Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani is one of the most popular lentil dishes from the northern part of India. Dal translates to pulses (lentils) while Makhani means with butter. Basically, you can call this dish buttery lentils! Yum! Another great part is that this can easily make it for vegans! This is a great dish to make in big batches so you can indulge for the rest of the week and don’t forget to share some with friends. This is one of the dishes from my childhood that still melts my heart. Forget going out to an Indian restaurant to enjoy a bowl of delicious Dal Makhani. You can have rich, creamy, piping hot, mouth watering bowl of dal at home and enjoy it with naan, roti, or rice right at home!

Traditionally, Dal Makhani is a labor of love. It is slow cooked for hours on hot coals, usually overnight till the dal breaks down on its own to a buttery, creamy consistency. Thanks to the instant pot and slow cookers, we can make these delicious dishes a tad bit stress free! Over the years of cooking, I have tested out many versions of this recipe which will give you the same flavors and consistency but with less than half the time when it comes to traditional recipe. I will share with you my favorite ways of cooking this dish which is quick and does not require much effort from start to finish.

If you are skeptical about trying this, make sure to order it next time when you are at an Indian restaurant. Also, make sure its Dal Makhani and not Dal Bukhara. I know many think it’s the same thing, however there is one big difference between the two. The main difference between the two is the types of lentils: Dal Makhani has black lentils along with kidney beans versus Dal Bukhara is primarily made with black lentils. Even though it looks the same and has similar rich creamy flavors, they are quite a bit different in texture and taste!

Whether you are a diehard Dal Makhani fan or newbie to this recipe, you really should try it! It is just insanely good and really like no other dal or lentil soup! 

Serves [4-5]

[Calories 300, Fat 4g, Carbs 38g, Fiber 13g, Protein 15g]

If you did not know how these lentils look like, these are pictures of two main lentils used to make this dish.

Ingredients

1 cup urad dal (black lentils) – soak overnight

½ cup rajma (kidney beans)

2 tbsp of olive oil

1 tbsp of butter

1 bay leaf

1 inch cinnamon stick

2 cardamom pods

2 cloves

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped tomato

2-3 green chilies finely chopped

2-3 cups of water

1 cup of milk (slow cook method)

1 tbsp ginger paste

1 tbsp garlic paste

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin coriander powder

1-2 tbsp Kashmiri red chili paste

1-2 tsp salt (adjust to taste)

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp chili powder

1-2 tbsp heavy cream – for garnishing – optional

1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek)

Finely chopped cilantro for garnishing

Method

I have two methods of making this dish. Most of the time I know when I am making this dish and like to slow cook on my instant pot over night to get the ultimate creamy rich taste in the dal for lunch the next day. So far the slow cook one is my favorite, since I just pressure cook the dal and add my tadka and let the instant pot do its thing and next day my dal is ready for lunch. 

Prep – Soak the lentils in the cold water for 4 hours or overnight. Drain, rinse and set aside. For best texture, I would suggest soaking for at least 4 hours. To get the perfect restaurant style red color in dal, you can soak the Kashmiri red chilies in water for 20-30 minutes and grind into a paste. Set it aside, you will add this later along during tadka. These chilis are not spicy, they are added for the color.

Vegan- Skip the butter and milk. Replace with oil of choice and coconut cream.

Sometimes we want or need delicious recipes done even faster and that’s when I recommend my instant method, which I use when I am in a bind or have last minute plans.

Instant method

Turn on the instant pot. Press the saute button on the instant pot, add the oil and allow it to heat up for 1-2 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and once they start to change color, add clove, cinnamon stick, cardamom, and bay leaf. Mix well, add in chopped onions. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes or until the onions begin to golden. Add chilies, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, spices, kashmiri red chili paste, and salt. Cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the tomatoes break down.

Add the soaked lentils or if not soaked than add only black lentils to the pot along with the water. Stir well, close the lid and valve to seal. Cook for 30 minutes at high pressure. Allow the pressure release naturally. Stir the dal well. If needed, add ½-1 cup of water to get the desired consistency. Add kasturi methi, butter and stir well. Garnish your dal with chopped cilantro and drizzle fresh cream. You Dal Makhani is ready! Serve hot with rice, roti, or naan.

Overnight method – my favorite method

For this method, I still follow the same prep which is soaking the lentils for at least 4 hours prior to cooking. I add the pre-soaked lentils and water in the instant pot. Close the lid and turn the valve to seal. Turn on the instant pot on manual and set it for 10 minutes on high pressure. After done cooking, let the pressure release naturally. Open the lid and add milk and half of the water. Mix thoroughly until milk and water becomes uniform to the cooked lentils. Turn off the instant pot. Remove the lentils in another pot.

At this point, I usually wash the same insert pan or use another one. Turn on the instant pot to saute mode, add oil and allow it to heat up for 1-2 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and once they start to change color, add clove, cinnamon stick, cardamom, and bay leaf. Mix well, add in chopped onions. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes or until the onions begin to golden. Add chilies, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, spices, Kashmiri red chili paste, and salt. Cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the tomatoes break down. Add cooked dal mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the rest of the water left. If needed, add another cup of water to get desired consistency.

Turn the instant pot setting to slow cook and cook for the next 12 hours in normal setting. Close the lid and valve to seal. When you wake up the next day, your Dal Makhani will be rich and creamy waiting for you to be served. You will not need to add any cream since the overnight cooking process makes it very rich! Add kasturi methi, butter and stir well. Garnish your dal with chopped cilantro and drizzle fresh cream. I usually skip the fresh cream for us at home since it’s already so rich to begin with. Serve hot with rice, roti, or naan. 

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