I’m following the dal makhani recipe by Dishoom in London.

The recipe has two steps where the water the lentils are in is discarded and replaced with fresh water.

The first is the water the lentils are soaked in prior to cooking, which is a common step for dried pulses and beans.

After this the lentils are cooked in fresh water. This is then discarded and replaced with fresh water for the final cooking phase.

Is there a reason why both are discarded? Could one water replacement be skipped?

Edit: the recipe as written works fine, but I was curious why the water might be discarded twice as I’ve not encountered that with other recipes using dried beans/pulses.

  • 2
    The point of choosing this kind of recipe by a renowned chef/restaurant is usually to replicate their result - so you have to follow the recipe faithfully (or as faithfully as you can, without a restaurant-strength stove). If you want a simple, time-saving recipe, you should probably look for other sources that are optimized for it.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 22, 2022 at 11:49

1 Answer 1


It's probably worth following that recipe as written at least to start with, but in general it's not necessary and may not be desirable to discard all of the cooking water.

  • This recipe discards the soaking water, but drains and retains the cooking water so some can be added back in.

  • This one seems to use all the cooking water but might be quite wet at the end. However it uses far less water for cooking the dal than the Dishoom recipe.

Skimming the foam off the top is necessary in both of these.

I suspect you could get away with reserving the water drained off in step 5 of Dishoom's recipe, then re-adding the quantity needed. It does seem a little wasteful given that replacing this water isn't an absolute requirement. You could try it both ways and see if you can detect a difference.

I can't find the recipe I use, but it's for a slow cooker, and definitely doesn't discard the water. Slow cooking also avoids skimming.

  • I should’ve stated in my question that I’ve tried the recipe as written and will likely stick with it for the next few attempts, but was curious why the water was discarded twice. I wonder if there is some additional starches or sugars that are removed by doing so.
    – stjep
    Sep 22, 2022 at 12:33
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    Keep in mind that in a professional kitchen the liquid poured off may be used for something else.
    – GdD
    Sep 22, 2022 at 12:34
  • I am curious about your mention that slow cooking doesn’t require the scum to be skimmed off the top. Is that because it does not form and, if so, do you know why that is? Is it merely a function of temperature or the agitation or a boil?
    – stjep
    Sep 22, 2022 at 12:34
  • @stjep I suspect it's the lack of agitation compared to a rolling boil. You get a few persistent bubbles on many dishes (it's a while since I made dhal makhani so can't remember if that's one of them - I cook a lot of bean and lentil dishes in my slow cooker) but no foam or scum
    – Chris H
    Sep 22, 2022 at 12:51
  • @GdD that's certainly true, though in this case I can't think of where it could be used better than in this dish
    – Chris H
    Sep 22, 2022 at 12:53

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