Here's the ultimate recipe for buttery and luscious Dal Makhani. This dal is usually made with black urad dal and kidney beans (rajma), and today I'm showing you how to make this dal on the stovetop, traditional pressure cooker and an instant pot. All three methods will give you the perfect dal makhani!
Here's the thing with super popular recipes. Everyone loves it and everyone has a particular taste that they look for in the recipe. And I'm hoping to do the unthinkable today and try and win everyone over with this simple recipe!
Traditionally, dal makhani is a labour of love, slow cooked for hours on hot coals, usually overnight till the dal breaks down on its own to a buttery, creamy consistency. But we don't have that kind of time do we? We have to get to work, send kids to school and get some Netflix time in between.
So I decided to test out versions of this recipe which will give you the same flavors and the same consistency but with less than half the time. It's still a slightly long process so I recommend saving this one for the weekend and taking it on as a project. Make a big pot so that you can indulge for the rest of the week, and make extras so you can share this with neighbours - trust me, this dal makhani will win you all the brownie points!
This recipe takes up to two hours to make, but don't let that put you off, because most of that is hands off time. It's just the time we need to give for the lentils to break down, for the flavors to mingle, and for things to reach a point where you can smell the deliciousness.
Pick the right dals (lentils) for Dal Makhani
Dal Makhani is traditionally made with whole black urad dal (black lentils) and rajma (kidney beans). There are many recipes which will tell you otherwise, and ask you to use any lentils available to you. But if you are taking the effort to make something like this, its worth an extra trip to the store to buy the right ingredients for this recipe. If you stay in the U.S. or outside India, all Indian grocery stores carry these lentils.
Using canned beans for Dal Makhani
You might be able to get your hands on cooked and canned kidney beans, but you'll still have to cook the whole black urad dal from scratch. Cooking the kidney beans along with the other lentil, also helps marry the flavors better. Using canned kidney beans won't cut down the time in this recipe, and it'll probably cost you more, so I recommend using dry lentils that you cook from scratch.
Can Dal Makhani be made Vegan?
The traditional recipe uses a ton of butter and ghee which also lends it the creaminess. But if you are vegan or lactose intolerant, you can still enjoy this dal. Use ¼ cup cashew cream while simmering the dal, and ¼ cup coconut milk in the end. The coconut milk might add a milk coconut-ty flavor, but the quantity is so small that you'll barely notice it.
I'm sure you've noticed that restaurant style dal makhani usually has a distinct smokiness to it and you can easily recreate it at home. You just need a small piece of charcoal (or lump charcoal as its called in the U.S.) and either oil or ghee. Right in the end, when the dal is ready, heat up the piece of charcoal on an open flame or grill and place it in a small heat proof bowl. Pour a tablespoon of ghee or oil in the bowl, and you'll immediately hear a sizzle and smoke coming out. Place the bowl in the middle of the pot and cover it. The smoke from the bowl will smoke the dal makhani and give it the distinct smoky aroma that we all love so much!
I also have a slow cooker dal makhani recipe on the site that you can check out, but cooking this recipe in a pressure cooker really cuts down the time and effort!
Other Indulgent Indian Recipes for you:
Watch How to make Dal Makhani Recipe Video
Dal Makhani - The Ultimate Recipe! for Stovetop, Pressure Cooker and Instant Pot
- Slow Cooker
- 1 cup Black Whole Urad Dal (whole Black Gram Lentils)
- ¼ cup Rajma (Kidney Beans)
- 4 cups Water
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 3 tablespoons Ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 inch Cinnamon Stick
- 4-5 Cloves
- 2-3 Cardamom Pods
- 1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
- 3 Green Chillies finely chopped (or use Serrano Peppers)
- 1 large Onion finely chopped
- 4 Tomatoes coarsely blended
- 1 ½ teaspoon Red Chilli Powder (or Paprika)
- 1 ½ teaspoon Salt divided
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
- ¼ cup Heavy Cream
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 2 tablespoons Kasuri Methi dried Fenugreek, roasted
- More cream for topping
Smoking Dal Makhani:
- 1 piece Charcoal or lumpcoal
- 1 tablespoon Oil
- Soak urad dal (black gram) and rajma (kidney beans) in enough water that there is an inch over, for at least 8 hours.
Stovetop Dal Makhani:
- Drain the water from the soaked lentils and add them to a pot with ¼ teaspoon salt and 4 cups water. Bring this to a boil and then reduce the flame to a simmer. Cover and cook for an hour till the beans can be easily smashed between your fingers. Alternatively, you can cook it in a pressure cooker for about 6-8 whistles. Ensure that the dal is completely submerged in water and there is at least an inch of extra water above the dal.
- Once the beans are cooked, lightly smash them with a potato masher, making sure to leave them partially intact.
- Heat ghee in a pot and add bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Saute them for a minute or two till you can smell the spices and add ginger garlic paste, green chilli and onions to the pot. Cook this till the onions turn translucent.
- Add the tomatoes (blended), red chilli powder, salt and garam masala. Cook till the tomatoes are mushy, and add the cooked lentils with 1 cup water. Bring this to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or till the dal has thickened, making sure to stir occasionally because the dal tends to stick to the bottom.
- Mix in the heavy cream, butter and kasuri methi. Switch off the flame and let the dal makhani rest for 15 minutes before serving, topped with more cream. Dal Makhani is ideally made the previous day to let the flavors mingle.
Traditional Pressure Cooker Dal Makhani:
- Heat ghee in the pressure cooker and add bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Saute the spices for two minutes till you start smelling them.
- Add ginger garlic paste, green chillies and onion. Saute till the onions become translucent. Add tomatoes, chilli powder, salt and garam masala. Cook the tomatoes till they become mushy.
- Drain water from the lentils and add them to the cooker along with four cups fresh water. Pressure cook for at least 45 minutes or 8-10 whistles. Let pressure release naturally.
- Open the lid, and mash the lentils partially with a potato masher. Simmer the dal for another 20 minutes till it thickens up.
- Mix in the heavy cream, butter and kasuri methi. Let the dal sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Instant Pot Dal Makhani:
- Switch on the saute function and add ghee, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Saute the spices for two minutes till you start smelling them.
- Add garlic, ginger, green chillies and onion. Saute till the onions become translucent. Add tomatoes, chilli powder, salt and garam masala. Cook the tomatoes till they become mushy.
- Drain water from the lentils and add them to the pot along with three cups fresh water. Cancel the saute function and turn on the pressure cook or manual function. Set the timer for 45 minutes and pressure cook on high. Release the pressure manually after 10 minutes, or let the pressure release naturally.
- Open the lid, and mash the lentils partially with a potato masher. Switch on the saute function and simmer for 20 more minutes, stirring once or twice to avoid the dal from sticking to the bottom. The dal will start to thicken as it simmers.
- Mix in the heavy cream, butter and kasuri methi. Switch to keep warm mode, and let the dal sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Smoking Dal Makhani
- To smoke dal makhani, start by heating the charcoal till its red on an open flame or grill. Place a heat proof bowl in the middle of the pot of dal makhani and place the hot coal in it. Pour oil on the coal and cover the entire pot with a lid. Let the lid be covered for 5-10 minutes to smoke the dal.
- Whole urad dal (black gram) and rajma (kidney beans) are easily available at Indian stores
- Kasuri Methi is dried fenugreek leaves that help round up the flavors in the dal makhani. Its available on amazon, and is used in many Indian recipes (on this blog), so stocking it won't be a waste
- Don't skimp on the cream and butter in the recipe. These give the dal makhani its distinct texture and flavor
- Feel free to adjust the spice levels based on your tastes by reducing the green chillies
This recipe was first published on August 23, 2018 and updated on February 18, 2021 with a new video and pictures and no changes to the recipe