Dal Makhani

5 from 151 votes

Creamy & buttery Dal Makhani is one of India's most special and popular dal. Black lentils are cooked with lot of butter and cream making it a special dish. Best enjoyed with naan! 

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Creamy and buttery Dal Makhani is one of India’s most loved dal!

This dal has whole black lentils cooked with butter and cream and simmered on low heat for that unique flavor. It tastes best with garlic naan!

I share all my tips and tricks to make restaurant style Dal Makhani at home with easy to follow steps.

dal makhani served in a copper kadai topped with butter and cream

Lentils have been an integral part of my diet. In India, we pretty much eat lentils everyday and in my house especially there was never a day when there was no dal on the table.

The most common dal that mom used to make every day was obviously the arhar/toor dal (split pigeon pea lentil). Then there was masoor dal (red lentils), chana dal and moong dal which she also made once in a while.

But one dal that was made only on special occasions was Dal Makhani.

Makhani means “buttery”, so for this recipe whole black lentils (urad sabut) is cooked with lot of butter and cream. Along with urad sabut,  rajma (kidney beans) are also often added to this dal

It’s a rich dal and hence was made on special occasions only.

Dal Makhani is one of the most popular dals in India and it’s certainly my husbands favorite. It’s there on the menu of every Indian restaurant and in every Indian wedding and parties.

Sarvesh is kind of obsessed with it and of course since he’s Punjabi he has pretty high expectations from this dal as he has had his fair share of the best dal makhani in Delhi & Punjab!

When we got married, I tried to learn this dal foremost. And it has taken me many years of trials to finally make a version that Sarvesh likes.

Trust me, it was very difficult for me to get a “yes” from him for Dal Makhani. He usually enjoys whatever I cook but for his favorite dal he has some special taste buds which are difficult to please.

dal makhani served it a kadai with a spoon with some onion slices in the background

This Restaurant Style Dal Makhani

✓ is rich, creamy and buttery

✓ tastes just like the Dal Makhani from your favorite restaurant

✓ tastes great with garlic naan or jeera rice

Me and Sarvesh have argued quite a lot while making this dish. I have made it so many times and every time he would say “It’s okay but not like one from my favorite place in Delhi”.

Because he is so fond of it he has strong childhood memories for the best Dal Makhani and it was very difficult to get a thumbs up for Dal Makhani from him.

But guys, finally after so many years, I cracked it! He finally said “this is amazing”, that certainly felt like music to my years!

I am so excited to share just the best Dal Makhani recipe with you guys. Here’s what I learned through my trails in all these years.

Tips to Make Best Dal Makhani

1. Simmer on low heat for long time- you will get the best flavors of this dal, if you let it simmer for hours on low heat. I understand that we all have busy lives, but if you can, I high recommend simmering the dal for 30 minutes at least. An hour or two is even better.

Slow cooking enhances all the flavors and makes the dal super delicious and creamy. A lot of restaurants who are known for their amazing dal makhani actually simmer it the whole day.

Basically you boil the lentils till they are soft and then you proceed to make the masala and all this while the lentils will keep simmering on medium-low flame.

Then you add the dal to the masala and let the dal simmer some more. For this recipe, the dal was simmered for around 1 hour & 15 minutes on low heat.

2. Be generous with using butter and cream- this is not a recipe to cut down on the fat. The butter and cream are essential for that dal makhani flavor that you love.

So don’t add only 1 tablespoon of cream and butter if you want that restaurant style taste.

3. Less is more when it comes to using spices in dal makhani- over the years I have tried so many combinations. And finally I have come to this conclusion that dal makhani doesn’t really need any spice!

I have added 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala but that’s also optional. You can skip it. Other than that there’s only 1/2 teaspoon of kashmiri red chili powder for the color mainly.

No kasuri methi, cumin seeds nothing.

The main flavors of the dal come from using fresh onion, ginger, garlic, tomato puree and liberal amount of butter and ghee. That’s all you need to make a good dal makhani.

a piece of naan dipped in a kadai of dal makhani with more naan and onion slices in the plate

4. Use white onion for that sweet and subtle flavor, red onion has a strong flavor which effects the final taste of the dal.

5. Use store bought tomato puree for that smooth texture- if you are looking for that creamy texture, then do use store bought tomato puree.

If you use regular pureed tomatoes, make sure to add some tomato paste.

Since tomato paste is concentrated, it gives a really nice rich flavor.

6. Pinch of sugar helps in balancing the flavors– I add only 1/2 teaspoon of sugar but it really helps in giving the dal that extra flavor.

7. Serve with a pat of salted amul butter- if possible use it even while cooking the dal! It makes a difference guys. I cooked this entire dal using Amul salted butter.

For those who don’t know Amul is an Indian brand whose butter is what most people in India use all the time.

And even if you can’t use it while cooking, don’t forget to serve the dal with a piece of amul butter. You will notice the difference! And if you can’t find amul butter at all, I will suggest using salted butter anyway.

8. Infuse smokey flavor to the dal through dhungar method- just like Dal Tadka, I like infusing my dal makhani with the smokey flavor too. It does make a difference.

I only smoke it for 2 minutes in case of dal makhani. It doesn’t need to very smokey.

However if you can’t find a charcoal, you can skip this step.

 

Method

1- Wash and rinse urad dal (whole black lentil) and rajma (kidney beans) in a large bowl. Soak in 3 cups water overnight.

2- In the morning, drain the water in which the dal and rajma was soaked. Transfer the dal and rajma to a pressure cooker with 1 teaspoon salt.

Add around 3.5 cups water. Pressure cook on high-medium heat for 10 whistles, then lower the heat to low-medium and cook for another 10 minutes. In total around 15 to 20 whistles.

3- Let the pressure release naturally. The dal and rajma should be completely cooked and you should be able to mash them with your fingers.

If using the Instant pot, pressure cook the lentils on high pressure for 30 minutes with natural pressure release.

4- Mash some of the dal and rajma using a potato masher. Then turn on the heat to lowest heat and let the dal simmer while you make the masala.

step by step pictures of making restaurant style dal makhani at home

5- To make the masala, in a large pot/pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter  (I use and recommend amul salted butter here) and 1 tablespoon ghee on medium heat.

6- Once the butter melts and is hot, add the finely grated onion.

7- Cook the onion for around 6 to 7 minutes or until it turns light golden brown. Keep stirring it continuously so that it doesn’t burn and keep heat on medium.

8- Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for 1 to 2 minute until the raw smell goes away.

step by step pictures of making restaurant style dal makhani at home

9- Add the tomato puree and mix.

10- Cook for 2 minutes or until the puree mixes well with masala and oil starts oozing out from the sides.

11-Add in the boiled dal (which had been simmering for around 10 to 15 mins you were making the masala) and mix. Add garam masala, kashmiri red chili powder and salt. Mix to combine.

12- Add 1/2 cup water, stir and set heat to low.

step by step pictures of making restaurant style dal makhani at home

13- Let it simmer on low heat uncovered for around 45 minutes. Stir often (every 10 minutes or so) else dal will stick to the bottom of the pot. You will also need to add water. I added total of 1.5 cups water as the dal was simmering.

14- Add sugar and mix after the dal has simmered for 45 minutes.

15- Also add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1/4 cup cream. Mix well.

16- Simmer for 10 more minutes on low heat after adding the cream. Dal will become really creamy by now.

You may serve the dal at this point or do the additional step of giving it a smokey flavor.

step by step pictures of making restaurant style dal makhani at home

This last step (dhungar method) is optional but recommend.

17- For the smokey flavor, place a steel bowl on top of a trivet placed inside the dal. Then heat a piece of charcoal over direct heat until its red hot.

18- Place hot charcoal in that steel bowl on top of the trivet. Pour melted ghee (around 1 tablespoon) on top of charcoal.

19- You will immediately see fumes coming out of charcoal.

20- Immediately close the pan with a lid. Let it remain like this for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, remove lid and remove the bowl from dal.

The longer you keep the lid closed, the smokier dal will get and for dal makhani I don’t like it very smokey so 2 minutes was good for me. You may do 5 minutes but don’t do more.

step by step pictures of making restaurant style dal makhani at home

Garnish dal makhani with more cream and serve with a pat of amul butter. Enjoy!

dal makhani in a copper kadai with a pat of butter

If you’ve tried this Dal Makhani Recipe then don’t forget to rate the recipe! You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram to see what’s latest in my kitchen!

This post has been updated from the recipe archives, first published in 2015.

Dal Makhani

5 from 151 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 5
Creamy & buttery Dal Makhani is one of India's most special and popular dal. Black lentils are cooked with lot of butter and cream making it a special dish. Best enjoyed with naan! 

Ingredients 

To Pressure Cook

  • 3/4 cup urad dal sabut (whole black lentil) 165 grams
  • 1/4 cup rajma (red kidney beans) 60 grams
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3.5 cups water 28 oz

Masala for the Dal

  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 3 tablespoons butter divided, use amul butter (salted) if possible
  • 1 medium white onion 115 grams, finely grated using a food processor
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste use fresh paste if possible
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree use store bought tomato puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1.5 cups water 12 oz, as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream 60 ml
  • more amul butter (salted) for serving
  • piece of charcoal optional, for giving dal a smokey flavor
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Instructions 

  • Wash and rinse urad dal (whole black lentil) and rajma (kidney beans) in a large bowl. Soak in 3 cups water overnight.
  • In the morning, drain the water in which the dal and rajma was soaked. Transfer the dal and rajma to a pressure cooker with 1 teaspoon salt. Add around 3.5 cups water. 
  • Pressure cook on high-medium heat for 10 whistles, then lower the heat to low-medium and cook for another 10 minutes. In total around 15 to 20 whistles.
  • Let the pressure release naturally. The dal and rajma should be completely cooked and you should be able to mash them with your fingers. 
    If using the Instant pot, pressure cook the lentils on high pressure for 30 minutes with natural pressure release.
  • Mash some of the dal and rajma using a potato masher. Then turn on the heat to lowest heat and let the dal simmer while you make the masala.
  • To make the masala, in a large pot/pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter  (I use and recommend amul salted butter here) and 1 tablespoon ghee on medium heat.
  • Once the butter melts and is hot, add the finely grated onion. Cook the onion for around 6 to 7 minutes or until it turns light golden brown. Keep stirring it continuously so that it doesn't burn and keep heat on medium.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for 1 to 2 minute until the raw smell goes away.
  • Add the tomato puree and mix. Cook for 2 minutes or until the puree mixes well with masala and oil starts oozing out from the sides.
  • Add in the boiled dal (which had been simmering for around 10 to 15 mins you were making the masala) and mix. 
  • Add garam masala, kashmiri red chili powder and salt. Mix to combine. 
  • Add 1/2 cup water, stir and set heat to low. Let it simmer on low heat uncovered for around 45 minutes. 
  • Stir often (every 10 minutes or so) else dal will stick to the bottom of the pot. You will also need to add water. I added total of 1.5 cups water as the dal was simmering.
  • Add sugar and mix after the dal has simmered for 45 minutes.
  • Also add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1/4 cup cream. Mix well.
  • Simmer for 10 more minutes on low heat after adding the cream. Dal will become really creamy by now. You may serve the dal at this point or do the additional step of giving it a smokey flavor.
  • This last step (dhungar method) is optional but recommend. For the smokey flavor, place a steel bowl on top of a trivet placed inside the dal. Then heat a piece of charcoal over direct heat until its red hot.
  • Place hot charcoal in that steel bowl on top of the trivet. Pour melted ghee (around 1 tablespoon) on top of charcoal.
  • You will immediately see fumes coming out of charcoal. Immediately close the pan with a lid. Let it remain like this for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, remove lid and remove the bowl from dal. The longer you keep the lid closed, the smokier dal will get and for dal makhani I don't like it very smokey so 2 minutes was good for me. You may do 5 minutes but don't do more.
  • Garnish dal makhani with more cream and serve with a pat of amul butter. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. You may use 1 cup urad dal only in case you don't have kidney beans or don't like them in your dal makhani.
  2. If you can't find store bought tomato puree, you may puree 2 large tomatoes and use in the recipe but then do remember to add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste to give it that rich flavor.
  3. Simmering the dal on low heat is the key to a good dal makhani. I highly recommend simmering for an hour, 30 minute is the least. 
  4. If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can cook the dal on stove top. Add soaked lentil to a pan, add water and let it cook on medium heat for 1 hour & 15 minutes. It might take even longer. Once cooked, lentil should be really soft.
  5. If using the Instant pot, pressure cook the lentils on high pressure for 30 minutes with natural pressure release.

Nutrition

Calories: 293kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 58mg, Sodium: 793mg, Potassium: 200mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 755IU, Vitamin C: 5.7mg, Calcium: 55mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
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Hi, I’m Manali!

Bringing you easy, delicious vegetarian & vegan recipes! Eating veggies can be fun, you just need to get creative in the kitchen with the right set of ingredients!


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Recipe Rating




364 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Just made this after trying another popular recipe… hands down the best and most authentic tasting.

    I am vegan, so swapped the ‘cream’ for equal amounts of coconut yogurt and has worked a charm

  2. 5 stars
    This is an excellent recipe. I did not have the charcoal set-up, but what I did do was mix 1/4 tsp. liquid smoke with 2 tbsp. water, then added a little at a time, stirred thoroughly to blend, till I obtained the lightly smoky taste I wanted.

  3. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe. Have received nothing but compliments from all. Just follow the instructions and you cannot go wrong. Thank you Manali.

  4. 5 stars
    Great recipe!
    I don’t use the charcoal smoke method but “fake it” by adding a teaspoon of smoked paprika. It tastes great and the deep red of the paprika adds to the colour of the dal.

    1. the nutrition is calculated automatically by a recipe plugin that I use. It divides the total estimate by the number of servings I put in the recipe card. This is just an estimate. so yes it is for 1 serving.

  5. 5 stars
    One of the best Dal Makhani recipes I have made . Got so many compliments . The little tips are a game changer.

    Thanks

  6. 5 stars
    It would be more good if you add chana daal its the secret for daal makhani. Its makes nice and silky to daal but your method is excellent and looks yummy.

  7. 5 stars
    Whole family loved it and hubby said it tasted like our local Indian restaurant’s version. I skipped the smoking step, but it was so full of flavor as is that I don’t think I will worry about it when making in the future.

    1. they will be okay, white onions works better because of their mild flavor compared to red onions in Dal Makhani but you can use the red onions, it’s fine.

  8. Hi Manali… The dal looks delicious. In the recipe you mentioned we can replace the rajma with 1 cup Urad dal? Means… increase the 3/4 whole urad dal quantity to 1 cup right…

  9. 5 stars
    I found this recipe because there was a pre-packaged Dal Makhani in my local store which I just loooooved. After it almost doubled in price I wanted to make my own instead. I’ve made it 3 times so far from this recipe and it’s so much better than the ready made one. Got some urad and rajma soaking for the next one right now. Thank you so much!

  10. 5 stars
    This is delicious! I’ve made it once and am making it again this weekend. What vegetable side dishes would you recommend eating with it?

  11. Is there a reason not to fry the garam masala and chilli with the onion, garlic and ginger first? I have been recommended that this releases the flavour of the spices.
    Thanks!

    1. there are various ways and techniques when it comes to Indian cooking so there’s no one rule which fits all. This is restaurant style recipe and it cooked little differently than home recipes. Also garam masala usually is added towards the end so that you can have the maximum flavor from it. Hope this helps!

  12. 5 stars
    I had Dal Makhani in a restaurant a couple of weeks ago for the first time and it was so delicious. I had to find a recipe online and landed on this one and I made it tonight. It was sooooo good! and very, very similar to the one I had in the restaurant. That made me really happy. One thing though – I found that this recipe needed more salt, so I’ll increase that next time. My family thought it should have a bit of heat/spice. What would you suggest I add to make it a bit spicy? Chili peppers? Doesn’t need to be super hot, but a tiny bit of heat in this would be wonderful.

  13. 5 stars
    I’ve made this 3 times now and its so good every time. The recipe is quite simple, but the flavor goes so far with such little spices. It tastes even better the next day. I’m going to try it again today but with some green chiliI. t’s the only dal makhani recipe I’ve tried and likely the only one I ever will 🙂

  14. 5 stars
    One of the few recipes, that if you follow step by step will give you probably the best Makhani Daal you have ever tasted.

  15. 5 stars
    This was really delicious! I made it in the instant with just the lentils and added some kale. Will definitely make again!

    1. 5 stars
      I’ve made this 3 times now and love it. It is one of our favourite take away dishes and I never thought I could make it myself

  16. If you’re doubling the recipe, do you have to pressure cook for 1 hour in the instant pot rather than 30 mins?

    1. no cooking time remains same, pressure cooking doesn’t depend on the amount rather the size of what’s being cooked.

  17. what is Dal-Makhani? Is it a soup, vegetables or something else? I need to know so I can put with my recipes

    1. It is a dal, it is not a soup not a vegetable. Dals is a broad term used for lentils and lentil dishes in India. Dal Makhani means buttery dal since makhani word comes from hindi word “makkhan” which means butter. Please google and read more about it.

  18. I read elsewhere that one can use the Mexican chile morita to impart the smoky flavor. In addition to being smoky they are spicy and will complement the butter and cream in this dish

    1. you can Sophia however Dal Makhani is traditionally made with urad dal so if you use French lentils it will still turn out delicious and good, it just won’t be Dal Makhani anymore.

    1. This is in reference to traditional pressure cooker which is used in Indian cooking. When the pressure cooker comes to pressure, it blows out a whistle, that’s what it means. If you have an Instant Pot, please follow instructions for that which are mentioned. If you don’t have any kind of pressure cooker, cook the soaked dal in a pan until it’s very soft and cooked, would take around 1 hour.

  19. 5 stars
    I usually never leave comments on recipes, however I knew I had to for this one. I have re-made this recipe more than 10 times, it’s one of my absolute favorites now. It’s delicious, easy, and so satisfying. I have recommended this recipe to countless friends and family. 10/10!

  20. 5 stars
    I had tried Dahl Makhani at my local restaurant & loved it. Thought i’d give it a go myself using this recipe & was not disappointed. This recipe is BETTER than my restaurant meal. Definitely a keeper & on regular rotation in our house. thank you so much.

  21. 5 stars
    This is easily the best thing I have ever made! This is my favourite recipe of yours so far! I hate how long it takes but it is so worth it.
    Found mine to be lacking in flavour so I added more salt and a vegetable stock cube and it was absolutely perfect 10/10
    My Indian partner was very impressed 😊

  22. This has been my true love dining out for years; and finally I have made one which is comparable. So, onwards and upwards … it’s so delicious!!! Thanks for taking the time to go through it step by step 🙂 With love from Cape Town, South Africa

  23. Hi Manali,

    I need a favour from you.
    Will 5ltr cooker sufficient for 1.5 kg daal?
    Also, how many onions and tomatoes do I need for 1.5 kg daal makhani?
    Please reply?

    1. it should be okay. unfortunately I have never weighed my dal but I think you should double this recipe

  24. 5 stars
    You mention to simmer as long as possible to get the best flavor but I’m not sure which one of simmering times I should lengthen. Should I take longer to simmer once I’ve combined the lentils and the masala but before I’ve added the cream? I love your recipes and your cookbook is the best! Thanks.

    1. Thanks so much Cynthia for the kind words! If you read the recipe itself, it’s very clearly mentioned. It is after you have combined the lentils with the masala before adding the cream.

  25. Hi Miss Manali. I can not find amul butter in my part of the Frozen North. May I substitute ghee, regular butter (salted?) or something else? Thank you.

  26. 5 stars
    Did not smoke it, used yellow split peas, and used twice the spice and added sweet potato chunks-still worked out deliciously!

  27. Please can you help, I am cooking for a family of 20 so would like to prepare beforehand an freeze some,, san I freeze at some stage your cashew nut curry and your dai makhani , my son is vegan. So please help.

    1. you can freeze dal makhani, don’t add the cream or butter. cool and then freeze. when you thaw it, that’s when you add the cream or butter or coconut milk in your case if you want to make it vegan

  28. Cooked this tonight as an occasional cook who is trying to get better, and it worked really well… your instructions are fantastic. Would be good if ingredients was at the top or there was a button to quickly scroll to that area. Hoping to make this regularly as a rotation from other dhal. Thank you!

  29. Thanks Manali – great recipe. I have tried it out at home and will now scale up for an occasion where I am cooking lunch for c.90 people. I am used to not scaling up the spices in the same scale as the main ingredients, but do you have any top tips for adapting the recipe for large numbers?

    Also – I did not have a steel bowl for the dhungar smoking, but sliced the bottom off a large white onion to make it flat, dug out a whole in the top and used that for the ghee and charcoal and it seemed to work really well.

    1. Wow 90 people, even I have never cooked for those many people! I would say hold back on multiplying the garam masala , you can always add more later. I am sorry I can’t be of too much help here since I have never cooked for 90 people.

  30. 5 stars
    This was really good! I used Beluga black lentils in place of urad dal and didn’t do the charcoal but added smoked paprika as someone suggested. Next time I will double the recipe so I can have it more than once! Thank you!