Dal Makhani is the hearty, creamy, mildly flavoured Indian dal recipe. It’s buttery texture simply melts in the mouth. Hence, it is just perfect to dip naan or serve as a main-dish with jeera rice. Both the combinations are equally decadent. This dal makhani recipe is simple, easy to follow and 100% gluten-free. Few basic everyday ingredients are enough to stir up a delicious Punjabi maa ki dal at home.
Over the years, Dal Makhani has become an inseparable part of Indian Cuisine. It is the most common lentil dish cooked in India. In the far west countries in midst of hot dogs and pancakes, this brown lentil curry is recognized as the flag bearer of the curry nation. The slightly dark brown thick dal loaded with tons of butter and cream to provide a superficial smooth texture, making it appealing for the commercial viability of the restaurant menus. But in reality, maa ki dal has much more depth and flavours then being tagged as the no substance brown curry.
To be honest there are no remarkable imprints of Dal Makhani in my food memoirs of childhood. In our Kumaoni household, it was considered a fancy Punjabi delicacy prepared once in a blue moon in the honour of some exquisite guests. Or one of my aunt, settled in Delhi, would take pride in cooking and serving makhani dal, whenever we visit her over the holidays. But her Dal Makhani has also not left much of a long-lasting tales in my taste buds. That was my brief introduction to this most popular Indian dal.
Then marriage into the Sikh family presented a whole new perspective about maa ki dal and rajma masala. The balance of spices, the creamy texture and the whole fuss about the slow cooking process are the key steps in making a true Punjabi style maa ki dal or rajma masala. But if you would ask me, ‘ which is the better food between rajma and dal makhani?’ They both compete for the top slot in my favourite comfort food list. Any day I can trade fancy gourmet meal to enjoy a blissful meal of dal and rajma.
Which Dal Is Used In Dal Makhani?
The whole black lentils (sabut urad dal) is used in dal makhani. In Punjabi style maa ki dal, a combination of rajma (red kidney beans) and chana dal is also used. And for us, it is difficult to imagine maa ki dal without either of these two lentils. Usually, the ideal proportion of these three lentils in a perfect makhani dal is 1: 0.25: 0.25 i.e 1 Cup of whole black urad dal and 1/4 Cup of each rajma and chana dal.
How To Make Dal Makhani At Home?
First of all, you don’t need a plethora of ingredients to make best makhani dal at home. Though the dish is the literal transition of the word – buttery lentils. A ton of butter and cream are not required to get the desired creamy and buttery texture of the dal. The best result is achieved by simmering the dal over a low heat. A glass of full-fat milk is added to the simmering dal. Then the dal is cooked over medium flame till it reaches the thick consistency. A teaspoon of homemade coriander powder and a dash of garam masala sizzled with hot ghee provides the required taste profile to the dal. A simple swirl of cream in the end to garnish is sufficient to make it look tempting enough.
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The recipe as said is fuss-free and no tomato puree/butter/cream/ are used to make it flavoursome. Still, I bet once you give it a try it will become your favourite makhani dal recipe.
Seems like makhani dal is not a 30-minute meal. Traditionally, it is slow cooked overnight over the wooden fire. However, using a pressure cooker to cook the dal reduces the cooking time to almost half the original time suggested in conventional recipes. Therefore, I don’t plan maa ki dal on busy weekdays for dinner. It is a kind of leisure meal in our house. That requires time both to cook and relish. Usually, prepared over the weekend or for elaborate Indian dinner parties. Or during the days, when I am in a mood for cooking a delicious combination of homemade Punjabi style maa ki dal with naan for dinner.
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Dal Makhani Recipe
- 1 Cup Whole black urad dal
- 1/4 Cup red kidney beans (rajma)
- 1/4 Cup chana dal
- 1 medium - size onion chopped
- 2 green chilli chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 Cup full fat milk
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
Ingredients For Tempering:
- 2 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
- a pinch of asafoetida (hing)
- 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
Ingredients For Garnishing:
- 1 tablespoon fresh cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Soak dal (lentils):
- To make Dal Makhani, first clean, rinse, soak urad dal and red kidney beans together for 6 hours or overnight in water. Soak chana dal for 1 hour in water. Once soaked drain all the lentils in a colander.
Pressure Cook Dal (lentils):
- Next in a pressure cooker (buy it here) add the drained lentils along with chopped onion, chilli, grated ginger, salt, and mustard oil. Stir to combine. Add approximately 4 cups of water. Close the lid of the pressure cooker. Put the weight on of pressure cooker.
- Let the lentils cook in pressure cooker over medium heat for 2 – 3 whistles. Turn off the heat. Once the steam releases naturally from the pressure cooker, open the lid and add milk. Stir to combine, once again close the pressure cooker, put the weight on and cook the lentil over medium heat.
- Usually, if lentils are well soaked then cooking will not take more than 3 – 4 whistles after adding milk but it may vary depending on the quality of the lentils. Once lentils are cooked, turn off the heat. Let the steam release naturally from the pressure cooker. Open the lid and gently whisk the lentils using back of the ladle.
Prepare Tempering For Dal:
- To temper the dal, heat ghee in a small pan over low heat. Add garam masala asafoetida and coriander powder. Stir to combine and turn off the heat. Pour this hot tempering over the dal. Mix nicely to evenly combine the tempering in the dal.
- Now let the dal simmer over low heat for few minutes to get the desired consistency, if the dal seems too thick add little more milk, mix and simmer for few minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Transfer the Dal Makhani to a serving bowl. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and cream (optional). You can use ginger and green chilli slices as well for garnishing.
- Serve Dal Makhani warm with Naan.