CategoriesHealthy Foods Home Cooked

Easy Traditional Dal Makhani

Dal makhani is a dish originating in New Delhi, India.  A relatively modern variation of traditional lentil dishes, it is made with urad dal (black lentil) and other pulses, and includes butter and cream. One bite of this flavorsome lentil goodness, your family & guests will be amazed.

Dhal or Dal refers to lentils and makhani translates to buttery. Dal makhani literally means buttery dal. Traditionally dal makhani is prepared by cooking lentils on wood/coal fire for several hours. This slow cooking for prolonged hours yield a creamy, thick and best tasting buttery dal.Making a good dal makhani is easy & needs only a few ingredients but it does take time as the lentils need to be slow cooked. So this is an amazing dish to make for a weekend or special festive meal. Serve this dal makhani with garlic butter naan, tandoori roti, roti, jeera rice or basmati rice. Click for Recipe ➡️


To Cook

  • 3/4 cup urad dal sabut (whole black lentil) (160-165 grams)
  • 1/4 cup rajma (red kidney beans) 60-70 grams
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3.5 cups water (28 oz)

Masala for the Dal

  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 3 tablespoons butter divided, use salted butter if possible
  • 1 white onion (115 grams), finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 1.5 cups water (12 oz) as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream (60 ml)
  • Butter (salted) for serving
  • Piece of charcoal optional, for giving a smokey flavor for dal


  1. Wash urad dal and rajma in a large bowl and soak it overnight.
  2. Drain the water and transfer rajma and dal to a pressure cooker with 1 teaspoon salt.
  3. Add about 3.5 water. Let it whistle in the pressure cooker for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to low-medium and cook for another 10 minutes. In total, about 15-20 minutes. 
  4. Next, mash rajma and dal with your fingers. You can use a potato masher. Then turn the heat to the lowest and let the dal simmer while you make the masala.
  5. Begin preparing masala in a large pot or pan. Add two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of ghee on medium flame. 
  6. Once the butter is melted, you can add the finely grated onion. 
  7. Cook onion for about 6 to 7 minutes or keep until it’s golden brown. Keep stirring it continuously so that it does not burn.
  8. Add ginger-garlic paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the uncooked smell goes away. 
  9. Add tomato puree and mix. 
  10. Cook for about 2 minutes until the puree mixes well with masala and oils start oozing out from the side. 
  11.  Add in the boiled dal and mix. Further add garam masala, Kashmiri red chili powder, and salt. Mix to combine it all. 
  12.  Add half a cup of water and stir. 
  13.  Simmer on low heat unwrap for around 45 minutes. Stir often while pouring half a cup of water.
  14.  Mix sugar. Then add 1 tablespoon butter and ¼ cup cream. 
  15.  Simmer for ten more minutes on low heat after putting in the cream. Dal will become creamy by now. 
  16.  If you want to add a smoky flavor, place a steel bowl on the top of a vessel placed inside the dal. Then heat a piece of charcoal over direct heat until it’s boiling. 
  17. Put hot charcoal in that steel bowl on the top. Pour melted ghee on top of the charcoal. 
  18.  Lastly, close the pan with a lid. Let it stay for 2 minutes. Afterward, remove the top and the bowl from the dal.
  19. The longer you keep the lid closed, the smokier it will get. Garnish it with cream and serve with a pat of butter.

Tips to make the best dal makhani:   

  • Simmer on low heat for a long time

You will need the best flavors of this dal if you allow it to simmer for a few hours on low heat, at least for 30 minutes. Slow cooking will boost all the flavors and makes the dal super delicious and creamy. 

Many of the restaurants that make their delicious dal makhani simmer it the whole day. Primarily you boil the lentils till they are soft and then you move ahead to make the masala while the lentils will keep simmering on medium-low flame. 

Further, you add dal to the masala and let the dal simmer for a few more minutes. 

  • Be generous with using butter and cream.

This recipe carries a lot of fat in it. The butter and cream are used to enhance the flavor. So, be generous with it, if you want your dal to taste just like that of restaurant-style. 

  • Less is more when it comes to adding spices in dal makhani

Dal makhani does not need that much of a spice. Only ¼ teaspoon of garam masala or you can go for ½ teaspoon of Kashmiri red chili powder for the color mainly.  No need to add Kasuri methi or cumin seeds. 

The salient flavors of dal come from using fresh ginger, garlic, tomato puree, onion, and a generous quantity of ghee and butter.