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Restaurant Style Dal Makhani

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Dal makhani is Indian comfort food at its finest that your family will love. Thanks to the Instant Pot, it is quick and easy to make. This dal curry is perfect for cool days, days when you need a pick me up, and days when you just want to have something that tastes delicious. Some recipes are universally loved by every foodie and geographical boundaries don't matter. Dal Makhani is one such recipe that is loved across the world.

 

Soniya Saluja

Soniya

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 Dal makhani - madras lentils - dal bukhara

This recipe was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated with  Simpler Stove to and instant pot instructions  ,  pictures, new video and pro-tips.

This Recipe's Index

What is Dal Makhani / Madras Lentils?

Dal Makhani is a very popular Indian curry made of lentils and butter. Dal means “lentils” and Makhani means “butter.” It is a creamy, rich comfort food found all over the world in Indian restaurants. 

What do you need to make this recipe?

To make this delicious comfort food, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • Black gram dal or whole urad dal
  • Kidney beans or rajma 
  • Ghee/ Olive oil - you could use another oil if you have it on hand
  • Cumin seeds 
  • Dry bay leaves 
  • Onion - white onions are best for this recipe
  • Garlic and ginger- grated or crushed
  • Chopped cilantro 
  • Turmeric powder 
  • Red chili powder 
  • Tomatoes - crushed
  • Cumin or coriander powder 
  • Kasoori methi 
  • Salt - add to taste, but you can omit if you are watching how much salt you eat each day

dal makhani

How to make it in the Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is our preferred way to make this recipe because it makes it super easy and fast. The whole dish is ready in about 45 minutes or less. Here’s how to do it.

Start by cleaning the black lentils of any debris. Wash and soak the udad dal/ lentil for about an hour. This will help aid digestion and cut down on the cook time. Once they have soaked, drain the dal /lentil completely and keep it aside.

Dal makhani step by step

Turn on the Saute function on the Instant Pot  . When HOT add the ghee or oil . Then add the bay leaf and  cumin seeds let it crackle . Add in the fenugreek leaves , garlic, and ginger and give it a quick stir. 

Madras lentils step by step

Once the spices have cooked, add the onion. Saute them for about 2 minutes or until the onions have started to soften. Next add in the  tomatoes, salt, turmeric, red chili powder, cumin (or coriander powder), the dal/ lentils and water. 

Stir it all together and cancel the Saute function on the Instant Pot. Place the lid on the pot and set it to pressure cook on manual for 35 minutes. 

dal makhani step by step

When the timer goes off, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release for about 5 to 10 minutes and then release the remaining pressure using the quick release valve.

Carefully open the lid and stir the dal well. Add in the canned kidney beans .Use a potato masher, ladle, or other hard spoon to smash up some of the dal and beans. This will add creaminess to the dal. If the dal seems to dry, add in a small amount of water and stir it well. Add a dash of heavy cream if desired .

Serve hot with roti, naan, Jeera rice, or your other favorite dishes.

madras lentils

How to make it on the stove top

  • Soak the urad dal. This will help aid digestion of the beans. Once they have soaked, drain the  dal completely. 
  • Place the dal, beans, water, onion, ginger, salt and turmeric powder in a stove top pressure cooker and cook on medium heat for 3 to 4 whistles 15 - 20 minutes. After the fourth whistle, set the burner to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  • When the pressure has released, open the lid. Make sure the dal is fully cooked and tender. Add canned rajma and give it a quick stir .(If you didn’t soak the dal, cook until the pressure cooker reaches 4 to 6 whistles and keep it on low to medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes.)
  • To make the tempering, heat butter or oil in a large skillet or pan. When the butter has melted or the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds. Once they start to sputter, add the garlic and tomatoes. Saute until the tomatoes are soft and breaking apart.
  • Next, add in the red chili powder, coriander powder, and dried Kasoori methi or dried fenugreek leaves. Saute the mixture until the oil oozes out from the masala or till the tomato becomes mushy.
  • Once the tempering is done, pour in the cooked dal from the pressure cooker. Simmer on low heat until the dal is soft and well-blended with the tempering. 
  • Serve the dal hot with roti, naan, rice, or your favorite dish.

dal makhani

Tips and tricks

Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the best Madras Lentils.

  • Soaking lentils ahead of time helps aid digestion and reduces cooking times
  • Use white onions for the best flavor, but yellow works too if needed
  • Don’t add cream or butter if you want to keep the recipe vegan
  • Use fresh ingredients like ginger, garlic, and tomatoes 
  • You can make your own tomato puree instead of using tomato paste for even better flavor

dal makhani recipe

Is this gluten free?

Yes! This recipe does not use any flour or ingredients that contain gluten.

Do I need to soak the dal overnight to make this recipe?

No! One of the best parts of using the Instant Pot is that you don’t have to pre soak your lentils or beans the night before. If you did already, that’s not a problem either! The Instant Pot can handle cooking both soaked and unsoaked beans and lentils.

dal bukhara recipe

Is this dal recipe vegan?

We use both cream and butter to help enhance the creaminess and flavors of this recipe. But if you want to keep this vegan, you can by omitting the butter and cream. The dal makhni will still be creamy. The creaminess comes from the split lentils added into the curry.

What can I serve this with?

This is a very versatile dish. You can serve it with basmati rice, roti, or naan. You could also serve it with this homemade Kulcha. But if you are really looking to elevate your experience eating this dal, you should try it with chutney, aachar, chilled pineapple lassi, or chilled mango lassi.

madras lentils- creamy black lentils

How do you store the Madras Lentils?

Though foods always taste best freshly made, you can store this curry for later use or to send with your family for a quick, warm homemade lunch. 

To store, allow the dal makhni to cool down to room temperature. Once it has cooled, spoon it into an airtight container and place in the refrigerator. You can store this for about 4 to 5 days if you did not add extra cream. If you have added cream, you can store it for about 1 to 2 days.

You can also freeze the dal. To do this, allow it to cool and place it in a freezer safe container. You can freeze the dal for up to 6 months. To reheat, allow it to defrost and microwave for a few minutes until warmed through or cook over low heat on the stove top in a pan. 

If you want, you can reheat in the microwave still frozen, just add additional cook time to thaw and heat the dal.

dal makhani

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madras lentils- creamy black lentils

Restaurant Style Dal Makhani

Yield: 4-6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Dal Makhani is Indian comfort food at its finest that your family will love. Thanks to the Instant Pot, it is quick and easy to make. This dal curry is perfect for cool days, days when you need a pick me up, and days when you just want to have something that tastes delicious.

Ingredients

  • Black gram dal / whole urad dal - 1 - ½ cup
  • Kidney beans - 1 canned
  • Ghee or oil -2 tbsp.
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp.
  • Dry bay leaves - 1
  • Medium onion/ finely chopped-1
  • Fresh chopped ginger-1 tsp
  • Garlic cloves/ chopped- 4
  • Chopped cilantro- 2 tbsp.
  • Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
  • Red chili powder - 2 tsp
  • Tomatoes/ finely chopped - 2 medium or 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Cumin/coriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Dried fenugreek leaves /Kasoori methi - 1 tbsp.
  • Salt to taste
  • Water- 4 cups
  • Cream- ¼ cup- optional

Instructions

Instant Pot Instructions

  1. Wash and rinse the whole urad dal / lentil and keep it aside.
  2. Turn on the saute function. when hot, add the ghee, bay leaves, cumin seeds.
  3. Once the cumin seed crackles, add ginger, garlic, dried fenugreek leaves and give it a stir.
  4. Add in the chopped onions
  5. Saute for a couple of minutes until the onion becomes soft.
  6. Add the tomatoes, salt, turmeric, red chili powder, and cumin /coriander powder and stir to mix.
  7. Add the lentils / dal Stir well to mix and then add water .
  8. Cancel the Saute function on the Instant Pot, and put on the lid.
  9. Press the Pressure cook function on the Instant Pot which sets it to pressure cook for 35 minutes.
  10. When done, do a Natural release .
  11. Open the lid . Add in the canned / cooked kidney beans. Stir the dal well.
  12. Use a ladle to mush some of the dal and beans, making it creamier.
  13. If it appears too thick, add some water to get the desired consistency, and turn the saute function until it heats through.
  14. Add the cream
  15. Serve it with hot paratha, naan, Jeera Rice or Roti.

Stove top instructions

  1. Place the dal, beans, water, onion, ginger, garlic, red chilis, salt and turmeric powder in a stove top pressure cooker and cook on medium heat for 3 to 4 whistles 15 - 20 minutes. After the fourth whistle, set the burner to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  2. When the pressure has released, open the lid. Make sure the dal is fully cooked and tender. Add canned rajma and give it a quick stir.
  3. To make the tempering, heat butter or oil in a large skillet or pan. When the butter has melted or the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds. Once they start to sputter, add the garlic and tomatoes. Saute until the tomatoes are soft and breaking apart.
  4. Next, add in the red chilli powder, coriander powder, and dried Kastoori methi or dried fenugreek leaves. Saute the mixture until the oil oozes out from the masala or till the tomato becomes mushy.
  5. Once the tempering is done, pour in the cooked dal from the pressure cooker. Simmer on low heat until the dal is soft and well-blended with the tempering. 

Notes

  1. If you forgot to soak the dal/ lentils pressure cook the lentils on high pressure for 45 minutes with natural pressure release.
  2. Add tomato paste instead of fresh tomatoes
  3. You can use garam masala instead of dried fenugreek leaves.
  4. Double the recipe in a 6qt or 8qt Instant pot easily by doubling the ingredients. The time remains the same .

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Easy Spicy Urad Dal - Video Recipe | TheBellyRulesTheMind

Friday 19th of March 2021

[…] They originated in India. Many people still cook them in India in dishes like this spicy urad dal or dal makhani. […]

Joy Touchstone

Sunday 7th of March 2021

Hello!

Is there a substitute for the fenugreek leaves? I. Having a difficult time finding them. Thanks for clarifying the amount for the crushed tomatoes. It wasn't in the recipe.

Soniya Saluja

Sunday 7th of March 2021

Hi Joy, there is no substitution fir dried fenugreek leaves. You can skip it if you can't find it easily. Hope you find it coz it's a very aromatic herb used in Indian cooking. Hope this helps

Diwakar Mishra

Saturday 6th of February 2021

Wow delicious 😋 recipe with all well defined steps and images of Punjabi Dal Makhani Recipe

Soniya Saluja

Monday 8th of February 2021

Thanks,Diwakar!

Sue

Saturday 24th of October 2020

How is Urad dal different from the green lentils I usually use? Can I use the green lentils in this recipe?

Toni Dash

Friday 18th of September 2020

This is so good!! Love how flavorful it is!!

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