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Dal Makhani

Posted on2 Years ago

Dal Makhani is a famous dish in India. The primary ingredients are whole black lentils, Red kidney beans, Indian spices ,Butter or ghee and Fresh Cream and Alternative name for Dal Makhani is Maa di daal. 


Yield: [2-4 servings]

Prep time: [Approx 45 mins to 1 hour ]

Ingredients for Dal Makhani:

1.Black Gram Lentils/Kali Urad Dal-1 cup 

2.Red Kidney Beans/Rajma-1/2 cup 

3.Red chills powder-1 tbs 

4.Cumin powder-1 tbs 

5.Coriander powder-1 tbs 

6.Kasuri methi-1 tbs 

7.Dal makhani powder- 1 tbs




11.Ghee-1/2 cup 

12.Red challis-2 to 3 

13.Fresh Cream 


15.Garlic-2 cloves finely chopped 

16..Ginger 1 tbs finely chopped 

17.Onion-1 finely chopped 

18.Tomato for puree.

How to make Dal Makhani

Soaking lentils

1. Soak both ¾ cup whole urad dal (whole black gram) and ¼ cup rajma (kidney beans) overnight in enough water for 8 to 9 hours. Drain them well. The below photo shows the soaked whole urad dal and rajma.

2. Rinse the urad lentils and rajma legumes a couple of times in water.

3. Drain well and then add them in a 3 litre pressure cooker.

4. Add 3 cups water and stir well.

5. Pressure cook for 18 to 20 whistles on a high flame, till both the whole urad dal and rajma have cooked thoroughly and softened. If they are not cooked, then add about ½ cup water again and pressure cook for 4 to 5 whistles more. 

6.  Both the rajma and urad dal are cooked and softened well. The urad dal should melt in the mouth and should not give any bite or resistance when eaten.

You can also just mash the urad dal with a spoon or with your fingers to check the doneness. The same rule applies for kidney beans too.

Keep the cooked beans aside. Both the urad dal and kidney beans have to be fresh. If they are old or close to their expiry, they take a lot of time to cook.

7. In a blender or mixer jar, take chopped tomatoes. 2 large tomatoes or 200 grams of tomatoes, chopped. No need to blanch the tomatoes.

8. Blend to a smooth puree. Keep aside. You can also use the store brought 1 cup tomato puree instead of blending the tomatoes.

9. In a pan, now heat 3 tablespoons butter. You can use salted butter or unsalted butter.

10. Add the whole spices – ½ tsp cumin seeds, 2 to 3 cloves, 2 to 3 green cardamoms, 1 black cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon, 1 small to medium tej patta (Indian bay leaf). Fry till the spices become aromatic and sputter.

11. Then add ½ cup finely chopped onions.

12. Stir and saute the onions on a low flame often.

13. Saute the onions till they become light golden.

14. Then add 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste. Stir again and sauté till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.

15. Add 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies and stir for a minute.

16. Then add the prepared tomato puree.

17. Mix again.

18. Add ½ teaspoon red chili powder.

19. Then add about 2 to 3 pinches of grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder.

20. Mix very well and sauté this mixture on a low to medium heat, till you see fat releasing from the sides. This takes about 3 to 4 minutes on a medium-low to medium heat.

21. Then add the cooked urad dal and rajma beans.

22. Add the remaining stock. Add 1 cup water or more if required.

Slow cooking

23. Mix very well and simmer the dal uncovered on a low heat.

24. Keep on stirring often, so that the lentils don’t get stuck to the bottom of the pan. The lentils become viscous and start to stick at the bottom if not stirred. Mash a few lentils too while stirring.

25. Once the dal makhani has begun to thicken, add salt as required.

26. Mix very well and continue to simmer on a low heat. Keep on stirring when the lentils are simmered on low heat. When simmering you can add more water if the consistency looks thick or dry.

The longer you keep dal makhni to simmer, the better it tastes. The lentils become creamy, viscous and the consistency of the dal will keep on thickening as you simmer.

I kept for about an overall 25 minutes on a low flame. Do keep on stirring at intervals.

27. When the gravy has thickened enough, then add ¼ to ⅓ cup low fat cream or half and half. If using heavy cream, then add 2 tablespoons of it.

The consistency of Punjabi dal makhani is neither too thick or too thin. It has a medium consistency with a viscosity coming from the thoroughly cooked lentils.

28. Mix the cream very well. Then switch off the heat.

29. Now add ¼ teaspoon kasuri methi, crushed. Stir again. Cover and keep the dal makhani aside, if you are proceeding to the dhungar method. Or else you can serve Punjabi dal makhani straight away.

Optional – charcoal smoking or dhungar method

30. Heat a small piece of charcoal on flame till it becomes red hot. With the help of tongs, keep on turning the charcoal piece so that it evenly burns.

31. Keep the red hot charcoal in a small bowl.

32. Pour ½ to ⅔ teaspoon oil on the charcoal. The hot piece of charcoal would begin to smoke as soon as you pour oil on it.

33. Immediately keep this bowl on top of the dal.

34. Cover with a lid tightly for one minute and allow the charcoal to infuse its smoke in the dal makhani. I usually keep for one minute.

35. Stir again. Serve Punjabi dal makhani garnished with chopped coriander leaves and a few teaspoons of cream with naan, tandoori roti, paratha, kulcha, phulka or aloo paratha or steamed rice.

Expert Tips

  • Soaking: For any kind of dried whole beans or dried peas it is always helps to soak them overnight or for 8 to 9 hours. Soaking beans reduces the phytic acid which causes indigestion and flatulence thereby makes them more digestible. Soaking also helps the beans to cook faster.
  • Rinsing: Before cooking, rinse the soaked beans in water a couple of times. Then drain all the water and cook the beans with fresh water. Doing this also reduces the phytic acid.
  • Cooking: When you soaking beans and lentils the cooking time considerably reduces by 25%. You can then cook the soaked beans in a pan or in a pressure cooker or instant pot.
  • Freshness of lentils: Beans & legumes should be fresh and not aged. Beans which are too old or beyond their expiry date (shelf-life) will take a lot of time to cook and perhaps not cook well enough to give a melt in the mouth texture. Undercooked beans upset the stomach too.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes are an important ingredient in this recipe. You could use canned tomatoes too or packaged tomato puree (1 cup). For fresh tomatoes, choose the sweet and ripe variety. Do not add highly sour or tart tomatoes.
  • Dhungar method: The smoking method can be skipped too if you do not have charcoal. If you have smoked paprika, then use it in place of red chilli powder in the recipe to get a faint smoky flavour.

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