Punjabi Dal Makhani

Slow cooked black Dal with garlic, tomato, butter & garam masala

Black Dal Makhani

Everybody loves a basic tadka Dal as part of an Indian meal. A bowl of warm dal, rice topped with ghee is comfort food and even makes a perfect accompaniment to any meal. But when we think of slow cooked creamy Dal Makhani it’s in a league of its own. A traditional lentil dish that’s part of most Indian meals at weddings and special occasions. Essentially a recipe hailing from the north of India with influences from the Peshawar Punjabi community after partition, it now sits well in Mughlai/ north Indian restaurant menus across India and worldwide.

Most commonly used lentils in Indian cooking include toor dal, channa dal and moong dal amongst others. There are over 50 varieties but one that’s key to a classic Dal Makhani is urad dal also known as black lentils.

My recipe is one I’ve adapted from a family recipe during my travels to Amritsar 11 years ago. Using tomatoes instead of yoghurt for a rich tangy flavour is the base of this recipe although I also add a little bit of tomato puree to thicken the dal and add richness that you are looking for in a restaurant style Dal Makhani.

There are loads of recipes for a slow cooked black dal that include only urad dal without including any other lentil or pulses in addition to it. Urad dal is a lentil that thrives on slow cooking; the longer it cooks the richer the Dal Makhani is. In places like Bukhara (ITC Delhi) synonymous for its Dal Bukhara, a master pot is cooked low and slow overnight. Although in this day and age we don’t have the luxury of cooking over coals or even simmering the dal for half a day! So the addition of a small quantity or Rajma/ Kidney beans will give the makhani gravy its rich texture and also a little bit of colour. Both the Kidney beans and urad dal cook with ginger, tomatoes and chilli giving it plenty of time and injecting lots of flavour.

The reason I say this dish is for special occasions is the copious quantities of butter and cream. No recipe should skimp on it and nor will mine! But where a restaurant in Delhi might opt for a kilo of butter to cook Dal Makhani I’ve gone with a few tablespoons!

NOTE- Lots of readers recently have mentioned cooking my recipes in a pressure cooker. This Dal Makhani can also be cooked in a pressure cooker to save time. I have a conventional pressure cooker which take around 8-10 whistles over a medium flame to cook the dal and rajma until its soft. Then proceed to frying the remaining ingredients.


  1. Soak the black lentils and kidney beans overnight in a bowl in plenty of water.

  2. In a large heavy bottom sauce pan add the black lentil and kidney beans along with the water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer on a low heat for an hour. Stir a few times and scarp of the foam from the top. Continue cooking for further 1 hour and 15 minutes Black Dal Makhani (4)

  3. Drain, reserving the cooking water and set aside to use for later. Mash the lentils with a potato masher this will take some arm work so keep mashing till you have a coarse consistency. You want some lentils whole but most of it mashed.

  4. In a heavy bottom large non stick sauce pan heat the oil on a low heat. Add the asafoetida, chilli and cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for 5 seconds and add the garlic frying for a further 30 seconds.

  5. Now turn the heat to medium and add the onions sautéing for 7-10 minutes until they begin to soften. Stir well making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

  6. Add the tomatoes and fry for a further 3 minutes mashing the softened tomatoes with the back of the spoon now add the puree and cook for a minute

  7. Add the ginger and fry for a minute followed by the mild chilli powder. Season to taste and add the mashed dal. Stir well and make sure to mix all the spices with the dal

  8. Add 650 mls cooking liquid and stir. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes on a low heat with the lid on. Make sure to stir a few times preventing it from sticking to the bottom of the panBlack Dal Makhani (3)

  9. The dal should be thick and creamy so add a little more water only if you need to. Add the garam masala powder along with the butter. Stir well simmering for a minute

  10. Just before you serve add a swirl of cream, fresh coriander and ginger. Serve with naan or pulao

  • http://www.indianfoodrecipesonline.com/ indianfoodrecipesonline.com

    i Like your Punjabi Dal Makhani Recipe. i hope In Future You post More Food Recipes Like this. I also blogging.

  • La

    Do you put the single cream into the mix or just a swirl on top?

    • Maunika Gowardhan


      • Tracey

        This isn’t clear in the recipe where to add the cream in the cooking process, it just says “add a swirl of cream” at the end so when should it be added to the mix? Thanks

  • Sandy Gungan

    A winner here 🙂 Paired this with the lovely tang of squash with panch puran. Not cooked with panch phoron/puran. Lovely spice mix. Yum, those nigella seeds 🙂

  • Amelia Conway

    can i leave out the kidney beans – i already have the urad dal in my cupboard and would rather not buy any more beans?

  • GuestQuestion

    You mention “tomato puree TO THICKEN the dal” — do you mean tomato PASTE? (Idon’t see how puree will thicken it, but paste certianly will.)

  • Guy Hide

    Hi Maunika, loving your recipes. For this one, how far in advance could I cook the lentils and beans, in advance of the final simmering? I am planning somewhat of a banquet for my family so need my timings spot on! Thanks 🙂

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      A day prior is great! And so happy to hear your enjoying the recipes:)

  • Jody Thompson

    Is it possible to make this with no dairy products and just use oil?

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Try vegan butter as an alternative which works really well and opt for cashew milk to thicken the dal!

      • Jody Thompson

        Thanks! I’ll try it

  • Reuven Dovid Miller

    The recipe doesn’t say when to add the butter.

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Please check no. 9

  • Bob From Accounts

    I have a pressure cooker. What would be the equivalent of 8 – 10 whistles in minutes pls ?

  • Anna Rydzewska

    How to make it in the slow cook?

  • Anna Rydzewska

    How to make it in slow cook?

  • Anna

    Please give instructions for slow cook

  • isan

    Thank you for this amazing recipe. Please follow http://www.temptingrecipes.com

  • Diwakar Mishra

    Wow delicious 😋 recipe with all well defined steps and images of Punjabi Dal Makhani Recipe

  • Ann Brab

    Can this go in the slow cooker?

    • Maunika Gowardhan



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