Dal Makhani Restaurant Style, a creamy buttery lentil stew made of black whole urad dal and kidney beans, slow cooked and simmered to get a delicious rich dal….. ideally enjoyed with naan or roti, but you can also enjoy this delicacy with steamed rice.
Every culture and cuisine has its comfort food. For most Indians, it’s definitely some form of dal or lentil stew. Dal is so synonymous with the Indian cuisine. From a very simple dal to the rich and delicious dal makhani, Indian cuisine has so many recipes using dal. Dal makhani is quite simple to make but time-consuming.
Origin of Dal Makhani:
Dal makhani is one of the most renowned dishes not only in India but across the globe. This creamy melt-in-your-mouth rich delicacy has its root in the Punjab region. This dish was created by the famous Kundan Lal of the Motimahal restaurant. He is the founder of the famous Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani. It is said that he wanted to create a creamy vegetarian dish perhaps out of a desire to do a shahi dal to go with the array of non-vegetarian food prepared in his kitchen. He used the same makhani sauce as the base and added a combination of urad dal, rajma and channa dal. This gave birth to the most popular vegetarian dish of India.
What is Dal Makhani?
Dal Makhani is a very famous Indian lentil preparation which literally translates to Buttery lentils. A stew made of black whole urad dal and kidney beans, slow cooked and simmered to get a delicious rich dal. It is a Punjabi recipe which is very delicious and flavourful and is loaded with ghee, butter and cream. Just like a non-vegetarian vouches for Butter Chicken, a vegetarian feels the same way about its vegetarian counterpart, the Dal Makhani.
How is Authentic Dal Makhani prepared?
Traditionally, the process of making dal makhani takes almost a day from start to finish. In olden days, Dal Makhnai used to be cooked overnight traditionally over wood fire on very low heat. It gave the dal a very nice smoky flavour and creamy texture as a result of long slow cooking. In modern times, due to lack of time and also wooden fires, we prefer to cook it in modern equipments like pressure cooker or instant pot to save time and energy. So we get almost the same result with less time. To give the dal that smoky flavour, I have given below an alternate method, the Dungar Method. So, please read along and refer to that tip.
What are the Ingredients needed for Dal Makhani?
- The most important ingredient to make Dal Makhani is Sabut urad or whole black lentils. You can buy it from any Indian grocery store or even online.
- Some red kidney beans aka Rajma is always added to it. You can use dried kidney beans and soak them along with urad or even use drained and washed canned beans….But, I always prefer fresh ones!!
- Some people like to add a little chana dal to the Dal Makhani as it makes it even more creamier. But, I do not!!
- Though I always prefer to use fresh produce, there are very few dishes I compromise and go for canned ones, this is one such dish. Using canned tomato puree to make Dal Makhni gives a nice taste & hue to the dal as it has a more concentrated flavour.
- The rest of the ingredients are: Onion, green chillies, ginger garlic paste , whole dry spices and spice powders like coriander powder, cumin powder, kashmiri red chilli powder, garam masala powder etc are used to make this makhni dal.
- Last but not the least, since it is Dal Makhani, how can I forget Ghee, Butter and Cream !!
Steps to follow to prepare
Dal Makhani Recipe Restaurant Style:
Soaking & Cooking Lentils:
1- Wash and rinse urad dal (whole black gram dal) and rajma (kidney beans) a couple of times in a large bowl. Soak in 4 cups of water (until covered) for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
2- Then, rinse and drain the water. Transfer the lentils to a pressure cooker.
3- Add 1 teaspoon salt and water enough to cover the dal.
4- Pressure cook for about 10-12 minutes on medium high heat for about 8-10 whistles. Simmer and cook on low heat for another 10-12 minutes. Basically, cook until they are soft and almost mushy.
5- Let the pressure release naturally. Once the pressure subsides, open the lid to see if the rajma is totally soft. Mash the dals with the back of a ladle. In case you feel that the dal is not cooked, then you might need to pressure cook again for few more whistles.
6- Transfer cooked lentils to a bowl and set aside for later use.
Let’s prepare gravy/masala for Dal Makhani:
7- In a pan, over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon ghee and 2 tablespoons butter. Once it is hot, add all of the whole spices – cumin seeds, bay leaves, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick.
8- Once you get a nice aroma, add in finely chopped onion and 2 slit green chillies.
9- Sauté until the onions become translucent. Add ginger garlic paste and sauté until the raw smell goes away.
10- Now, add tomato puree and the concentrated tomato paste. Sauté until the raw smell from the tomato goes away. This may take about about 10 -12 minutes.
11- Now, add coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder, salt and sugar.
12- Mix well and fry them for a couple of minutes until the oil separates and the masala is almost dried.
Adding cooked lentils & cooking with the masala:
13- Now, add the cooked dal.
14- Mix well until combined.
15- Add 1.5 to 2 cups of water. Keep stirring and mash some of the lentils with the back of the ladle. This helps in thickening the gravy a bit and also gives that creamy texture to the dal.
16- Keep the heat low and simmer it for about 20 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally to make sure that dals don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Also mash in between and add water as and when needed if you think dal is too thick. Add in half of the cream and mix well.
17- As you keep stirring it becomes creamy and thick. Check for salt and adjust. Then, add 1/2 tablespoon butter and stir well. Simmer it for another 5 minutes.
18- Finally before turning off the heat, add the cream and kasuri methi. Crush the kasuri methi between you palms before adding. Turn off the heat, garnish with coriander leaves and some more cream.
How to get the smoky flavour to the dal?
- If you love the smoky dhaba style dal makhani then, you should go on ahead with the charcoal smoking step to give the smoke or dhungar to the dal.
- Using tongs, heat a piece of charcoal (referred to as lump charcoal) on open flame till it gets red hot.
- Place a small bowl or a piece of aluminium foil on the top the dal in the pot.
- Drizzle a teaspoon of ghee on the charcoal. You will see smoke coming out.
- Immediately cover the pot with lid to trap the smoke and allow the dal to absorb the smoky flavour. Keep it covered for 1-2 minutes only. Leave it longer if you want more smoky flavour.
- Then open the lid, remove the bowl with charcoal using tongs and discard the coal.
- Smoky flavoured dal makhani is ready now ready to be to served.
What to serve Dal Makhani Restaurant Style with?
You can serve Dal Makhani with Jeera rice, roti, paratha or naan. It also tastes great with plain steamed rice. Dal makhani tastes best when served the next day after it’s made. So, you can make it a day before you want to serve it to bring out maximum flavour.
How to make Instant Pot Dal Makhani?
Instant Pot is a great gadget to make Dal Makhani as well. It’s done in one pot and mess free without compromising much in taste or the texture. In short, here is how to make Dal Makhani in an Instant pot. You can use the SAUTE mode to do all the open cooking and the PRESSURE MODE to pressure cook dal. If using the Instant pot, pressure cook the lentils on high pressure for 30 minutes with natural pressure release.
I will do a detailed post of the instant pot version sometime later!! If you have a crock pot or a slow cooker, you can try that as well.
Can we make Dal Makhani without Onion and Garlic?
You can definitely make Dal Makhani without adding onion and garlic. And the best part what I found is that it comes out just as delicious. To make no onion no garlic dal makhani, the only thing we need to do here is to skip the garlic paste and onions. But you can go ahead and add just the ginger paste. The rest of the process remains the same.
Can we make Dal Makhni recipe without cream?
When making Dal makhani for everyday meals, I try to reduce or sometimes even avoid the butter and omit cream. If at all, I add a little milk. By no means are you cutting back on the flavour but trying to keep it light and simple.
But, while preparing for any special occasion, I do add cream and butter as needed. Experiment both ways and see the difference for yourself. Undoubtedly, addition of butter and cream takes the flavour of this dish to the next level making it more creamy and rich….after all, the name says it all !!
How to make Vegan Dal Makhani?
You can make a vegan version of this dal by substituting ghee and butter with oil and cashew paste. Soak some cashew nuts in hot water and blend to make a smooth paste. Use this paste in place of cream and you have your vegan dal makhani.
Kasuri Methi, The secret ingredient !!
This is such magical secret ingredient not only for this gravy but for most north Indian dishes. It’s unbelievable, how much this little herb elevates the flavour of any dish. But, do remember that Kasuri methi should always be added only at the end of the cooking of a recipe or after turning off the heat.
Do you know the Secret Of Dal Makhani Restaurant Style & Dhaba Style?
I was shocked to know the secret behind the authentic restaurant style dal makhani recipe. Did you know that it is not prepared the same day when they usually serve it to customers? Yes, they cook it a day earlier to enhance the taste of the dal as it blends with all the spices and butter.
The Dhaba version of Dal Makhani is actually made without adding cream to it. The next day before serving, they reheat with some butter, add a dash of kasuri methi and the dal is again slow cooked and a second tempering of ghee with spices is given over the dal just before serving.
In dhabas and some restaurants, you will find that, they also give coal smoke or dhungar to the dal. If you love the smoky dhaba style dal makhani then I would suggest you to go ahead with the charcoal smoking step explained above.
Dal Makhani Restaurant Style | Punjabi Dal Makhani Recipe
To Pressure Cook:
- 1 Cup Whole Black Gram Urad Dal
- ¼ Cup Red Kidney Beans Rajma
- 1 tsp Salt
- 5 Cups Water
Masala for the Dal:
- 1 Tbsp Ghee
- 2 Tbsp Butter + 1Tbsp, for later Optional
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 inch Cinnamon Stick
- 3 Cloves
- 2 Black Cardamom Badi Elaichi
- 1 Large Onion finely chopped
- 2 Green Chillies slit lengthwise
- 1 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
- 3/4 Cup Tomato Puree
- 1/2 tsp Concentrated Tomato Paste Optional
- 1 Tbsp Coriander Powder
- 1 tsp Cumin Powder
- 2 tsp Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder Or as per taste
- ¼ Garam Masala Powder
- 1/2 tsp Sugar
- Salt To Taste
- 2 Cups Water or as needed
- ¼ Cup Fresh Cream Or ½ Cup Whole Milk
- 2 Tbsp Kasuri Methi
- A Piece of charcoal to giv dal a smoky flavour (Optional)
- Fresh Cream Nut Cream For Vegan Version
- Coriander Leaves
Pressure Cooking Lentils:
- Wash and rinse urad dal (whole black gram dal) and rajma (kidney beans) a couple of times in a large bowl. Soak in enough water (until covered) for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
- Then, rinse and drain the water. Transfer the lentils to a pressure cooker. Add 1 teaspoon salt and water enough to cover the dal.
- Pressure cook for about 10-12 minutes on medium high heat for about 8-10 whistles. Simmer and cook on low heat for another 10-12 minutes. Basically, cook until they are soft and almost mushy.
- Let the pressure release naturally. Once the pressure subsides, open the lid to see if the rajma is totally soft. Mash the dals with the back of a ladle. In case you feel that the dal is not cooked, then you might need to pressure cook again for few more whistles.
- Transfer cooked lentils to a bowl and set aside for later use.
- In a pan, over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon ghee and 2 tablespoons butter. Once it is hot, add all of the whole spices – cumin seeds, bay leaves, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick.
- Once you get a nice aroma, add in finely chopped onion and 2 slit green chillies.
- Sauté until the onions become translucent. Add Ginger Garlic Paste and sauté until the raw smell goes away.
- Now, add tomato puree and the concentrated tomato paste. Sauté until the raw smell from the tomato goes away. This may take about about 10 -12 minutes.
- Now, add coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder, salt and sugar.
- Mix well and fry them for a couple of minutes until the oil separates and the masala is almost dried.
- Now, add the cooked dal and mix well until combined.
- Add 1.5 to 2 cups of water. Keep stirring and mash some of the lentils with the back of the ladle. This helps in thickening the gravy a bit and also gives that creamy texture to the dal.
- Keep the heat low and simmer it for about 20 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally to make sure that dals don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Also mash in between and add water as and when needed if you think dal is too thick.
- Add in half of the cream and mix well. As you keep stirring it becomes creamy and thick. Check for salt and adjust. Then, add 1/2 tablespoon butter and stir well. Simmer it for another 5 minutes.
- Finally before turning off the heat, add the cream and kasuri methi. Crush the kasuri methi between you palms before adding.
- Turn off the heat, garnish with coriander leaves and some more cream.
- Serve with naan, roti, Jeera rice or you can also enjoy with plain steamed rice.
- Soak the lentils for a minimum 6 to 8 hours to get the best texture.
- The lentils must be well cooked and almost mashed. This is key in achieving a creamy texture.
- You can also make this Dal Makhani in an Instant Pot, crock pot or slow cooker.
- Don’t skimp on adding butter or ghee (oil for vegan).
- Swap butter/ghee with vegetable oil. Use nut butter, cashew cream or almond cream instead of milk cream for vegan version.
- You may use 1 cup urad dal only in case you don't have or like kidney beans in your dal. You can also add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chana dal if you wish to.
- If you don’t want to use or can't find store bought tomato puree, you may blanch 2 large tomatoes, remove skin, puree it and use in the recipe. But in that case do not skip to add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste to give it that rich flavour.
- Simmering the dal on low heat is the key to a good dal makhani. The dish gets its richness and flavour from simmering it for a long time. The more you simmer, the tastier it is. I highly recommend simmering for about an hour or at least a minimum of 30 minutes.
- 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. It might take even longer. Once cooked, lentil should be really soft.
- Use Kashmiri red chilli powder as it is very mild and will not make the dal too spicy. At the same time it gives a nice colour to the dal.
- Use Dungar method to give a smoky flavour to the dal. Refer to detailed recipe.
- As different pressure cookers have different cooking time, adjust accordingly.
- As soon as you add cream and kasuri methi, remove from heat. Do not keep it for a longer time.
- This Dal Makhani is even more delicious the next day, so it is perfect meal prep for the week.
I have tried to answer a few commonly asked questions during my cooking workshops…Hope they will be useful!! Also, do check out my NOTES in the recipe card. If you still haven’t found an answer to your question…in case you have some tips for me, feel free to drop in the comment section.
Hope you enjoyed my take on Dal Makhani Restaurant Style. Do check out other Lentil Recipes, Indian Vegetarian Recipes and Regional Indian Cuisines from blog!!
Many more to come!!…..STAY TUNED!!
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I ma simply just drooling by looking at the pictures here 🙂 The dal makhani seems perfectlt thick and creamy in texture. I would love to pair with some hot chapati and onion slices 😉
Mouth watering combinationa and exciting to see
i can get it easily done with the step by step recipe with Images. Totally appreciate the effoert to taking pics at every step
Dal Makhani is flavoursome and it is one of the favourites at home. Your dish looks so delicious and a nice detailed post Padma
Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey
Daal Makhni is an all-time favourite at home, we make especially on Saturday. Padma, you have gone the extra mile to create this post, very fined and detailed post that no one can go wrong to make this recipe. Well done girl!
Always a favorite at home. Yours look absolutely gorgeous and luscious, full of flavors. Even I make it many atimes and its always a hit.
Love the creamy and smoked dals are the best. Till recently I never tried dal makhani as I believed it was “masalaedar” only now when we went for The Blogging Marathon Group Meet one of our members made the dal makhani. I fell in love with it and kept going in for seconds and thirds.
I love the pics and the delicious explanation you have given here. it is not too”masaledar” also.:D Will definitely be making it for my family.
I am just drooling looking at the pictures. I love the authentic Dal Makhani especially the dhaba style. I have never tried using charcoal for the smoky flavor. I must give it a try. What a beautiful recipe and love it.
Dal makhni recipe always tops the list at my place. It is most loved lentil i believe. Lived your detailed recipe with beautiful pictures. Giving dhungaar certainly adds its own charm to this and makes it more desirable.
Dal Makhanai is a favorite at home and your stunning pics are tempting me to make it again for this chilly weather with some Naan.. loved the detailed stepwise recipe
Beautifully made dal makhani and such gorgeous clicks. I wish I could eat it right off the screen 🙂 This is such a classic Indian dish and now I’m tempted to make it soon.
Beautiful presentation of dal makhani, makes it so so tempting. Love how creamy it is and just look at that beautiful colour of the curry. My family is a huge fan of dal makhani with hot rotis.
Padma, I love your detailed recipe and the dhungar method of cooking this aromatic and iconic dish. The color of your dal and the masala denotes how delicious this dal must be. Such a protein rich dish too!
I wish I could give more than 5 ratings for this!! This curry looks and sounds like a super delicious dal to indulge in everyday! Your clicks and the detailed post about the origin and method is bang on and I love it!!! Thanks for sharing dear!