Dal Makhani

4.24 from 30 votes

Rich, creamy, buttery, and smoky, Dal Makhani is a very popular North Indian lentil dish made using black lentils, lots of butter, and mild spices. Serve it with naan or jeera rice for an unforgettable meal!

Dal makhani served in a bowl.
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About This Recipe

Dal Makhani is one of the most popular recipes of North Indian cuisine (especially Punjabi) and it literally translates to buttery lentils. You will definitely find this rich and creamy dal on the menu of every possible North Indian restaurant all over the world. It is also on the menu of dhabas (North Indian roadside eateries) and when served with crispy tandoori roti or jeera rice, it’s a flavor explosion in your mouth.

Dal Makhani is a delicious combination of whole black lentils (urad), Bengal gram, and red kidney beans cooked with a lot of butter, heavy cream, and mild spices.

Because of the rich ingredients used to make this dal, it is not your everyday lentil dish. Make it for special occasions or festivals and serve it with naan or jeera rice for an unforgettable meal.

Traditionally, dal makani was cooked on low flame for hours to get that ultimate creamy texture. But in today’s time, when life is so busy, who has all that time, right? But don’t get disheartened. My recipe to cook this dal in either a traditional Indian style pressure cooker or an Instant Pot will get you the same result if not better.

I always cook the lentils in a pressure cooker or instant pot to fasten the process and then give a tempering in a pot over the stovetop. But if you want to make it in one-pot, then do check out my One-Pot Instant Pot Dal Makhani post.

And if you still want to cook it on low heat, then try my slow cooker dal makhani. It’s one pot, dump-and-go recipe and the taste is incredible too. I also have a Jain dal makhani recipe made using no onion, ginger, or garlic. So if you are practicing Jainism, heed on to that.

Here are some more Indian lentil recipes that you can try

Ingredients

Dal Makhani Ingredients 1
Dal makhani ingredients 2
dal makhani ingredients 3

You will get all the ingredients to make this dish in an Indian grocery store. Some of them are available online too.

Lentil – You will need Whole Black Lentils (Kali Urad, Khadi Urad), Bengal gram (Chana Dal), and Red Kidney Beans (Rajma).

Adding Bengal gram is optional but it makes the dal very creamy. Not many people add it to their dal makani recipe but this is one thing that makes my recipe the BEST!

Tomato Puree – It adds a nice tang to the cooked dal. Use canned tomato puree instead of using homemade one as it is more concentrated and packed with flavors. You can also use tomato paste in place of tomato puree. Just use half the amount and the paste is even more concentrated than the puree.

Ghee(Clarified Butter), Butter, and Heavy Cream – Do not compromise on these ingredients because they add to the taste and richness of this dish. 

Other Ingredients – Other than the above-mentioned ingredients, you will also need fresh ginger, ginger garlic paste, onions, ground cumin powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, garam masala powder, Kasuri methi, and salt. 

Instead of red chili powder, you can also use cayenne pepper, paprika, or smoked paprika (even better).

I sometimes like to add a little yogurt while making the masala of dal makhani. It gives a lovely tang to it and makes the lentils creamier. You can also add some roasted gram flour (besan) to make it creamier.

Smoky Flavor – To give this dal a restaurant-style smoky flavor, I give it a Dhungar using coal. You can use a piece of cinnamon stick in place of coal if it’s not easily available.

How To Make Dal Makhani

Preparation

The first step to making Dal Makhani is to soak the lentils. Soaking the lentils not only reduces the cooking time but also makes the lentils easily digestible.

Wash ½ cup whole black lentils (whole urad), 1 tablespoon Bengal gram (chana dal), and ¼ cup Red Kidney Beans (rajma) with water and soak them together or separately in 3-4 cups of water for 8-10 hours or overnight.

Soaked lentils.

Cook The Lentils

The next step is to cook the lentils. You can either cook them in a traditional Indian pressure cooker or Instant Pot. I will not suggest cooking them in a pot over the stovetop as it takes a lot of time to cook them in the pot which is a waste of time and energy.

Cooking The Lentils In An Instant Pot

Wash the soaked lentils once again and drain them well.

Add them to the instant pot along with 2 tablespoon ghee, 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder, ½ teaspoon cumin powder, and 2 teaspoon salt.

Add 3 cups of water and close the lid.

Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 25 minutes on HIGH PRESSURE. The instant pot will take some time to build the pressure and the timer to start. Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure manually by moving the vent to the venting position. Use a spoon to move the vent to prevent steam burn off the fingers.

Open the lid and mash the dal with the back of a ladle until creamy. Set aside.

Cooking The Lentils In Indian Pressure Cooker

Wash the soaked lentils once again and drain them well.

Add them to a pressure cooker along with 2 tablespoon ghee, 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder, ½ teaspoon cumin powder, and 2 teaspoon salt.

Add 4 cups of water and close the lid.

Pressure cook for 1 whistle on high heat. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for 25 minutes.

Remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally. Then open the lid.

Mash the dal with the back of a ladle or a potato masher until it is creamy. Set aside.

Steps to cook dal makhani in a pressure cooker.

Tempering The Cooked Lentils

Once the lentils are cooked, let’s temper them.

Heat 2 tablespoon ghee in a skillet over high heat.

While the ghee is heating, lightly crush 2 green cardamoms, 2 black cardamoms, 2-inch pieces of cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves, and 3-4 whole black peppercorns in a mortar and pestle.

Whole spices crushed in a mortar and pestle.

When the ghee is hot, add the crushed whole spices, 2 bay leaves, and 2-3 dry red chilies to the skillet and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.

Crushed whole spices, bay leaves and dry red chilies added to the pan.

Add 1 cup grated onions and fry till they are lightly browned (8-10 minutes).

onions added to the pan.

Add 6 tablespoon tomato puree to the skillet and fry for 2-3 minutes

Tomato puree added to the pan.

Now add 1 teaspoon grated ginger and 1 teaspoon garam masala powder and cook for another 2 minutes.

Grated ginger and garam masala powder added to the pan.

Add the cooked and mashed dal to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes. Keep stirring at regular intervals. Add some water if the dal is too thick and bring it to a boil.

Note – You can discard the dry red chilies and bay leaves at this stage if you wish to.

Cooked lentils added to the pan.

Add 2 tablespoon butter and ¼ cup heavy cream and cook for 2 minutes. Check for salt.

Butter and heavy cream added to the pan.

Add 1 tablespoon crushed Kasuri methi and cook for another minute.

Kasuri methi added to the pan.

Garnish with heavy cream swirls and chopped cilantro and serve!

Ready dal makhani.

Smoke The Lentils (Optional)

Once the dal is ready, you can serve it right away or give it a Dhungar, that is infusing it with a smoky flavor.

Heat a piece of coal or a cinnamon stick over direct flame until it is red hot. Keep a bowl in the center of the skillet with the dal and keep the hot coal in the bowl. Drizzle a few teaspoon of oil over the coal and immediately close the lid of the skillet. Let the dal absorb the smoke for 10 minutes. Open the lid, discard the coal and remove the bowl. Heat the dal once again and serve.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make vegan dal makhani?

You can make a vegan version of this dal by substituting ghee and butter with oil and yogurt and cream with cashew cream.

Just blend some cashew nuts with water to make a smooth paste. Use this paste in place of heavy cream.

How to make dal makhani without onion and garlic?

Just skip adding onion and garlic to the recipe and keep the rest of the steps the same. I have a Jain Dal Makhani Recipe on the blog so do check it out.

Serving Suggestions

You can serve dal makhani with Phulka, Plain Tawa Paratha, Lachha Paratha, Naan, Garlic Naan, Tandoori Roti, or any other bread you prefer.

It also tastes great with Steamed Rice, Jeera Rice, or any slightly spiced pulao such as Peas Pulao or Ghee Rice

Dal Makani is best served the next day after it’s made. So try to make it a day before you want to serve it for the maximum flavor. I also serve Sirka Pyaz to perk up my Indian meals.

Storage Suggestions

Dal makhani can be stored in a clean and dry airtight container in the refrigerator for about 4 to 5 days. Reheat in a pan or microwave-safe bowl, until nice and hot.

In case it becomes a little thick after refrigerating, add a little hot water and adjust the consistency.

It is freezer-friendly too. Freeze it for up to 3 months in freezer-safe containers. Just thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for 3-4 hours over the counter, heat, and serve.

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Rich, creamy, buttery, and smoky, Dal Makhani is a very popular North Indian lentil dish made using black lentils, lots of butter, and mild spices. Serve it with naan or jeera rice for an unforgettable meal!
4.24 from 30 votes

Dal Makhani Recipe

Rich, creamy, buttery, and smoky, Dal Makhani is a very popular North Indian lentil dish made using black lentils, lots of butter, and mild spices. Serve it with naan or jeera rice for an unforgettable meal!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients 

To Cook The Lentils

  • ½ cup whole black lentils (kali urad)
  • 1 tablespoon Bengal gram (chana dal) (optional)
  • ¼ cup red kidney beans (rajma)
  • 4 tablespoons ghee (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt

To Temper The Lentils

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole green cardamoms
  • 2 whole black cardamoms
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 whole black peppercorns
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2-3 whole dry red chilies
  • 1 cup grated onions
  • 6 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Kasuri methi
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Instructions 

Preparation

  • Wash whole black lentils, Bengal gram, and Red Kidney Beans with water and soak them together or separately in 3-4 cups of water for 8-10 hours or overnight.

Cooking The Lentils In An Instant Pot

  • Wash the soaked lentils once again and drain them well.
  • Add them to the instant pot along with 2 tablespoon ghee, ginger garlic paste, Kashmiri red chili powder, cumin powder, and 2 teaspoon salt.
  • Add 3 cups of water and close the lid.
  • Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 25 minutes on HIGH PRESSURE. The instant pot will take some time to build the pressure and the timer to start. Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure manually by moving the vent to the venting position. Use a spoon to move the vent to prevent steam burn off the fingers.
  • Open the lid and mash the dal with the back of a ladle until creamy. Set aside.

Cooking The Lentils In Indian Pressure Cooker

  • Wash the soaked lentils once again and drain them well.
  • Add them to a pressure cooker along with 2 tablespoon ghee, ginger garlic paste, Kashmiri red chili powder, cumin powder, and 2 teaspoon salt.
  • Add 4 cups of water and close the lid.
  • Pressure cook for 1 whistle on high heat. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally. Then open the lid.
  • Mash the dal with the back of a ladle or a potato masher until it is creamy. Set aside.

Tempering The Cooked Lentils

  • Heat 2 tablespoon ghee in a skillet over high heat.
  • While the ghee is heating, lightly crush green cardamoms, black cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, and black peppercorns in a mortar and pestle.
  • When the ghee is hot, add the crushed whole spices, bay leaves, and dry red chilies to the skillet and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
  • Add onions and fry till they are lightly browned (8-10 minutes).
  • Add tomato puree to the skillet and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Now add ginger and garam masala powder and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the cooked and mashed dal to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes. Keep stirring at regular intervals. Add some water if the dal is too thick and bring it to a boil.
  • You can discard the dry red chilies and bay leaves at this stage if you wish to.
  • Add butter and heavy cream and cook for 2 minutes. Check for salt.
  • Add Kasuri methi and cook for another minute.
  • Garnish with heavy cream swirls and chopped cilantro and serve!

Smoke The Lentils (Optional)

  • Once the dal is ready, you can serve it right away or give it a Dhungar, that is infusing it with a smoky flavor.
  • Heat a piece of coal or a cinnamon stick over direct flame until it is red hot. Keep a bowl in the center of the skillet with the dal and keep the hot coal in the bowl. Drizzle a few teaspoon of oil over the coal and immediately close the lid of the skillet. Let the dal absorb the smoke for 10 minutes. Open the lid, discard the coal and remove the bowl. Heat the dal once again and serve.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled or even halved.

Nutrition

Calories: 258kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 49mg, Sodium: 58mg, Potassium: 213mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 480IU, Vitamin C: 4.8mg, Calcium: 39mg, Iron: 2.4mg
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Recipe Rating




35 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The rich, creamy texture and authentic flavors make it taste just like the one from a restaurant.

  2. 4 stars
    You don’t list the Garam Masala in the recipe on the top of the post, only the bottom. Hence I completely missed adding it. I only realized this at the end while tasting after cooking it all day.

    1. Hi Matt, I just checked the posts and it’s mentioned everywhere. Anyways, You can add garam masala at any point. Even when the dal is ready. Just add it and mix well.

  3. 5 stars
    The recipe indicates cumin powder but there is NO mention of cumin seeds used at the start of this recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    Hey Neha
    I have made this recipe 5-6 times by now and my guests and family just loved it Thank you so.much for giving this authentic recipe.????????