You know how there is always this ONE recipe that no matter how hard you try to replicate, you never seem to be able to hit it just right? Somehow, the taste of when you first devoured the dish still lingers on your palate, and even after a dozen of your experimented versions later, you still know that it’s not quite as close to the original. Well for me, I have one too many of those, but a particular Dal Makhani certainly tops that list!
There’s the PERFECT Mee Goreng served by the street hawker down the lane from my Grandma’s house in Malaysia, the spicy Chole garnished with freshly chopped onions and served with giant-sized crisp Bhaturas in Delhi and the most amazingly luscious melt-in-your-mouth Tiramisu served at a corner cafe by the Colosseum in Rome, to name just a few! But of all of them, the ONE recipe that has me searching non-stop for a close flavour duplicate would definitely have to be of Dal Makhani from a little nondescript restaurant in Kuwait.
Growing up, I remember eating off the restaurant’s classic menu once too often. They were especially known for their fantastic and lip-smacking combination of Chicken Tikka, Dal Makhani and Puris. But for me, even as a die-hard Chicken Tikka devotee, it was always their Dal Makhani that did the deed. It’s thick, warm and creamy texture was everything I craved for any time of the year.
Ever since, I have always been on a search for a Dal Makhani that would come close to my childhood indulgence. But alas, none came even near an inch to tasting anything like it. I went high and low, to some of the most fabulous Indian restaurants as well as the local take-out favourites, but none of them could win me over. I had almost given up ordering the dreaded dish until one day my Mom decided to come to my rescue. She played and she toiled a few recipes, added this and subtracted that from the ingredients, and simplified the method to suit her needs, and Voila! What can I say? Now whenever I crave some lip-smacking comfort food, all I do is enter my kitchen. It’s a perfect go-to recipe this time of year, and I need I add, an absolute hit at my Diwali bash last weekend!
Dal Makhani (Creamy Black Lentils)
- 1 tbsp light cooking oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- salt to taste
- 2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 cup whole black lentils and a handful of dried red kidney beans soaked overnight, drained and rinsed thoroughly
- 2 tbsp plain milk
- fresh cilantro leaves chopped for garnish
- water as needed
- Heat oil and butter in a pressure cooker and saute onions till lightly browned. Stir in ginger and garlic pastes, tomato paste, chilli powder and salt, and fry for a few seconds.
- Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few minutes to combine well. Add in pre-soaked lentils and kidney beans, and enough water to cover them. Pressure cook for 15-20 minutes till lentils are soft and done.
- Stir in milk and let it come to a boil.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve warm.
A similar version of this recipe using an Instant Pot or any other electric pressure cooker can be found here.
If you enjoyed this recipe, you will surely like my Instant Pot Everyday Dal and Instant Pot Rajma recipe as well.
Tried this recipe? Leave a Comment and let me know, also Rate it by clicking the number of stars on the recipe card. Want to share your version with me? Tag me on Instagram @hookedonheat
Delicious! This was a really good recipe. Thank you.
My story is very similar to yours…have been trying and trying to recreate that perfect dal makhani till destiny (rather google ;)) led me here! This recipe finally unlocked that charmed secret. 🙂
I must say that not only do you write well, you also have the gift of making food delicious on paper!
Hi. My teenage daughter and I would like to learn some Indian cooking (this recipe in particular). We have only ever eaten Indian food in restaurants but love it, love it, love it. Also, we want to wow our friends, non of whom think we can pull this off.
Can you suggest an easy-to-use beginners cookbook? Any other suggestions?
Teresa and Tasha
Hi Teresa & Tasha! You can definitely start right here with my Indian 101 series. I’ve also written two cookbooks that could help you with many more recipes. Happy cooking! 🙂
I just wanted to let you know that I loved this dal. When I went to India in 2016 I had it then, but I could never get the same taste. This recipe has come very close to it (they use A LOT of butter and cream), but I like how you used only little and no cream……Yah for this recipe. You have a lot more recipes on here that I will definitely try, because this one was a hit. Just wanted to say thank you for this one.
Thanks for sharing the recipe of Daal Makhni. It is very useful .
Never made a nicer daal in my life! Thank you!
I have had my eye on this recipe for years but kept it saved since I wanted to make it correctly in a pressure cooker. Well, last week I finally bought a pressure cooker and this was one of the first recipes I wanted to try. I grew up in India, so a lot of North Indian dishes and the authentic flavors bring back memories of my childhood. I have to say that I just made this dal and it is ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! It is creamy, tomato-y with a hint of garlic flavor from the tempering! I am sooo grateful to you for posting this recipe. The flavors take me back to my childhood and now this dal will be in my daily rotation of dishes I make. Thank you so much!!
Oh my goodness. This has to be the good old KhyberPass/Tikka ‘shop’. Between 1973-1984 it was a weekly affair! Simply The best tikka, Dal and Pooris EVER. Never found a recipe to perfectly match the tikka or the dal. My dal is nearly there but I don’t add the amount of ghee they did. It still lacks the dark depth of the Khyber’s. As for the tikka – it is a quest I am still on.
Hello! I just discovered your website. I recently bought a can of organic black lentils…how would I go about making dahl makhani with these, instead of uncooked lentils? Thank you – looking forward to trying your recipe.
Hi Kelly! You can definitely skip the pressure cooker and cook this on the stove-top. Just adjust the cooking time since the canned lentils are already soft. Also, you will want to omit the dried red kidney beans as well.
Wow! This looks delicious! I have a traditional Dal that I make with red lentils, it’s one of my favorites and I’m looking forward to giving this a try… as soon as I’m able to track down black lentils in Denmark.
Karen Patrick says
This looks so delicious. I am going to make this. Thanks for sharing this recipe.
Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through many of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless,
I’m definitely happy I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking
it and checking back often!
I’ve made this twice, and both times had too much liquid at the end…. should I be soaking both the lentils and the kidney beans, or only the kidney beans? I didn’t want to simmer the dal down after cooking in the pressure cooker. Perhaps 3rd time will be the charm. It’s delicious regardless!
Hi Greg, yes both the lentils and kidney beans need to be soaked overnight – which you can do that together in the same bowl. I’m sorry if it wasn’t clear. Also, make sure you thoroughly rinse the lentils and beans after soaking. Maybe next time try adding in a bit less water in the pressure cooker. Please let me know how it turns out again when you try it. Thanks for commenting!
I don’t have whole black lentils. Can we make use of urad dal instead and follow the same recipe?
You probably can Rashmi, but just keep in mind that it would taste completely different from the original!
Catheline Ash says
I thought whole black lentils, buluga, and Urad were all the same just in different languages. ?? Makhani dal is usually made with Urad dal, or whole black lentils from what I’ve learned. Can you clarify for me and others? Many thanks!!
Yes, you are correct! Dal Makhani is made with whole Urad dal, which is black in color and what I’ve used here. But you can also get Urad dal which is white in colour which is basically the same lentil, just without its black skin.
You should be able to find them in any Indian grocery store, but depending on where you live, they are also easily available in most regular grocery stores nowadays.
Thank you! This is a wonderful recipe. I have seen many for Daal Makhani with a lot of butter and cream but you have proved it’s not necessary. I found your recipe to be very flexible — I boiled brown lentils with canned kidney beans then mixed with the onion paste. I was too lazy to make the garlic butter so I just stirred garlic into the pot. I also made a triple batch and measured quite roughly — delicious!
Thank you and thanks to your mom. This is going into my regular rotation, sharing top place with the red lentil daal from my friend Krishna’s mom.
I use this recipe over and over again! Its simple enough to replicate, and easy to adjust to your preferences. My adjustments:
I add a whole can of tomato paste (smallest size)
turmeric, cumin, curry powder, and red pepper flakes for added heat
1 cube of vegetable bouillon
sometimes I will add shredded carrot for more vegetable content, and a splash of color!
What is the purpose of the kidney beans in this recipe? Is it to form a complete protein? Or is it for taste?
It’s just to add a deeper red colour, as well as enhance the flavour and texture of the dish.
PS would also have more than doubled the chili powder, we didn’t get much heat from the 1 tsp once we’d doubled it.
Hi, stumbled across this recipe and tried it out last night, like everyone else we think its great – I forgot the milk so have to go back and try it again, but my g/f thought it was fantastic. Nice rich and tomatoey and even without the milk, pretty creamy.
Like someone else I just mashed garlic and ginger for the ginger paste and used canned tomatoes, which I wouldn’t think made any difference,
I’d doubled the beans and lentils, so just doubled everything else, I think for some of the ingredients I’d be inclined to triple them. Well I probably did for the tomato paste anyway, didn’t seem worth leaving that little bit in the tin, probably on the edge for the garlic, but the ginger got a little lost, so I’d probably go for a two -3 inch long, thumb sized piece if you’re using it fresh (for a doubled recipe).
My main question was about the tempering. I haven’t come across it in this context, usually just for adding milk or eggs to hot dishes, so like to bridge the heat difference for new ingredients being added to a hot dish.
So how long should the butter and garlic be heated for? I wasn’t that keen on whole raw garlic being added (especially as I’d already added about 4-5 cloves crushed), so cut the garlic into large slices and fried it in the butter till it was all foamy and the garlic seemed cooked. It still tasted great, but just wanted to check how far away we were from the original intention.
For Elizabeth, I definitely wouldn’t keep the water you soaked the beans in. Kidney beans have a toxin that’s removed through the soaking and cooking process. Not sure what retaining that soaking liquid would do for the toxin removal. Just check the amount of water you add to the bean/lentil mix when you add it to the sauce before pressure cooking. I only added a tomato can full of additional water, but I had used canned tomatoes and that had a fair bit of liquid and a whole tin of tomato paste. So just judge it before you put the lid on and made sure its perhaps just a bit more liquidy than you want at the end, as the pressure cooker doesn’t lose much liquid during cooking.
Great recipe. I lived in Kuwait from 1985-1996 and fondly remember the first night the Moghul Mahal reopened after the invasion. Their Adrak Kapanji were to die for. Also their cricket ball sized Samosas were amazing. They catered for many parties at our villa and they never disappointed us. Off to make another batch of Dhal Makani as per your recipe 🙂
Hi Meena, I made this dish last night and it was fantastic, but turned out sweeter than I expected. Is it supposed to be very sweet? I am trying to figure out what I can change next time. Thanks!
I’m not quite sure Angelica. Maybe it could be your tomatoes were too ripe? Also, you can try lowering the amount of milk a bit.
ed hansen says
where to find a crock pot, slow cooker in Kuwait ?
I saw this recipe probably about a year ago, and it looked so amazing, but I didn’t have a pressure cooker, nor a slow cooker. Then my laptop got stolen and I lost the recipe.
But now! I have ordered a pressure cooker, it’s on it’s way to NZ from the USA, and I’m so excited that this will be the first recipe I cook in it!
Tried this black lentil dish at a street market stall in Southampton on Saturday and was blown away by the taste. After enquiring to them about the dish and its contents looked it up on the internet and found your site. Seems many people really like this dish. I am going to give your recipe a try as it seems similar to the way they told me they prepare it, except she added butter at the end. Guess your is a healthier option. I also lived in Kuwait many many years ago and enjoyed the food there immensely especially the fish/prawn dishes due to the lovely fish they have available there. If I ever return to Kuwait I will certainly be visiting the Kyber.
Myrtle Vinyard says
Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is excellent, let alone the content!
Wow! Such an easy recipe to make! Dal makhani became a favourite of mine at a local Philadelphia restaurant. This version is slightly different, equally delicious. I’m not a cook, just my second Indian dish under my belt. But I have great taste in food and this will keep me home and not in the restaurant!
I, too, am curious about doubling the ingredients so I can make a bigger portion. If anyone has tried this, please share!
This recipe doubles up really well, Sean. I NEVER make a single batch! 🙂
Thanks a loooooot…the receipe was just awesome!!!
OMG- Were you trying to replicate Kyber’s Dal Makhani in Kuwait? Because if so, this is a god send.
Karen Schuld says
i love your recipe of dal makhan – One of my favorite lentil dishes
I soak lentils (green/brown because they are easily available), and kidneys in a large container of water with a little salt overnight. It is amazing how much water they absorb. Seems to reduce my cooking time, because I then add them to the slow cooker in which the rest of my ingredients are ready and waiting. Simmered during the day. Took about half of the mixture and creamed in a small food processor then returned to cooker. Ready for the garnish of cilantro for dinner. Wonderful.
it came out very well. had tried making dal makhani with so many different ways, this one won it hands down.
thanks a lot!!!
I cook this recipe regularly… has become my signature dish 🙂 thank you!
Just tried it. Indeed, very very tasty!
I’ve always enjoyed dal makhani as a treat while eating out, but have never made it at home due to the typically high saturated fat content. This version is equally satisfying as its richer counterparts, yet healthy enough to eat on a more regular basis. Thank you for posting this outstanding recipe!
After doing some research last night, I am still unclear as to exactly what type of bean this recipe requires. I believe that dal makhani is supposed to use whole ‘urad’ beans, which I think are also called ‘black lentils’ sometimes. Apparently, there are also actual black lentils, which are not urad beans.
At any rate, I can’t find either type of bean in my area, but I did have a few cups of mung beans on hand. To me, the mung beans look like green version of urad beans, so I used them as a substitute in this recipe for dinner last night. The result was amazing! I’ll still keep looking for urad and/or black lentils when I’m traveling, but I’ll happily make this with mung beans (or maybe adzuki beans) again.
I also bought a pressure cooker for making this dish. Man, I should have done that years ago. I’ve never had luck in the past with dried beans, but the pressure cooker made them quickly and perfectly tender. To those who have asked about the necessity for a pressure cooker, I would say: If you can spare $20 for an entry-level pressure cooker – do it. I got the cheapest one I could find at the local mall, and it worked beautifully. I might need to upgrade to an 8 qt. in the future (this is a 6 qt. model), but I wasn’t ready to spend $100 on the larger in-stock model right now.
Lastly, for anyone who hasn’t worked with it before, consider using ghee instead of ‘normal’ butter. This dish has so little butter, that it’s worth a few extra cents to splurge on the heavenly, nutty flavor of ghee. You’ll notice – and appreciate – the difference.
Thanks, again, for the great recipe.
P.S. Elizabeth (post 58), I had to add water after cooking the beans because mine were too dry. Just stirring in and heating enough water (and a little more skim milk) to bring the level back up to the top of the beans made a delicious gravy, just like the photo on this page. I think the stirring, alone, mashes enough beans to make the gravy.
I made this tonight and it turned out to be beans in a tiny bit of sauce. I think my mistake was draining the beans after they were done cooking and then adding the sauce- should I have kept the cooking water? The whole thing was not creamy as it should have been. Do you ever mash some of the beans for added creaminess?
Wow, it came out really nice, do we have anything else which we can prepare with same dal? any other different recipe?
Mike Sharq says
I worked in Kuwait in the Al-Rashed Building, 3 blocks from Al-Muthana with Khyber in between. 1/2 Tikka, salad, and Dal was at least a once a week affair. Just before I returned to the U.S. the first time, they opened another near the Coast Guard Station by the Pyramid Mosque and my buddies and I from KBR ate there frequently during deployment for the Iraq 2003 invasion.
You’re so right about their Dal. I’m trying your recipe tonight but with added butter and cream. I take Lipitor (LOL)
I’m a Brazilian living in Cleveland, and I love Indian food! I’ve tasted this dish at the Cafe Tandoor and I always wanted to make it! Thank you for the recipe!
I tried this recipe in a slow cooker instead of a pressure cooker and it worked great. The only substitution that I made was 1/2 a can of black beans instead of the dry kidney beans.
Thanks for a great recipe Meenakshi!
I am makng this tonight for my in-laws… 🙂 Hope it turns out just as well as it looks like in your pic… Thanks for the easy recipe…!!!
I just made this today and it’s really delicious. I didn’t have ginger garlic paste so I just mashed up my own ginger and garlic in a mortar and pestle. The texture is also very nice; I like it better than the completely soupy dals. But I would love to try the “loaded with cream and butter” variety someday. 😉
This is so exciting! Daal Makhani is my favorite food! I’m moving to Kuwait in a couple of months to teach and I’m definitely going to go to the restaurant you mentioned! Thank you 🙂
the Daal makhani was excellent, the ingredients blended so well , I am Pakistani there is not concept of Daal makhni but i tried this and it was excellent
Hi, I’m looking for this daal makhani recipe since I tasted it with naan here in Thailand. I’m a filipina engaged to my indian boyfriend and want to make daal makhani for him. Thanks for posting the recipe.
I tried it once and it came out very good. thankyou so much. If I have to double the quantity, would it make sense if I double all the ingredients?
You’ll have to adjust the salt and spices according to your taste Bindiya – doubling them up might be a bit too much.
This is the simplest and the tastiest daal makhani. I always wanted to make daal makhani as my husband loves it, but used to think it would be difficult. But this recipe is pretty simple and tasty.
I have made it 2 times and it has turned out really good each time. I will be making this again for my potluck dinner tomorrow.
Thank you so much for sharing it with everyone!
This is by far THE BEST dal we have ever tasted, much less made ourselves! Taste of India in Minneapolis has a black lentil dal that comes close – but this is the cats pajamas!
This recipe is absolutely fantastic! I just started living by myself and also cooking but i am enjoying the process of learning. The best thing about this recipe is that it is flavorful and does not use heavy cream etc which some recipes suggest…. but i have a problem my kitchen and house always smell of spices when i cook indian food…..if anyone has any suggestions to prevent this it would be great!
Buttonwillow Six says
Looks delicious! Do you think this could be made with pre-cooked lentils? (asks the girl with a bag of Trader Joe’s pre-cooked lentils)
I’m guessing you definitely could, just cook it in a normal pot instead of a pressure cooker and lower the cooking time by half. Do let me know how it went.
thanks Meena for such a yummy looking recipe. I’m going to make it tonight. Hubby loves Dal makhani when we eat at my MIL’s house or in resaurant, now it’s my turn.
Thanks again for the simpler version.
Thank you for this recipe – I have been looking for a simple one for years. It is my husband’s favourite and I made it very successfully once, then lost the recipe! The only trouble is we are trying to eat less fat and salt. Have you any tips for this recipe?
got it just right the second batch around. made a few variations but that’s what it’s all about.
this was just what i was looking for. thanks. off to give it a try.
I tried this recipe and love it! I have three children 4 and under, so I don’t have a lot of time. I used canned organic lentils and canned chopped tomatoes to cut my time in half. I just tasted it and it is very yummy. I’m sure it tastes even better your way. Thanks, Heather
Is there another name for black lentils? what would the Indian name for them be? We also got addicted to Dal Makhni here in Kuwait…but at Mughal Mahal. Been looking for the recipe ever since…Thanks so much!
They’re called Kali Urad in Hindi Roxanne, it should be easily available at Indian grocery stores. Mmm… Mughal Mahal was a favourite pit-stop for their Biryani!
Can anyone please tell me, how this CREAMY BLACK LENTILS look like.., I wanna prepare this dish, its so rich.
Is There a way to make this without the pressure cooker? Can it be cooked in a crockpot all day?
thanks for the lovely recipe.
Rasa Malaysia says
Hah, I know about mee goreng!!! I could never get it right…despite multiple attempts. I think they are not telling us the secret ingredients in those pot of red-color sauce filled with cuttlefish!!! 😉
can I use red chori instead of black lentils?
i totally understand about a dish we cannot really replicate elsewhere 🙂
Hi! I wondered if you have any recipes that use fresh fenugreek/methi that you would share. I have never ever seen it fresh in our stores and yesterday, there it was staring back at me, so I had to buy it, now to use it! Thanks!
which is this non-descript place in kuwait??????? can you believe that i am seeing your blog after ages and it is just before dinner in kuwait city. am here for a business trip. the coincidence is too much. now if you had only mentioned the name of the restaurant, i might be tasting this famous dal makhani and making you very jealous 🙂
I dont like daal but I love daal makni..will try your recipe! You said in your intro to the recipe on how you love chicken tikka, do post your recipe if you have a favourite one. Its my favourite Indian dish!
What a lovely picture & recipe too!
Wow your version looks so perfect. Creamy & delightful.
Everybody has their own versions of daal makhani. I really like the one which does not show the daal at all, its all mashed up!!
I was just wondering what to make with the canned black lentils that I have. Thanks for this awesome recipe.
Yes Meena, that is a plate of perfection. I truly wish I could taste it.
Looks Incredibly Delicious and Mouth Watering !!
Sounds wonderful – do you have an alternative method for those who do not have a pressure cooker?
Hi Lisa! I haven’t really tried making this without a pressure cooker, since it would take ages on the stove and you might have to keep adding water to prevent it from drying, which in turn would dilute its wonderful flavour. You could definitely make it in a slow cooker. Just do the cooking in a deep pan, and once you’re ready to add the soaked lentils, pour the contents into a slow cooker, letting it cook for 4 hours on low. Let me know how it turned out if you decide to try it.
This looks absolutely amazing. I am going to try it this weekend.
First time on your blog – the photographs are beautiful, and food presentation is also really eye-catching. I hope you get your book deal soon!
I love dal makhani! Do you think I could make this on the stove instead of a pressure cooker?
Hi Vicki! I haven’t really tried making this without a pressure cooker, since it would take ages on the stove and you might have to keep adding water to prevent it from drying, which in turn would dilute its wonderful flavour. You could definitely make it in a slow cooker. Just do the cooking in a deep pan, and once you’re ready to add the soaked lentils, pour the contents into a slow cooker, letting it cook for 4 hours on low. Let me know how it turned out if you decide to try it.
doesn’t makhan mean fat? i’m surprised there isn’t more butter/cream/milk in this dish…pleasantly surprised, that is! now i can enjoy it without guilt.
Makhan actually means butter, and this dish is traditionally made with loads of butter and cream. This recipe is much less fat version due to the minimal butter and milk used. Hope you enjoy it!
thank you for posting this! it’s my absolute favorite food!
Looks absolutely gorgeous. I made Dal Makhini a while back too and it was just dreammmmmy. Love your version – perfect for the mingle.
Hi Meena.. Are you talking about Khyber’s dal makhani ?? Or if it is some other place let me know, I’ll have one for you!! Nice recipe there, thanks for the same. Angela
Hi Angela, YESSS!!! I am talking about Khyber! Are you from Kuwait too? I can’t wait for my next trip there, plan to load up on their food!
I’m a recent addict to dal makhani, but always thought it needed hours and hours of cooking and stirring….you make it so simple…and it looks perfect…cant wait to try it out…
A reason to go out and buy a pressure cooker! Thanks, Meena – it looks amazing. I can never get up the courage to make urad or other lentils, but I will try your dal makhani this weekend. Thanks, and Saal Mubarak!!
A pressure cooker is a wonderful thing to have Christine, right next to the slow cooker. You’d be surprised how quick it cooks some of the tougher lentils, beans and not to mention meat!
i always have this in restaurent but i never tryed at home and your recipe and pic both looks sooo yummyyyyyy i will defenetly try this recipe at home
This looks delightful. And it seems so light and flavorful. Many thanks!
my all time….all time fav thing on earth!!!
Simple indian food says
Dal Makhani is an all time favourtie dal and urs looks perfect
God bless you, Meenakshi. I kept looking for dal makhani recipes and wasn’t convinced about them. Now that my favorite food writer has given her own, simple-sounding recipe, I’m going to try this tomorrow!!
I have never used black lentils for this dish! Time to try! 🙂 luks yum! I luv dal makhani
this does look perfect. thanks for the recipe. i hate those things with an oil slick on the top.
It drives me crazy when there’s a dish like that, my friends mom cooks food that I can never replicate or get anywhere else…It’s horrible! I crave it like crazy! The dal looks great 🙂
This is awesome and very tasty and yummy …..
Yup! This does sound and look perfect Meena:) Hope you had a great Diwali, and belated wishes!!
Wow this sounds fabulous, I really have to get a pressure cooker! Otherwise this would take hours..