Recipe: Dal Makhani
Dal Makhani is a popular lentil dish from the North Indian Cuisine. Dal is lentils and makhani is butter. Therefore as the name suggests this lentil curry is rich and creamy. Both cream and butter contribute to the richness and the spices make it exotically flavourful. The lentils or dal used for this curry is urad or black gram.
Dal Makhani is a favourite world over as it is on the menu of almost all the Indian Restaurants worldwide. I think the reason that this dal is popular is because usually it is mildly spiced. It is usually enjoyed with some naan, rice, roti or paratha. My family loves to have it with hot rotis. Some like the dal a bit thin while others love it thick. Mine preparation is neither thin or too thick. Add water according to your preference.
Traditional Method Of Making Dal Makhani
Traditionally, the dal was cooked over a low heat charcoal furnace or in the naan furnace overnight. Slow cooking makes the dal more flavourful. Slow cooking in water would result in a dal that is cooked well and almost mushy. The following day spices, homemade butter and cream are added to make it thick, creamy and buttery.
Modern Day Version
Nowadays whole urad or black is soaked for a while in warm water and then cooked in the pressure cooker. Most families do not have time to allow it to cook slowly. I prefer to soak the urad in warm water overnight. This helps the lentils to cook faster and they become a bit mushy faster.
Thick Or Thin?
Should Dal Makhani be thick or thin? Personally I feel that is a choice you make according to what your family prefers. My family like the dal not too watery or not too thick. If you allow it to simmer for a longer time, it becomes thick.
Sharing This Recipe With Foodies_ Redoing Old Posts
This group over a year or so has allowed me to renew so many old posts. It is because of this group I have remained focused, a good reminder to take good shots when I prepare dishes and then the write up. The dal makhani photos were taken in 2019 and till now I did not get the opportunity to redo this post.
This recipe was first posted on 22/06/2012. Adding new photos and bushed up the writing on 14/07/2023
Some More Dal| Lentil Curry Recipes
Ingredients Required For Dal Makhani
Whole kali dal, black gram. Soak the lentil in warm water for at least 6-8 hours or overnight.
Need a handful only. Red kidney beans, dried or fresh. If you are using dried rajma, then you need to soak them with the urad in warm water for 6-8 hours or overnight.
To soak the dal and rajma. Also need some for cooking them. Need about 4-6 cups. Add more water for a thinner dal and less for an extra thick version.
Peeled and chopped finely. Usually the red variety is used but you can use either the yellow or white one.
Peeled and minced or paste.
Remove the skin and minced or cut into thin strips.
Finely chopped or paste. Add according to your taste. Do not make it too hot.
Need 1 inch stick for tempering.
About 4-6 whole cloves for tempering.
Whole Black Pepper
Need about ½ tsp or 10-12 peppercorns for tempering.
Whole cardamom for tempering.
About 1-2 leaves for tempering.
Clarified butter for tempering. Adds a lovely flavour to the dal.
Use any odourless oil like corn, canola, sunflower.
Hing – optional especially if you want a gluten free dal. Asafoetida usually contains wheat flour. Alternately, use pure asafoetida. If you use that you need very little.
Coriander Cumin Powder
Known also as dhana jiru. Make it at home or use ready made. For homemade version check out this recipe – Dhana Jiru.
Use ready made as it is easily available in most Indian Stores or make it at home. Check out the recipe for Garam Masala.
Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
Required as it adds that lovely red colour to the dal and it usually is not spicy.
Red Chilli Powder
The hot variety, add according to your taste.
Fresh Tomato Puree
Puree fresh tomatoes or use passata. Can also used canned tomato puree but use less quantity as it tends to be too tangy.
Need to use fresh cream as that is the main ingredient for dal makhani. Some people replace it with yogurt.
Need some for tempering and also to add on top after the dal is ready. Use homemade butter if you have any. I use salted butter.
Add according to your taste.
Kasuri Methi is dried fenugreek. It is easily available in most Indian Stores or online.
Dhaniya, cilantro, for garnishing.
- 1 cup whole black grams
- ¼ cup red kidney beans
- 5-6 cups water
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp ghee or oil
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 cup onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp ginger paste or cut into strips
- 1 tsp green chilli paste or 1-2 chillis chopped
- 10 to 12 peppercorns
- 1 one inch cinnamon stick
- 4 - 6 cloves
- 3-4 cardamom
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1-1¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp coriander cumin powder
- ½ tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
- ½ tsp red chilli powder
- ½ cup fresh tomato puree
- ⅛ tsp asafoetida
- 1 tbsp kasuri methi
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cream
- 1-2 tbsp butter
- Soak the lentils and beans overnight in enough warm water or for 6 to 8 hours.
- Drain out the water. Wash the lentils and beans and put them in a pressure cooker with 2 cups of water, 1 tsp cumin seeds and ¼ tsp turmeric powder. Pressure cook over medium heat for 4 to 6 whistles.
- In the meantime prepare the curry or dal. Heat ghee and oil in a pan. When it is hot add the peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, bay leafs, cardamom and remaining cumin seeds. When they begin to sizzle, add asafoetida.
- Add chopped onions and stir fry them till it starts turning light brown in colour.
- Add the garlic, ginger and chilli pastes. Stir fry till the garlic becomes light pink in colour.
- Add remaining turmeric powder, coriander cumin, red chilli powders, garam masala and tomato puree.
- Cook till the mixture becomes thick.
- Mash the cooked lentils lightly. Add the tomato gravy, remaining water and salt to it.
- Mix well and let it simmer over low heat for nearly 20 minutes.
- Stir occasionally so that the dal does not stick at the bottom.
- Add fresh cream. Mix well.
- Garnish with coriander and butter. Serve.
- Most of the dals I prepare are thick. If you want a thinner dal, just add more water.
- Instead of fresh cream, add milk.
- Can do additional tadka (tempering) to pour on top before serving. For this heat a tbsp of ghee, add 1 tsp cumin seeds and 1 tsp red chilli powder (kashmiri as its not hot) and pour over the dal. If you do not have kashmiri chilli powder use normal red chilli powder but do not add in the dal while cooking.
- For fresh tomato puree, wash 1kg of tomatoes. Half them and put them in a saucepan. Add ¼ cup water. Cover the pan. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Let the tomatoes cool down. Liquidize and store in the fridge. Usually keeps good for a whole week in the fridge.
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