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.
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?
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
Soak the lentils for at least 12 hours. As the black urad dal lentils soak, they will rehydrate and plump up.
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.
Strain the cooked lentils into a bowl and retain all of the cooking liquid. This will be added to the dal makhani too.
Returning to your pot, heat the oil and fry the onions for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.
Stir in the garlic and ginger followed by the chopped tomatoes. Then stir in the ground spices.
Cover with some of the cooking liquid and add the cooked lentils.
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!
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 these popular dals too…
- 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
- 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.
- Strain the lentils, reserving the cooking water, and set it all aside.
- 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.
- Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and fry for about 30 seconds before adding the chopped tomatoes and the spices.
- 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.
- Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, adding more strained stock if needed, The Makhani dal should be thick and soupy.
- To finish, season with salt. I recommend about 2 teaspoons which I think works really well but add it to taste.
- 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.
- 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.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 156Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 1012mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 4g