Punjabi Dal Makhani

Authentic Punjabi Dal Makhni Recipe

Dal Makhni / Dal Makhani (Dal : lentil; Makhni / Makhani : buttery) is the undisputed king of Indian lentil preparations. Its crown is well-deserved - owing to its rich, creamy and spicy mouth-watering flavors, Dal Makhni / Dal Makhani can be served on its own as the main dish while other lentil preparations typically go well when accompanied by a side dish of veggies. Dal Makhni originated in "Punjab", but its great taste has spread its fame far and wide across India - it is a key menu item in all restaurants that serve North Indian cuisines, both in India and abroad. One strange tip about Dal Makhni is that it tastes better the day after it is prepared. It is usually served with roti, paratha or a bowl of steamed rice.

It is not easy to get the authentic "Punjabi" taste of Dal Makhni/Dal Makhani. The cooking process and the diversity of ingredients - whole black lentil (urad), red kidney beans (rajma), cream, masalas (spices) add to the complexity of preparing this dish. After tasting the dish at many restaurants and friends' parties, and experimenting with multiple variations of Dal Makhni's recipe, I have concluded that my Mom's style of preparation is the real "Punjabi" deal. I also find her recipe healthier because she uses yogurt instead of adding dollops after dollops of cream, and oil instead of butter. So I have taken her permission to post her recipe - thank you Mom! I should have listened to all the neighbors, friends & family that have sung praises about your Dal Makhni over the years, rather than hunting round the world only to find that the key to unlocking this brown-brown liquid gold was always at home. Sometimes it is good to leave well enough alone :)


Makes 4 servings
    1/2 cup Whole Black Gram (Sabut Urad)
    2 tbsp Red Kidney Beans (Rajma)
    1 tsp Cumin Seeds
    1/4 tsp Asafoetida (Heeng)
    1 cup finely chopped Onion
    1 tsp minced fresh Garlic; peeled
    1 tbsp minced fresh Ginger; peeled
    1 cup fresh Tomato pulp
    1-2 Serrano Green Chillies or to taste; destemmed & finely chopped
    1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
    1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (Red Chilli powder) or to taste
    1/2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
    Salt to taste
    1 tbsp Oil
    2 tbsp plain Curd; smoothened
    1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Cream

      For Garnishing:
        1/2 inch Ginger piece; peeled & cut into thin strips
        1 tbsp finely chopped fresh Cilantro (Coriander) leaves
        1 tbsp Cream 

          HOW  TO  MAKE  DAL  MAKHNI

          1. Rinse the whole black gram 2 to 3 times thoroughly. Drain.
          2. Add black gram, red kidney beans, 3 1/2 cups of water, turmeric powder & salt into the Pressure Cooker. Pressure cook till the black gram & kidney beans are soft. Once the steam/pressure has subsided completely, remove the lid. Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes on low heat while stirring at intervals. If the mixture becomes too thick add water accordingly to prevent the contents from sticking to the cooker's bottom. Mash the contents well with a masher. Keep aside.
          3. In a bowl, mix cream & the smoothened curd thoroughly. Keep aside.
          4. Heat oil in a non-stick deep pan on medium heat. Add cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds begin to change color, add asafoetida. Mix.
          5. Add chopped onion & sauté till it turns golden brown in color.
          6. Add ginger & garlic. Sauté for half a minute.
          7. Add the tomato puree & sauté till the oil starts to separate from the mixture.
          8. Add green chillies, cayenne pepper, cream-curd mixture. Mix well & cook for 2 minutes while stirring constantly.
          9. Add the cooked grams. Mix well.
          10. Add garam masala powder & cook on low heat for 15 minutes or till the mixture is of a thick consistency. Keep stirring at regular intervals.
          11. Adjust seasonings to your taste. 
          12. Transfer it to a bowl. Garnish with ginger strips, chopped cilantro leaves and cream. Serve hot with naan, paratha or rice.


            1. Loved the authentic punjabi flavour of the dal,it tasted real good.