Dal Makhani is a vegetarian lentil recipe. I am sharing an Indian restaurant-style makhani dal recipe with a perfectly creamy buttery texture.
Story Of Dal Makhani
Over the years, Dal Makhani has become an inseparable part of modern Indian Cuisine. Outside India, it is considered the flag bearer of rich and indulgent vegetarian Indian food.
While researching for my debut cookbook, The 100 Best Curries, I learnt that the dal makhani recipe existed during the British Raj era.
The renowned chef of the Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi wanted to create a vegetarian counterpart to the already famous butter chicken or murgh makhani. Hence, he developed a creamy, rich, indulgent makhani dal for vegetarians.
Honestly, there are no remarkable imprints of Dal Makhani in my food memoirs of childhood. In our Kumaoni household, it was considered a fancy, restaurant-style Punjabi dish that nobody in my family knew how to make.
Then marriage to the Sikh family presented a new perspective on Punjabi dishes like chana masala, makhani dal, missa paratha, chitt, and rajma chawal.
My Dal Makhani Recipe
When I say restaurant style, I mean a melt-in-mouth, mildly spicy, slow-cooked makhani dal with a tempting aroma of spices.
This is NOT a family heirloom recipe. I have worked over the years to get the dal makhani’s perfect taste and texture. Hence, I can confidently say that this is a tried and tested restaurant-style dal makhani recipe.
Let me clarify, makhani dal is not a 30-minute meal. Traditionally, it is slow-cooked for a few hours or overnight. Therefore, I make it only over the weekends. It is a kind of leisure meal in our house. That requires time both to cook and relish.
Which dal is used in Dal Makhani?
The black lentil (sabut urad or the kaali urad) is used in dal makhani. It is combined with rajma (red kidney beans) and chana dal (Bengal gram or dried split chickpeas).
I would not recommend using only black urad. Each lentil adds to the makhani dal’s taste, texture, and consistency.
Usually, the ideal proportion of these three lentils in a perfect makhani dal is 1:¼:1/4, i.e. 1 Cup of black urad dal and ¼ Cup of each rajma and chana dal.
Other Ingredients Required
- Cooking Oil: I use ghee to cook makhani dal and add butter while serving. You can use butter or flavourless refined vegetable oil for cooking the dal.
- Onion is the holy grail of this dal recipe.
- Tomato: Use either freshly chopped ripe tomato or canned crushed tomato.
- Tomato Paste: It gives a sweet taste to the dal. Substitute tomato paste with sweet tomato ketchup in equal quantities.
- Whole Spices: Bay Leaf (tej patta), Cloves (laung), Black Cardamom (elaichi), Cumin (jeera), Dried Fenugreek Leaves
- Spice Powder: Turmeric Powder, Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder, Coriander Powder, Garam Masala Powder, Asafoetida (hing)
- Cream: Use light cooking cream with around 25% fat, not heavy or whipping cream. You can substitute cream with full-fat milk, also.
- Herbs & Seasoning: Green Chilli, Ginger, Fresh Coriander, Ginger & Garlic Paste, Salt
- Garnish: Fresh Coriander, Cream or Butter, Ginger Juliennes
How To Make
Step 1) Combine all three lentils in a bowl. Rinse them with water 2 – 3 times or until water runs clear. Soak them in clean water for 5 – 6 hours or overnight.
Step 2) After soaking, pressure cook the lentils. Transfer soaked lentils to a pressure cooker. Add salt, cardamom, bay leaf, cloves, asafoetida, and water. Stir to combine. Pressure Cook lentils over low for 5 – 6 whistles. We want them to break down completely.
Step 3) Now, let’s make tadka for dal. Heat ghee in a kadhai or heavy-duty casserole. Add cumin, and saute for 10 – 20 seconds. Add finely chopped onion and fry till onion turn light golden.
Step 4) Once the onion is nicely fried, add ginger and garlic paste, chopped tomato, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, and coriander powder. Fry for 5 – 6 minutes over low heat. The oil should start separating from the masala, and the tomatoes break down completely.
Step 5) Add tomato paste or ketchup and pressure-cooked dal. Stir to combine. At this stage, if you feel the dal is way too thick, get desired consistency by adding water, as after simmering, it tends to become thicker.
Step 6) Add cream, Garam Masala powder, kasuri methi, sliced green chillies, julienned ginger, and fresh coriander. Mix nicely. Taste, and if required, add more salt and seasoning.
Step 7) Now allow the dal to simmer over low heat, stirring at regular intervals for 10 – 15 minutes. This step gives a deep, slow-cooked-like flavour to the dal.
Garnish dal with cream, chopped coriander leaves, and ginger julienned. Dal Makhani is ready to serve.
Dal Makhani is an Indian main course dish. Serve it with Indian side dishes like naan, paratha, tandoori roti, and chapati. Dal Makhani tastes delicious with rice dishes like jeera rice or matar pulao. You can serve it with plain basmati rice also.
I like to serve makhani dal in my Indian thali with chilled boondi raita, kachumber salad, tandoori roti, and extra homemade white butter on the side.
Dal Makhani is a meal prep-friendly main course dish. After cooking, let it cool down completely and then transfer to airtight containers. Store for 6 to 7 days in the refrigerator.
It is best to reheat makhani dal in a pan. It becomes thick after a few hours or days of cooking. Hence, adding water, milk, or cream while reheating the dal is best for the desired consistency.
My Tried and True Tips
You cannot make a good makhani dal without soaking the lentils. Soaking them in water increases their size, they break down easily while cooking, and absorb the flavour of the masala nicely.
The flavour of dal makhani is the perfect balance of spicy, sweet, warm, and earthy. Hence, do not add too much chilli powder, green chillies, or Garam Masala.
It is a BIG MYTH that too much butter, cream, and ghee will give you the best makhani dal. The slow simmering process gives the creamy, luscious texture and not the overload of dairy.
If you are after that restaurant-style taste, do not skip adding TOMATO PASTE and Kasuri Methi. These two are game-changing ingredients.
If you like smokey/tandoori-style flavour, keep a small stainless steel bowl in the centre of the dal. Add hot live pieces of coal to the small bowl. Immediately drizzle hot ghee over the coal pieces to create smoke. Cover the dal bowl with a lid. Let the smoke engulf the entire bowl for 5 – 6 minutes. Open the lid, remove the bowl with the coal, stir the dal and serve.
More Indian Dal Recipes
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter or follow us on Youtube for video recipes.
If you try this recipe and love it, please leave a comment and a rating. This helps us grow and reach other food lovers like you.
Dal Makhani Recipe
- Heavy Bottom Kadhai
Ingredients For Pressure Cooking
- 1 Cup (200 gram) whole black urad dal (sabut urad)
- ¼ Cup (50 gram) red kidney beans (rajma)
- ¼ Cup (50 gram) Bengal gram (chana dal)
- 2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon hing (asafoetida)
- 1 bay leaf (tej patta)
- 1 black cardamom (badi elaichi)
- 4 cloves (laung)
- 6 Cup (1.4 litre) water
Ingredients For Tadka
- 4 tablespoon ghee or cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 Cup finely chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste (see recipe)
- 1 Cup finely chopped tomato
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste or tomato ketchup
- 2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala powder (see recipe)
- 4 tablespoon light cooking cream
- 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
- 2 green chillies, sliced
Ingredients For Garnish
- 1 tablespoon light cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
- Combine all three lentils in a bowl. Rinse them with water 2 – 3 times or until water runs clear. Soak them in clean water for 5 – 6 hours or overnight.
Pressure Cook Dal (lentils):
- Transfer soaked lentils to a pressure cooker. Add salt, cardamom, bay leaf, cloves, asafoetida, and 4 cups of water. Stir to combine. Pressure Cook lentils over low for 5 – 6 whistles. We want them to break down completely. Allow the steam to release naturally.
- Open the lid and gently mash the dal using the back of the spoon or a vegetable masher.
Prepare Tadka For Dal:
- Heat ghee in a kadhai or heavy-duty casserole. Add cumin, and saute for 10 – 20 seconds. Add finely chopped onion and fry till onion turn light golden.
- Once the onion is nicely fried, add ginger and garlic paste, chopped tomato, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, and coriander powder. Fry for 5 – 6 minutes over low heat. The oil should start separating from the masala, and the tomatoes break down completely.
- Add tomato paste or ketchup and pressure-cooked dal. Stir to combine. At this stage, if you feel the dal is way too thick, get desired consistency by adding the remaining 2 cups of water, as after simmering, it tends to become thicker.
- Add cream, Garam Masala powder, kasuri methi, sliced green chillies, julienned ginger, and fresh coriander. Mix nicely. Taste, and if required, add more salt and seasoning.
- Now allow the dal to simmer over low heat, stirring at regular intervals for 10 – 15 minutes. This step gives a deep, slow-cooked-like flavour to the dal.
- 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. Add a dollop of butter on top before serving.
- Serve Dal Makhani warm with Naan.
- Dal Makhani can also be prepared in a slow – cooker or instant pot. You can find detailed instant pot dal makhani recipe in my debut cookbook.
- Get the desired consistency of dal makhani by adjusting the amount of water.
- While soaking the lentils, use a bigger bowl and add enough water because lentils absorb all the water and expand in size during the process.
Alok Singhal says
Looks so very tempting…i love this Recipe!
U K says
Fantastic clicks.. 🙂
First time stopping at ur space.. good to know urs.. u have amazing collectives and the blog is well designed too… coming to recipe, its my all time fav. Lovely ur version. Keep rocking ya..
Wow, It’s my favorite dish and I think that every Indian would love to eat it. All ingredients used in making this are natural and we can easily buy these ingredients through online stores like Paytm Mall official website
my helmets guide says
i am a food lover and thanks for the beautiful pics
Hina Gujral says
Stay tuned with us for more such foodporn 😛
While cooking the Daal, u have mentioned Mustard oil to be added along with the lentils in the cooker. What is the qty.
Hina Gujral says
1 – 2 tablespoon mustard oil. Or you can add ghee in the same quantity.
This my favorite dish and i cooked it for me and my family
Hina Gujral says
Thank you so much!
Wow its yamm..i love it
Thank you for the recipe, Hina! My dal turned out quite pale in color, any idea why that is? I didn’t have the kidney beans, but not sure if that’s the reason the milk really took over the color :/
Hina Gujral says
Usually, the colour of dal makhani is pale because of milk. Try using Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder for a bright color. And yes at times, the red kidney beans also give a bright color to the dal. Please do follow these tips in your next trial.
Can you use Urad Split?
Hina Gujral says
No Dal Makhani is made with only whole black urad and nit split or skinned.