Dal makhani is a creamy and buttery lentil curry which is a staple food of every North Indian household. The butter loaded urad dal and rajma in spices is a favorite among the Punjabi diaspora but now gained popularity around the globe. It has many variations found in different regions of our country as well as abroad. A luscious, creamy dal recipe loaded with butter and minimum spices.
The primary ingredients are whole black lentils (urad), red kidney beans (rajma), butter, and cream. The dish gets its richness from the use of cream or butter, but it can also be prepared with yogurt, milk, or no dairy. It has very little spices. Ideally enjoyed with butter roti and naan, you can enjoy this delicacy with steamed rice as well. It is a great combination of lentils in creamy gravy.
Who Invented Dal Makhani?
It is a staple food of Punjabi’s and the dish was popularized in India after partition when many people from Punjab migrated to the northern regions of India. As they migrated across India and internationally, the dish was introduced to new locales by entrepreneurial Punjabi migrants Kundan Lal Gujral, Thakur Dass, and Kundan Lal Jaggi at their restaurant called Moti Mahal in the locality of Daryaganj, Delhi, India.
Black whole urad dal (black gram) served with hot roti was a specialty of West Pakistan, which Gujaral brought along with him as he crossed the national frontiers and included it in his restaurant menu. However, the turning point for the traditional black urad dal preparation came about when Gujaral mixed cream and tomatoes to the dal. This dish is closely linked to butter chicken.
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Dal Makhani’s popularity is due in part to its versatility in a meal: the rich vegetarian dish can be served as a main meal, included as part of a buffet (thali), or used as an accompaniment to a meal. In India, soups and curries with a red or yellow lentil base are an important staple, however, due to Dal Makhani’s rich texture and lengthy preparation process, it makes an appearance on homemade thalis for special occasions.
The traditional preparation of dal makhani involves a series of time-consuming procedures, which can take up to 24 hours to complete. With the availability of modern cooking equipment, namely electric pressure cookers, and slow cookers, the preparation time of the dish has reduced significantly to 2–3 hours.
Homemade Dal Makhani
- Sabut urad dal 1 cup
- Rajma 3/4 cup
- Onions 2
- Tomatoes 2
- Ginger garlic paste 2 tsp
- Green chilies 2
- Coriander leaves 2 tbsp
- Fresh cream 1/4 cup
- Butter 4 tbsp
- Salt as taste
- Bay leaf 1
- Turmeric powder 1 tsp
- Coriander powder 2 tsp
- Kashmiri chili powder 1 tsp
- Cumin seeds 1 tsp
- Dry mango powder 1/2 tsp
- Garam masala 1 tsp
- Fenugreek leaves 1 tbsp
- Oil 1 tbsp
- Butter 1 tbsp
- Cumin seeds 1 tsp
- Asafoetida 1/4 tsp
- Wash and soak whole urad dal and rajma beans in water overnight.
- Next day drain the lentils and pressure cook with water with turmeric powder for about 3 whistles or 15 minutes (approx).
- Let the pressure release completely before opening the lid. Cooked dal should feel soft to touch and easy to break when pressed between fingers.
- Strain the water and keep it aside. Lightly mash the lentils with the help of a back of the ladle or a masher and keep it aside until needed.
Proceed To Cook
- Melt butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed pan on a medium flame. Once the butter melts, add cumin seeds and hing.
- When the cumin seeds start to splutter, add slit green chilies and ginger-garlic paste and fry for around 30 seconds.
- Add finely chopped onions, and saute them over medium heat for around 2-3 minutes till they turn golden brown.
- Add coriander powder, cumin powder chili powder, turmeric, and crushed Kasuri methi and saute it for a minute or so till you get a nice aroma.
- Mix in finely chopped tomatoes, pomegranate seed powder, and saute it for around 3-4 minutes or until tomatoes turn pulpy and release their juice.
- Mix the cooked dal with about 2-3 cups of water (use the reserved dal water also). Add remaining butter, salt to taste and mix well.
- Cover the pan and cook on medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes till the gravy starts to thicken. I have found that the more time you cook the dal, tastier it is to eat.
- Mix in the cream or yogurt, garam masala, and cook again for another 5-10 minutes on low heat.
- Finally, add finely chopped coriander leaves and mix well. Cover and let it rest for 10-15 minutes for the flavors to blend and mature.
- Serve this delicious buttery dal makhani with tandoori naan/roti or with some jeera rice and enjoy.