Dal Makhani

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

dal makhani served in a copper kadai topped with butter and cream
Manali
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! 
5 from 107 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 5
Calories 293 kcal

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

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: 293kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 9gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 793mgPotassium: 200mgFiber: 7gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 755IUVitamin C: 5.7mgCalcium: 55mgIron: 3mg
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254 thoughts on “Dal Makhani

  1. Hello Manali,
    I have tried several of your recipes. Every single one has been excellent, from Aloo Gobi to Sooji Halwa, and replaced all the previous efforts in my kitchen cookbook! I am curious before I try this: I have a big bag of urad dal chilka. The split black lentils. I like to add them to some palak and saag dishes for flavour, texture, and goodness 🙂 . Is it worth trying them in this recipe, or should I really go and find some urad dal sabut? I’m concerned it may turn out too mushy… thank you!

    1. Hi Peter, so glad to hear that1 🙂 Yes Dal Makhani is traditionally made with whole urad dal only so I would suggest getting it. The chilka won’t give it the same texture.

    1. not at all, you drain the water in which dal was soaked but after you have cooked the dal, that’s the base of the dal you do not drain the water

  2. 5 stars
    I just tried this for the first time today, planning to serve it to my mom and brother before ever trying it out. I was nervous but just followed the instructions exactly and got to go to the Indian grocery store near me that I’d always wanted to try.
    I’ve never used garam masala before, never tried cooking Indian dishes but have always wanted to since its some of my favourite cuisine. I can’t tell you how proud I was when I finally took the first taste and knew I’d gotten this SO right. Everyone loved it and the garlic butter naan I’d prepared to go with it. It was truly such a happy moment for us in a difficult time. Thank you so much for how thorough and generous you were with giving tips on preparation.
    Now I want to start keeping these spices in my home and trying so much new recipes. This will be a very special dish to me always as the first time I got up the courage to try something outside the type of Western cooking I was raised with. Thank you ❤️

    1. Emily, that’s one of the kindest message I have ever received on my blog. Thank you so much for taking out the time to leave a comment. I really appreciate it. So glad you enjoyed the recipe, this is my favorite!

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