Dal Makhani is a delicious, creamy lentil recipe from India. One of the most popular lentil recipes from North India, it can be enjoyed with Naan as well as rice.
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I just finished off reading the weather warning issued by the Meteorology Department of UAE and really happy. They are expecting a sudden drop in temperature due to strong northwesterly winds. Maybe now our light woolens can come out of the boxes for a few days.
I can see thick clouds over the magnificent Burj Khalifa from my window and today the wind is also cold so, I believe the prediction of the Meteorology department is correct.
To celebrate this precious news I am sharing the recipe of one of the most popular Indian lentils– Dal Makhani which means buttery lentil (Dal means lentil and Makkhan means butter). However, for my vegan readers, I will share the vegan notes too so that they can also enjoy this amazing recipe.
Origin of Dal Makhani
This recipe is originally from the Punjab region but is very popular in the entire India and also some other countries of the Indian subcontinent.
It's said that Kundan Lal Gujral, the founder of a very popular chain of Indian restaurants-Moti Mahal, invented this dish.
Though Urad dal was eaten before that too, Kundan Lal Gujral added the combination of tomatoes and cream to it which completely transformed the dal.
You will find this dal in almost every Indian buffet.
Traditional method of cooking
Traditionally, this dal was cooked for hours to get that perfect texture and creaminess. Some good restaurants and people living in the villages still follow that process.
My mother remembers how her grandmother used to put huge pots of dal on clay oven (chulha) in the morning itself when she wanted to make it for dinner. The dal used to simmer the whole day. In the evening their family used to enjoy it together with hot chapatis and lots of ghee (clarified butter), sitting around the fire.
We don’t have that luxury in the current time so most people use a pressure cooker or instant pot to make dal makhani.
Which lentil is used in this dish?
This dish is made with two main lentils – whole black lentil (urad dal) and red kidney bean (rajma) which are cooked with onions, tomatoes, garlic, spices and lots of butter and cream.
Avoid making this dish with canned lentils and the authentic taste comes only if you soak dried lentils and beans overnight and then cook them together on low flame for a long period.
How to serve?
The most popular way of enjoying this lentil is with Naan. However, it goes really well with Jeera rice too.
You can also serve it with roti or any other Indian bread or a rice dish.
How to make Vegan Dal Makhani?
- Though two of the key ingredients of this dish –butter and cream are not vegan, you can make it vegan also by using plant-based butter and milk.
- Never use coconut milk/ butter in this recipe. It will not go well with the flavors of the dish and make it too coconutty.
- I will recommend using unsweetened cashew milk/ cream. It will give the perfect creaminess to the lentil.
- After getting cooked perfectly, the lentil also becomes very creamy so you don’t need to worry too much about skipping the butter. It will taste great even without it. If you don’t want to use vegan butter skip it but don’t skip adding vegan milk/ cream.
Step by step photo instructions
- 3/4 cup dried whole black lentil sabut urad ki dal
- 1/4 cup dried kidney beans
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes grind to make a paste
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 tbsp ready made tomato paste
- 1/2 tbsp garlic paste
- 1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small piece of cinnamon stick
- 2-3 cloves
- 3-4 black peppercorns
- 2 black whole cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves powder kasoori methi
- 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- Salt as per taste
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1 tbsp ghee/ butter / vegetabe oil
- cream optional
- Chopped coriander leaves
- Wash the lentil and red kidney beans and cover with water. Let them soak in water for at least 7-8 hours or overnight.
- After 8 hours rinse them again, put in a pressure cooker with around 4 cups water. Add salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon stick, black cardamom and chopped ginger to it. Cook on medium heat till 5-6 whistles.
- Take around one 2 ladles of the cooked lentil in a grinder and make a paste. Keep it aside.
- Heat butter in a pan. Add cumin seeds. Once the seeds stop crackling add chopped onion. Saute for a few seconds.
- Add garlic and saute till onions start turning brown.
- Next, add all the dry spice powders and saute for around 30 seconds.
- Add ground tomatoes and cook till tomatoes turn mushy.
- Add ready-made tomato paste and saute for about a minute.
- Pour the cooked lentil and lentil paste. Mix and let it simmer for 7-8 minutes.
- Finally, add the dried fenugreek leaves, garam masala, and cream. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring continuously. Switch off the gas.
- Garnish with fresh cream, chopped coriander leaves, and enjoy with rice or Indian bread.
- You can also make it in a normal pot but in that case it will take around 2 hours to cook the lentils.
- Making the paste of lentils is optional but recommended as it will give a very nice creamy texture to the dish.
- If you don't like whole spices in your dish tie them in a clean muslin cloth and then put them in the pressure cooker. Remove before pouring the lentil in the pan.