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Dal Makhani
दाल मखनी
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30 min
3 h
4 h
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About this dish

This restaurant favourite is a slow-cooked dal recipe. Dal makhani literally translates to creamy or buttery dal, a consistency which is achieved by simmering whole urad dal or maa ki dal on low heat for a long period of time. In most good restaurants, this dal is slow-cooked overnight while my grandmother always told me of times where she would start simmering the dal early in the morning so that it's ready in time for dinner. Slow cooking the dal does wonders to its texture and adds a wonderful nutty flavour to the dish.

In most modern homes, however, people don't often cook this dal for 8+ hours but use pressure cookers to cook the dal quickly for convenience and then simmer it on low heat for 30-45 minutes with the tomato masala so that all the flavours can come together.

The result is a smokey, creamy and tangy dal that is rich and goes well with almost anything. It can be eaten with naan and grilled or tandoori dishes like tandoori chicken, paneer tikka and kebabs but goes just as well with humble roti or a bowl of steamed basmati rice.

  • 250g or 1 cup whole urad dal (whole black lentils)
  • 50g or 1/4 cup kidney beans
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 25g ginger
  • 2 green chillies
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 2 indian bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
Spiced Tomato Purée
  • 500g ripe tomatoes or tomato purée/passata
  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch asafoetida
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder or sweet paprika powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp or to taste salt
Makhan (finishes touches)
  • 30g butter
  • 15g or 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp fenugreek leaves
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 120ml or 1/2 cup fresh cream

The Lentils

  1. Soak the dal and beans mixture overnight (or for at least 8 hours) in plenty of water. The lentils will double in size once soaked and will be much easier to cook. Don't skip this step.
  2. Drain the lentils from the soaking water and give them a rinse.
  3. In a pressure cooker add the soaked drained lentils to the lentils, add 1200ml of water. Then add the whole spices - black cardamom, bay leaves a teaspoon of salt. Then add the aromatics - a finely chopped onion, sliced ginger and slit green chillies.
  4. Cook the lentils till they are completely soft. This took 35 mins in the pressure cooker on medium-low heat. If cooking in a regular pot, this could take up to 4 hours at medium-low heat.

Spiced Tomato Purée

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the spiced tomato purée.

  1. If using fresh tomatoes, roughly chop them in smaller pieces and purée them in a blender till smooth. Skip if using passata or bottled tomato purée.
  2. In a heavy bottom pot, add the ghee. Once the ghee is hot add the cumin seeds and asafoetida.
  3. Once the cumin seeds splutter and have flavoured the oil, add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the ginger and garlic no longer smell raw.
  4. Then add the spices - red chilli powder and garam masala. Roast the spices for 30 seconds to release their aromas but be careful not to burn them.
  5. De-glaze the pan with the puréed tomatoes and add the salt. Cook this masala on low heat **into a thick reduction without a lid till all the water from the tomatoes has evaporated. You should be able to see the oil releasing from the sides. That's when you know it's ready.
  6. Once your tomato purée has reduced to a thick paste, add it in the cooked lentils and beans along with their cooking liquid.


Slow cooking the lentils on low heat helps the flavours blend together and gives this dal a smokey flavour and extra creamy texture.

  1. Simmer the lentils with the tomato purée on low heat with the lid on for atleast 45 minutes.
  2. Check on the lentils from time to time and give them a stir. You may have to add some water if it thickens up too much.

The Makhan

This wouldn't be called dal makhani if not for generous amounts of "makhan" - butter and cream, that are added to it at the end.

  1. In a small pot, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the chopped garlic and fry till golden brown.
  2. Once the garlic is golden brown, turn off the heat. Add the kasoori methi and garam masala to the garlic butter.
  3. Add the spiced garlic butter to the simmering dal.
  4. Before serving, turn off the heat and stir in the fresh cream.

Garnish with a dollop of fresh cream and a sprinkling of kasoori methi. Enjoy with naan, roti or basmati rice and some pickled onions.