The Dishoom Black Daal

 You will see queues outside the doors of Dishoom solely for a bowl of its iconic black daal. It's spiced, rich and totally soul-warming

Serves 8

Preparation time 30 minutes

Cooking time 5 hours

It's hard to find a Londoner who doesn't love Dishoom, and equally a Dishoom fan who doesn't rave about its black daal (and probably the okra fries too). It's a cosy and nourishing bowl of warmth based on the daal makhan that is perhaps Dishoom's signature recipe.

Dishoom was launched in 2010 and has been undeniably revolutionary in transforming the standards of affordable Indian food and its perception in the UK. It all started in 2008 with founders Shamil and Kavi Thakrar, who wanted to change the representation of Indian culture in British life, which Samil believed had become tired and cliched. With this goal in mind, Dishoom was conceived, a restaurant that would pay homage to the Irani cafe from 20th century Bombay – a lesser-known facet of Indian culture synonymous with diversity, cosmopolitanism and cultural blending.

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The immersive brilliance of Dishoom's restaurants and the quality of the food served paved the route for Dishooms cult success, voted as Yelp's Best Place to Eat in the UK in 2016. It's now a nine-strong force of restaurants that also offer Deliveroo takeaway, with sites in London, Edinburgh, Manchester and most recently, Birmingham. The empire extends beyond satiating diners with Parsi power breakfasts, soft roti rolls and fragrant biryanis – there's the Dishoom online store too. From Dishoom's own crockery collection, incense, chai, chutneys, naan roll meal kits and even an IPA, the ventures of this Irani cafe seem unstoppable.

Since Dishoom's beginning, one thing hasn't changed: the black daal. It's still the first thing Chef Naved checks on entering any of the kitchens, where each batch is lovingly cooked over 24 hours. Luckily this recipe doesn't require quite so much time, and comes together in around 4-5 hours to produce a richly rewarding bowl of daal. Once you've made the recipe, it's something you'll be cooking on repeat.

The secret to cooking a great daal isn't necessarily about exact timings but knowing what to look for at each stage. It is vital to cook the daal grains completely during step five. It takes quite a long time for the "sauce" to thicken and become creamy – you must watch the pan very closely and stir frequently to ensure it doesn't stick.


  • 300g whole (black) urad daal
  • 12g garlic paste
  • 10g ginger paste
  • 70g tomato purée
  • 8g fine sea salt
  • 2/3 tsp deggi mirch chilli powder
  • 1/3 tsp garam masala
  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 90ml double cream

To serve: chapatis


  1. Place the daal into a large bowl, cover with water and whisk for 10 seconds. Let the daal settle, then pour out the water. Repeat three or four times, until the water is clear.
  2. Tip the daal into a large saucepan and pour in at least 4 litres of cold water. Bring to the boil and steadily cook for 2-3 hours. Skim any impurities that rise to the surface, and add more boiling water as required to keep the grains completely covered. The daal grains need to become completely soft, with the skins coming away from the white grain. When pressed, the white part should be creamy, rather than crumbly. When cooked, turn off the heat and allow the pan to sit for 15 minutes.
  3. In a bowl, mix the ginger and garlic pastes, tomato purée, salt, chilli powder and garam masala to a paste.
  4. Carefully pour off the daal cooking water then pour on enough freshly boiling water to cover the daal by 3-4cm. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat and add the aromatic paste and butter. Cook rapidly for 30 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent the mixture from sticking.
  5. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours, stirring very regularly to prevent it from sticking and adding a little boiling water if the liquid level gets near the level of the grains. Eventually, it will become thick and creamy. The creaminess must come from the grains disintegrating into the liquid, not from the water being allowed to evaporate leaving only the grains behind.
  6. Add the cream and cook for a further 15 minutes. Serve with chapatis or other Indian breads.

Note: when reheating any leftover daal, you may need to add a little more liquid. Use cream or cream and water, rather than water alone.