Buttered Black Beans (Kali Dal)

A complex Indian bean dish that can be made with help from the slow cooker
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes


The beans

  • 1 cup black whole gram beans (urad dal)
  • 2 tbsp red kidney beans

For cooking beans

  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped or grated fresh ginger root
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh tomatoes 1/2 cup canned drained tomatoes or 1/3 cup canned tomato puree
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter

To finish

  • 4 tbsp ghee or light vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup minced or finely chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed chopped coriander leaves


Soak the Beans

  1. Clean and rinse the gram beans and kidney beans.  Put into a saucepan and add 4 cups water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Turn off heat, let soak, covered, for 2 hours.  Do not drain.

Cook the Beans

  1. Add the “for cooking beans” ingredients to the soaked beans, stir to mix.  Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.
  2. Transfer to slow cooker with a preheated cooking vessel (alternatively, you can continue cooking on the stove over very low heat for about 5 hours, stirring occasionally being sure to not boil rapidly, which will make the beans slimy).
  3. When beans are cooked through, remove 2-3 cups and finely puree them.  Return to the slow cooker.

Finish the dish

  1. heat ghee or oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. When fat is hot, add cumin seed, and stir until seeds turn dark brown (about 10 seconds).
  2. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until they are golden brown, 10 minutes or so.
  3. Pour over the cooked beans.
  4. Add the heavy cream and coriander leaves, stir well, and heat until everything is warm.
  5. Add more salt if needed.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni