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Dal Makhani

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Dal Makhani just like you get at the best Indian restaurants!

Butter, creamy, deliciously spiced, what’s not to like about dal makhani? You are much more likely to see dal classics like tarka dal on curry house menus but a hot bowl of dal makhani is something special.  This easy dal makhani recipe takes some time to prepare and cook but it’s worth the effort. Actually, it’s not a lot of effort at all. It’s more of a waiting game. This is probably why you won’t find this dal on many menus other than higher end Indian restaurants. 

Dal Makhani

Dal makhani the way it should be! Try this.

About this dal makhani recipe…

This recipe first featured in my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Easy’ and then later in ‘The Curry Guy Bible’. It was only after seeing it made many times that I came up with this recipe. You are going to love the creamy smooth texture and the buttery flavour is incredible with all those complimentary spices.

T0 get this dal makhani right, however, you need a bit of patience. There is no rushing the required soaking or cooking time! Many chefs have tried but this popular dal simply isn’t the same if not completely cooked.

It takes 4 hours to cook the lentils on the stove but you can cook them in an electric pressure cooker in a fraction of the time. All is explained below.

Which dal is most commonly served at restaurants?

As mentioned above, you are far more likely to see tarka dal served at restaurants because of the red (masoor) and/or yellow (chana) lentils used. Red dal can be cooked in under 30 minutes and chana dal only takes about 40 minutes. Both dals only need to soak for about half an hour.
Makhani dal, on the other hand is made with whole black (urad) lentils. These lentils need to soak for at least 12 hours and it takes 4 hours to cook them until soft and creamy. This process is all shown in the photos below. So you can probably see why it is that they don’t feature on many low cost curry house menus. 
Luckily, this dal makhani recipe will get you creamy smooth dal like you get at the best Indian restaurants. 

My first real bowl of dal makhani

So many people love dal makhani so it is little wonder that chefs wishing to please their customers feature it on their menus. I tried it a few times at restaurants in the UK and didn’t think much of it. What were people thinking? Why did they think dal makhani was so good?

While in Mumbai researching recipes for my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Easy’, I went into a Punjabi restaurant and ordered some dal makhani as a side for a few mains. It was amazing! When I asked the chef how he got it so creamy smooth, he invited me back to the kitchens where a huge pot of black dal was simmering away.

He told me how it had been simmering for 6 hours and that a proper dal makhani needs to simmer for at least 4 hours. So when I got home I tried it and it worked! Since then, I have had many deliciously cooked dal makhanis at restaurants in the UK. As the delicious dal catches on, people know what it should be like and restaurants have had to step up and cook it correctly.

Dal makhani in India

People in India love their dal. In some families, dal is served with every meal. They don’t limit themselves to the dal that is most popular in the west.

Because of the time it takes to cook, dal makhani is still something for special occasions. That said, the use of pressure cookers is much more common in India and they can cook their dal makhani a lot quicker than using the one pot stove method. 

Cooking makhani dal in an electric pressure cooker.

This makes a lot of sense as it greatly reduces the cooking time. Electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot Duo Crisp Air Fryer has been an excellent addition to my collection of kitchen tools.

To cook the lentils, place them in your electric pressure cooker and pressure cook on high for 20 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes for the pressure cooker to come up to heat and start cooking.

After cooking on high for 20 minutes, allow the pressure to naturally release for another 10 minutes. Then manually release the pressure. Your black lentils will be cooked to perfection. Carry on with the recipe as written. 

How to make one pot dal makhani

Ingredients for dal makhani

It’s always best to get all your ingredients ready before starting cooking.

Step 1.

Lentils soaking

Soak the lentils for at least 12 hours. As the black urad dal lentils soak, they will rehydrate and plump up. 

Step 2.

Simmering dal

Simmer the lentils for about 4 hours or until fall apart tender. Don’t rush this! You should literally be able to easily smash the cooked lentils between two fingers.

Step 3.

Cooked black lentils

Strain the cooked lentils into a bowl and retain all of the cooking liquid. This will be added to the dal makhani too. 


Frying onions.

Returning to your pot, heat the oil and fry the onions for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.

Step 5.

Adding garlic, ginger and tomatoes to pot.

Stir in the garlic and ginger followed by the chopped tomatoes. Then stir in the ground spices.

Step 6.

Adding lentils to the pan

Cover with some of the cooking liquid and add the cooked lentils.

Step 7.

finished dal makhani

Simmer for another 10 minutes and the stir in the butter and cream. Check for seasoning and add salt to taste.

When it comes to the butter and cream, do this to taste. Butter and cream taste great in pretty much everything. So if you want your dal makhani to be super buttery and creamy, that’s how it’s done. That and the naturally creamy, cooked lentils, of course!

Dal Makhani

Dig in!

Can dal makhani be frozen?

Yes. I do recommend, however, freezing it before adding the cream and butter which don’t freeze well. 

You can then defrost the cooked dal makhani and add the butter and cream just before serving. 

If you like this dal makhani recipe, you might like to try some of the Indian Vegetarian favourites.

Dum Aloo
Pakistani Chickpea Biryani
Punjabi Saag Curry
Punjabi Rajma
Butternut Squash Curry
Sri Lankan Green Beans Curry
Aloo Gobi
Saag Paneer
Onion Pakora Curry
Chana Saag Curry
Potato Curry
Mushroom Curry
Masala Corn
Gobi Manchurian
Bombay Potatoes
Masala Dosa
Saag Aloo
Tandoori Hummus
Tarka Dal
Masoor Dal
Chana Dal
Homemade Poppadoms From Scratch
Green Bean Thoran
Cabbage Thoran

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Yield: 4 - 6

Black Lentil Dhal - A Punjabi Dish You Are Sure To Love

Dal Makhani
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes


  • 200g (7oz) black urad dal, soaked overnight in cold water
  • 5 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 250ml (1 cup) single cream
  • Chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve


  1. In a large saucepan over a low-medium heat, simmer the urad dall in water until fall-apart soft. You will need to top up the water from time to time while the lentils cook. After 3 -4 hours of simmering, the lentils will be perfectly soft.
  2. Strain the lentils, reserving the cooking water, and set it all aside.
  3. Wash out the pot and place it over a medium-high heat. When visibly hot, stir in the chopped onions and fry for about 10 minutes until soft and lightly browned.
  4. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and fry for about 30 seconds before adding the chopped tomatoes and the spices.
  5. Cook for another minute, then add about 125ml )1/2 cup of the strained lentil stock. Bring it to a simmer and then add the cooked lentils.
  6. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, adding more strained stock if needed, The Makhani dal should be thick and soupy.
  7. To finish, season with salt. I recommend about 2 teaspoons which I think works really well but add it to taste.
  8. Makhani means butter, so you can't leave that out. I recommend using about 3 tablespoons but if you don't want to use that much, the dal will still be delicious.
  9. Stir most of it into the dal and then add whatever is left over to melt on top and sprinkle with the chopped coriander (cilantro) and you are ready to serve your masterpiece.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 156Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 1012mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 4g

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