Dal Makhani

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 is 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

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! 

dal makhani served in a copper kadai topped with butter and cream
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword dal makhani
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 293 kcal
Author: Manali
5 from 5 votes
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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

  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. 

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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.

  10. Add in the boiled dal (which had been simmering for around 10 to 15 mins you were making the masala) and mix. 

  11. Add garam masala, kashmiri red chili powder and salt. Mix to combine. 

  12. Add 1/2 cup water, stir and set heat to low. Let it simmer on low heat uncovered for around 45 minutes. 

  13. 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.

  17. 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.

  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. 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.

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

Recipe 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 Facts
Dal Makhani
Amount Per Serving
Calories 293 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 29%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Cholesterol 58mg 19%
Sodium 793mg 33%
Potassium 200mg 6%
Total Carbohydrates 22g 7%
Dietary Fiber 7g 28%
Sugars 2g
Protein 9g 18%
Vitamin A 15.1%
Vitamin C 6.9%
Calcium 5.5%
Iron 16.9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

42 thoughts on “Dal Makhani

  1. This lentil soup looks delicious! Love lentils! You are completly right, the pressure cooker is a blessing when trying to cook lentil, chickpeas or beans. I will try it! I don’t have ghee so I will try with regular butter.

    1. Thanks Azu..yeah I cannot survive without a pressure cooker!! Btw this lentil recipe is not soup kinds..it’s creamy and thick and eaten as a main course with naan and rice.. hope you give it a try! 🙂

    1. Just made this and its the best dal mackhani recipe I’ve ever tried, thankyou! And so simple. Will definitely be trying your other recipes!

    1. Rushita you can definitely boil the dal in IP, I have mentioned that. But you will to simmer it for an hour at least for that amazing taste. Now I prefer simmering on stove top, if you want simmer in your IP on saute “less”.

    1. Hi Julie, in India we use a traditional stove top pressure cooker. It gives whistles as it comes to pressure. So I am asking to count 10 whistles on high heat and then lower the heat. I have also give the timings for Instant Pot and pan as well.


  2. I used to be absolutely obsessed with madras lentils packs you could pick up at costco and hide in the desk drawer. I attempted a few different recipes and gave up because nothing was coming close to that flavor I craved. Then I got the hankering again and found your recipe, promptly making it and it was exactly what I’ve been missing. Even my 10&7 year old kids ate 2 bowls each! I doubled the batch and made in the InstantPot, the only thing I am sad to report is that I sent the last bowl with my husband to work and now I am without!


  3. Thankyou Manali for this receipe… Every time I try your receipe, they turn out delicious…i like your detailed and so accurate description of the whole process of making receipe…. Thank you once again… 😀

  4. HI Manali. Thanks for this amazing recipe. As a Punjabi, daal is in my blood lol so I can’t wait to try it !
    I don’t have a pressure cooker and neither I am planning on buying it. You mentioned to use instant pot. Is that the same as the crockpot?

    1. Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker…crockpot is a slow cooker..so they are different things.. hope you enjoy this recipe! 🙂 without a pressure cooker, this dal will take quite a bit of time to cook..

  5. This was delicious! I tasted just how I hoped it would. 🙂
    I simmered it uncovered the last two times I made it, but would it have been better to cover it while it simmered so it didn’t lose so much liquid so quickly? Obviously it should be thick, so maybe not, but what do you do?

    1. I don’t cover it since dal makhani is supposed to be quite thick. You can always add more towards the end if you want to adjust the consistency to your preference. I am glad you liked it 🙂

  6. I always wanted to make this dish as my kids love it. Got the dhall and I was browsing for a good recipe. Reading the comments on this recipe of Manali, thought why not I try this.
    Made it. Didn’t change anything except the quantity. Came out so well and tasty too. Thank you so much..


  7. Tried this recipe for my 4 year old daughter. She just loved it. Its really yummmm. Although it doesn’t have usual sabut masala like zeera, elachi, dal chini so i was skeptical but the result was awesome tasting dal makhni!!!
    Definitely saving it for next time.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Shanu! and Dal Makhani doesn’t really need a lot of spices..it’s the slow cooking and butter and cream that does the magic 🙂

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