need it as a main, i’d double it just to be on the safe side.

  24. David Garthwaite says:

    Made this, great recipe and the overnight cooking makes a LOT of difference, didnt bother with soaking the lentils just cooked them first, also added a little more of the spices for a stronger flavor. My shop only had Green lentils but I’ll go out of my way for black next time as they give it a better flavor. Well done.

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      i think the overnight adds a lot too – just that extra bit of hands off luxuriousness. thanks so much for making and commenting! nice to know it works well with green lentils too :)

  25. Hi Stephanie,
    I am huge fan of your blog, thank you for so many wonderful recipes, some of which I have already made with excellent results. I have a question about this one (I LOVE Dishoom’s black dhal and can’t wait to make this!). Could I used pre-cooked beluga lentils? I couldn’t find dry ones and am wondering if the extended cooking time of this dish will turn pre-cooked lentils into a mush. Thanks in advance.

    1. Stephanie says:

      i haven’t tried with precooked lentils, but i think it might work. but you’ll definitely have a different texture. you could definitely do the recipe with other lentils if you can’t find black ones. hope that helps a bit!

  26. Daniel Skelton says:

    Excited to try this! Do you think this could this be done using a slow cooker on low heat?

    1. Stephanie says:

      i suspect that it would work well, but i haven’t tried it. if you do and it works out, please let me know! also, keep an eye on the liquid content. you don’t want it too be too liquid-y but you don’t want it to dry out either. hope that helps a little bit!

      1. Esther says:

        I’m slow cooking it as I write! Needs quite a bit of water adding to it every couple of hours. Had it for dinner tonight after 4 hrs ins slow cooker and was seriously good but I know it’s gonna get a whole lot better overnight!

        1. Bruce says:

          How did the slow cooking go? I prefer this idea to leaving my gas oven on overnight! Do you think it needs too much water adding to be able to leave it on low overnight for about eight hours?

  27. Isabel says:

    Wow, so excited to come across recipe. Had the amazing dish at Dishoom the other week and it’s so delicious – can’t get enough! Had to order my organic beluga black lentils online – pricy, but hope it’s worth it. I will try to cook mine in the halogen oven and see how it turns out. Thanks for the recipe!

  28. Jan says:

    Hi can’t wait to try this love Dishoom
    But confused with 24 hour cooking tines please can you clarify ?

  29. Jan says:

    Sorry I’ll try again ? I love Dishoom & their Black Dahl can’t wait to try this recipe. Bit confused about timing for cooking 24 hours please can you clarify.

    Many Thanks ?

    1. Stephanie says:

      after completing the steps on the stove (toasting the spices, bringing everything to a soup like consistency), cover the pot tightly with foil and then bake for 3-4 hours at 325°F, making sure to stir every so often. then, turn the oven down to 200°F and cook overnight – technically it’s not 24 hours, if that helps!

  30. Lex says:

    This is so delicious. I used a slow cooker- on high at first and then low overnight. It was so good that I regretted not making a double portion.

    1. Stephanie says:

      yay! so happy they turned out in the slow cooker! thanks for letting me know :)

  31. Ash says:

    Hey, thanks so much for this recipe. Can’t wait to try it. I am in the UK and wanted to check what you mean by Tomato Paste – is that the same as Tomato puree? Thanks.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi ash,
      yes, tomato puree works!

  32. Maddie P. says:

    Can you make this in a slow cooker overnight instead of using the oven?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi maddie,
      i haven’t tried it, but it think it would work, just make sure to check before you head to bed to see if it’s too dry and add a bit of liquid. let me know how it goes!

  33. Kittiwick says:

    Very good. I did 3hrs with 180°C in the oven, then turned up to 230°C for 15 min, then switched it off an let it sit in the oven over night.
    It reheats very well too, even tastier.

    1. Stephanie says:

      yay! so happy you liked it :)

  34. Guy says:

    Since my wife first visited Dishoom in Soho in 2015, and then again in 2016, I have been told repeatedly that it is FANTASTIC, and especially the Black Dhal!!
    In case you didn’t know there is now a Dishoom on St Andrew’s Square in Edinburgh, only 20 miles from home, and I agree…….it’s amazing!
    I now make your recipe by the half kilo (dry weight) to be frozen in batches, in case of urgent need! After all 20 miles might be too far in times of urgent need!!!!!!
    Thank you for the time that you have spent constructing this recipe.
    I find that the 24 hour cooking time is essential, but made very easy in our AGA, bottom oven. (for American readers you will have to Google this very British cooking appliance.)

    1. Stephanie says:

      20 miles is definitely a lot closer than me having to fly all the way there! i’m jealous of both your proximity and your aga! so happy you and your wife like the recipe :)

  35. Jenny says:

    After letting it cook overnight at 200, then in am, stir it and put it back up to 300 ( for the rest of the 24 hours,) should I continue to add a bit of water to it (if needed) and check it every 1/2 hour? Is there a big difference in taste if I don’t cook it at 300 for the last 9 hours, but instead just let it cook overnight?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi jenny,

      you can definitely let it just cook overnight without finishing it at 300, but i find that the last bit thickens up the dal and reduces the liquid!

  36. Aline Moura says:

    what you mean by whole cloves? is it garlic clove?

    1. Stephanie says:

      whole cloves are a small flower shaped shape. it’s what ground cloves come from. you can buy them at the grocery store or substitute ground cloves :)

  37. Spyros says:

    I loved this dish myself and desperately want to cook it!
    I’m terrified of the idea of leaving the oven overnight though.
    Isn’t this very very unsafe?!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi! it’s a really low temperature so you should be fine!

  38. Mark says:

    Just checking….are the cardamoms in the recipe the normal green ones, or did you use black ones to give a smoky flavour?

    Many thanks

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi mark,

      i used the regular green pods but it think the black ones would be a nice adaptation! let me know how it goes :)

  39. Chris says:

    Followed the recipe exactly – even slow-cooked it for 8+ hours on 200 after 3 hours at 325. It is half-decent at best and nothing like Dishoom’s.

    1. Any thoughts why this might be Chris? Any flavours in the Dishoom version not in this do you reckon?

  40. Jemma Louise says:

    I definitely just died and went to heaven with this recipe. I made it with no oil and no butter to make it healthier and lower calorie, just finishing with some Alpro Simply Plain Soya Yoghurt and as far as I’m concerned you don’t miss the fats. Definitely need to try to long cook version too but this was insanely delicious! Thanks so much for sharing ?

    1. Stephanie says:

      yay so happy it turned out jemma. and with not oil and butter too! :D

  41. Grania says:

    I made this at the weekend as part of an Indian feast for friends, and it was an absolute winner! I used a slow cooker (3 hours on high, the remaining 21 hours on low) and it was sensational – even converted those less keen on dal as despite the long cooking time the lentils still kept their bite. I’ll definitely be making this again!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi grania,
      i’m so happy it worked out in the slow cooker! thanks so much for coming back and leaving a comment :)

  42. Ricarda says:

    Dear Stephanie, thank you very much for this wonderful recipe! I have three questions: (1) On the packaging of my black beluga lentils it says they don’t need to soak in water overnight – they have only to be cooked for 20 minutes. Should I still soak them overnight? They are not pre-cooked or anything else. (2) With “can tomato paste” do you refer to concentrated tomato paste or to normal canned tomatoes? (3) Since we don’t have ‘ounce’ here in Germany, this would be around 1.6 kilogram tomato paste – is that right? Sorry, I was just wondering about so much tomato haha

    Thank you very very much and have a lovely day!

    My warmest wishes from Berlin, Ricarda

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi ricarda,

      1. it should be okay if you don’t soak the lentils.
      2. it’s concentrated tomato paste
      3. a little bit over 1/2 cup will work, 0.155922 kg or 155 grams

      hope that helps! please let me know how it turns out!

  43. Amanda says:

    Hi, I went to the Edinburgh Dishhoom last year and fell in love with the masala beans at breakfast! I wondered if anyone had a decent recipe for this. It should be really simple, but although I have tried to recreate it I can’t. Any tips would be appreciated.

    1. Stephanie says:

      i haven’t tried them :(

  44. Lillian says:

    I haven’t been able to find any black lentils at all (neither beluga nor black urad), I found mungo beans and brown lentils. Do you think either could work? Which one could taste more close to Dishoom’s? I’ve been craving their black urad since last year, and I’m quite far away to go!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi lilian,
      i would go for the brown lentils!

    2. Chrissy says:

      Amazon has them in the States.

  45. MiMi says:

    This dal is so good – it’s not exactly Dishoom (if I’m nitpicking) but boy does it sub pretty darn well when I’m in New York – and not in London!
    Personally, I don’t find salt at the end to be deep enough – so I salt at the onion phase, and once or twice when I’m stirring and it’s in the oven.
    With that said – i found this recipe when I was looking for the Dishoom recipe, and it’s been my go-to ever since!!

    1. Stephanie says:

      good call on the salting – it’s definitely a personal thing and salting at the onion phase helps with the browning. so glad it’s become your go-to!

  46. Chrissy says:

    Made this. Absolutely delicious. Close enough to Dishoom’s. I live in Florida, USA, so I can’t just drive over when I hankering for their black dal but this will hold me over until my next trip to London. Thank you!

  47. Kim says:

    Our server at Dishoom said the distinctive flavor comes from soaking the lentils in black tea before the long cook — has anyone tried this?

  48. Mark Bowen says:

    We used to live in London and Dishoom was a favourite, along with this particular dish. I made this and it is AUTHENTIC! Thank you so much for your research and sharing this. It is now in my permanent recipe collection!

    1. Stephanie says:

      i’m so happy that you liked it! now that the weather is so chilly, i’m going to have to make a big batch :)

  49. Laura says:

    I followed this recipe exactly for 24 hours and it completely dried up. At the ~12 hour mark (in the morning when i went to stir it) it looked great but by the time it came time to eat it, it was completely dry and inedible. Really disappointing!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi laura,
      i’m so sorry that happened! not too sure what could have gone wrong – how is the temperature on your oven? did you cover the pot tightly with foil? you may have needed to add a bit more liquid during the first 3-4 hours. was it still dry after stirring in the cream and butter?

  50. Tamara says:

    I loved that dish so much that I’m glad someone recreated the recipe for me! I’m going to try this now. We had no problem getting reservations at the Kensington location and it was our favorite meal of the trip.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hopefully it lives up to the memory! :)

  51. Maureen L says:

    Thank you for this recipe!! I used it after struggling with the one in the Dishoom cookbook, your a life saver. Also can we talk about the naan!! I’ve always been scared about making a bread and this worked!! Me and my sister loved it – your the best!!

    1. Stephanie says:

      oh yay thanks so much! i still want to try the dal in the dishoom book because i mean, it’s from the source, right?!

  52. gino says:

    do you cook at 325 for 4 hours THEN switch to 200 for 20 or just go straight to 200 for 24?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi gino,
      cook for 4 hours at 325°F then switch to 200°F for the remaining :)

  53. Manisha says:

    5 stars
    Made this recipe. It was very tasty.

  54. Vivian says:

    Hi! Excited to try this. I don’t have the right sized cocotte unfortunately. Which of these would you recommend for a best alternative?

    1. Use my 6-qt Dutch oven and try my best to monitor the liquid;
    2. Use a ~4-qt pot that’s oven safe but not heavy bottomed and still a bit big;
    3. Do everything that’s needed on the stove top and then transfer to a 2-3 qt glass casserole vessel and cover tightly with foil?

    Thanks in advance for your guidance!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi vivian,
      i would do the last one, do everything on the stove top and transfer to a casserole and cover with foil :)

  55. shani kara says:

    5 stars
    Thanks for this. I used all the spice I had on your list, adding mustard seeds, allspice and paprika. I also subbed some passata for water and some of the purée. I ninja pressure cooked the beans with the bay then sautéed the onion, spice etc before slow cooking on high for 9 hours. I didn’t add the final butter/cream but it was lush all the same. Only 179 calories per sixth so I might add some coconut to a leftover portion.

  56. Sophie says:

    5 stars
    I’ve been using this recipe for years and it’s wonderful. Over time I’ve subbed the cream out for coconut milk and cook it for about 48 hrs (while slowly adding more liquid where needed) and it is simply divine. My friends love it, thanks so much for creating this recipe!

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