Dal makhani is curried Indian black lentils and kidney beans cooked in tomatoes, spices, butter and cream. Smooth, creamy and intensely flavorful!
Dal: lentils. Makhani: buttery. Buttery Lentils is what this dish is, translated.
If you like North Indian food and you haven’t tried dal makhani (unlikely!), you are seriously missing out on a gem of Punjabi cuisine. I mean, seriously.
I can’t remember where or when I had it first, but I do have lots of memories of tucking into it, not at home, but at restaurants and weddings. However, ever since I learnt how to make it myself, I rarely have it outside. The reason? I don’t like overly spicy dal! In the restaurant version, they add a ready-made dal makhani masala which I find too overpowering. Plus, it gives me heartburn. I make a milder version at home, and you can have bowlfuls of it without feeling the heat.
The buttery, creamy taste of dal lingers in your mouth long after you’ve eaten it. At one time I was so addicted, I used to refuse dessert just because I didn’t want that wonderful taste in my mouth to disappear. How weird is that?
In this post, I’m going to share with you a few different methods of making an authentic Punjabi dal makhani recipe. Choose the one you like!
Dal Makhani Ingredients
- Black Lentils (Whole urad dal)
- Kidney Beans
- Ground spices – coriander, red chilli powder, turmeric and garam masala
- Cilantro leaves
INSTANT POT DAL MAKHANI (Easy dal makhani recipe)
Traditionally, dal makhni is made on a slow wood fire and simmered for hours to get that rich taste. However, since I don’t have hours to spare in the kitchen or the means to get a wood fire started (and neither do you I suspect), I pressure cook it. It still tastes fantastic, I promise.
Making the lentils is ridiculously easy in the instant pot. It is a one-pot dump and go recipe made in just four simple steps:
Soak the lentils
Wash and soak black lentils and red kidney beans in water and leave overnight.
Make the wet masala
Chop the onion, ginger, garlic and tomato roughly and put in a blender with a half a cup water. Blend to get a smooth puree.
Whether you are using an instant pot or a stove-top pressure cooker, the method is the same: drain the soaked lentils and put them in the cooker. Add onion-ginger-garlic paste, pureed tomatoes and spices like red chilli powder, turmeric, coriander, garam masala and salt. Add water and set it to cook for 35 minutes. When the cooker opens (10 minutes QPR), change the setting to saute.
Add butter and cream
This is what makes this humble dal so interesting. Add butter, followed by the cream and cook again for 5 minutes. Add some chopped cilantro and mix.
It’s that straightforward. Delicious dal makhani is ready. Yay for instant pot lentils!
Dal Makhani Dhaba Style (Slow Cooker Dal Makhani)
Dhaba style dal makhani is slow cooked all night over a wood fire and tempered with ghee. This gives it a very earthy taste with wonderful, smoky overtones. If you want this restaurant style dal makhani, there are a few simple hacks that work beautifully. Here’s what to do –
- Cook the lentils in a slow cooker – Add the soaked lentils and beans to the slow cooker along with all the other ingredients – onion-ginger-garlic-tomato puree, ground spices and salt. Add 4 cups water and cook for 12 hours on low.
- Temper the dal with pure ghee – open the cooker and pour hot ghee on the dal.
- Cut back on the cream – dal makhani cooked in a slow cooker is already very creamy. There is no need to add a lot of cream. If you absolutely must add some, swirl a tablespoon on top when the dal is ready to be served.
- Smoke it with a piece of charcoal – Heat a piece of charcoal until it is smoking hot and glowing. Keep it in a small bowl and place this bowl over the dal. Drizzle a teaspoonful of butter or ghee on the charcoal and immediately place a lid over the dal. Let the dal absorb the smoke for minutes. Remove the lid and serve hot.
Vegan Dal Makhani
If you are not into butter or cream, it is very easy to make your dal makhani vegan. Open a can of coconut milk and scoop out the cream at the top. Add this to the dal when it is cooked and you have a creamy, luscious dal ready. No compromise on the taste either.
Other choices – vegan butter or cashew paste work well too.
Why this recipe works
1. It is a hands-off, one-pot recipe with just a couple of easy prep steps. No grunt work required!
2. It is so customizable. Swap the ingredients depending on your taste and dietary habits. Swap the butter and cream for ghee or if you’re vegan, leave out all of these and use coconut cream, vegan butter or cashew paste.
3. The black lentils and kidney beans when combined with the tomato-ey puree creates a thick and luscious texture that is just wonderful.
Serve it with warm naan or rice, with salad on the side. It tastes great with both.
If you want to have a more elaborate meal, pair it with any of these dishes –
Your taste buds will do a happy dance!Print
Dal Makhani (Buttery, Curried Lentils)
Dal makhani is curried Indian black lentils and kidney beans cooked in tomatoes, spices, butter and cream. Smooth, rich and intensely flavorful!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 6 cups 1x
- Category: Brunch/Dinner
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Indian
- 1.5 cups black lentils
- 0.5 cup red kidney beans
- 1 medium onion, chopped roughly
- 1 inch piece ginger, peeled
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 big tomato, chopped roughly
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 0.5 tsp garam masala powder
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 0.25 cup heavy cream
- 1 sprig cilantro leaves
- salt, to taste
- Wash and soak the black lentils and kidney beans together in enough water to cover the lentils completely. Keep overnight. Drain the excess water when ready to cook.
- Put the onion, ginger, garlic and tomato in a blender along with half a cup water and whiz to get a wet masala.
- In a stove-top pressure cooker or instant pot, add the lentils. Tip in the wet masala followed by the powdered spices, salt and 4 cups of water. Pressure cook for 35 minutes.
- Release the pressure after 10 minutes, remove the lid and mash the dal slightly with the back of a large spoon. If making the dal in an instant pot, change to saute and add the butter and cream. Cook for 5 minutes and add cilantro leaves right at the end. Serve hot with warm naan or rice.
- Whole black lentils are also called black gram, sabut urad or sabut kaali maash. Easily available in Indian stores.
- Garam masala can also be found in Indian stores.
- It is best to soak the lentils and beans before cooking (6 hours minimum or overnight). I have not included the soaking time in the recipe.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 254.2
- Sugar: 1.5
- Sodium: 525.3 mg
- Fat: 10.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 6 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 3 g
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 30.1 g
- Fiber: 2.3 g
- Protein: 11.1 g
- Cholesterol: 29.1 mg
Keywords: dal makhani, Indian lentils recipe, lentils
Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!