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How to Make Dal Makhani Recipe, The best way to make

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Certain dishes embody Punjabi cuisine in a manner that is distinct from others. Among them is Dal Makhani. One of the most well-known lentil recipes from North Indian Punjabi cuisine, it is made with kidney beans (rajma in Hindi) and whole black lentils (urad dal or kali dal in Hindi). The delicately smoky flavors and creamy texture of the lentils are features of this restaurant-style version of Dal Makhani. You will enjoy this makhani dal even more if you enjoy North Indian cuisine and those delicious Punjabi flavors.

About the Dal Makhani

As I mentioned earlier, Dal Makhani is the ultimate Punjabi dish that you will never be able to get enough of. Once your palate tries it, it will constantly be aching for more.

And why not? When whole black lentils and kidney beans are cooked in a spiced onion-tomato base with generous amounts of butter and cream, the dish is bound to be decadent.

Indeed, this dish is high in calories, but there is nothing wrong with indulging in such decadent fare occasionally. We all have our guilty days, and this rich, velvety, and creamy Dal Makhani Recipe is undoubtedly the ideal choice for those occasions.

Additionally, remember to burn those extra calories by increasing your exercise or going for a longer run after consuming a meal of this rich dal.

You may be asking yourself, “Where did the Dal Makhani come from exactly?” Well, food historians say that Kundan Lal Gujral and Kundan Lal Jaggi, two Punjabi Hindu migrants from Peshawar, are credited with creating the recipe.

They are also credited with creating butter chicken. The vegetarian version of makkani dal was developed to go with this non-vegetarian dish.

 

The Reason This Recipe Is Effective

It is one of our most popular recipes on the blog, even to this day. Let me tell you that before I go through and explain the beauty of this Dal Makhani recipe.

This recipe is my most shared recipe on social media, and it never seems to go out of style. Many of our readers have made it and have highly recommended it.

Although I cooked the lentils for this Dal Makhani Recipe in a pressure cooker, I have also included instructions on how to cook the dal in a pan or pot in the recipe card’s notes section.

Complete Spices

This Dal Makhani Recipe is enhanced in flavor by the variety of aromatic whole spices that are used in it. When I first started experimenting with this dish, I remember making it a lot without whole spices in the hopes of getting the lentils to have a texture and flavor similar to what I would get at a restaurant, but my attempts never quite matched, so I kept trying.

One of the best dishes they served when we lived in Goa was Dal Makhani, which we used to eat at a restaurant near the serene Benaulim beach. One day I noticed that they used black cardamom and cloves in their version, and I wondered if that was why the dal had such a lovely aroma and flavor.

After that, I made several attempts at making makhan dal with whole spices and found that they did, in fact, give the dish a nice flavor and subtle scent, but I still felt like something was lacking.

Cream and Butter

The answer to the previous question was cream and butter. These two ingredients were what gave the Dal Makhani Recipe its unique flavor. As a result, I continued experimenting, and when I tested the Dal Bukhara recipe, I discovered that, in addition to the slow cooking, it was the cream and butter that added the desired richness.

Although many recipes call for adding large amounts of butter and cream, in my recipe, the amount of these ingredients is just enough to bring the dish to the necessary level of richness. Dal Makhani is a rich dish, and the fats in the form of those two ingredients help to achieve that richness.

Even with even smaller amounts of butter and cream, you can still make a Dal Makhani; just be sure to slow-cook it for longer to seal the deal!

Cooking Slowly

The most authentic North Indian restaurants simmer their Dal Makhani for many hours or overnight, and this is the gospel truth about the ideal Dal Makhani Recipe: the more you slow cook it, the better it tastes.

The lentils are cooked slowly in a tandoor, which is a cylindrical clay oven, and this process is what essentially makes all the difference in the overall consistency of the dish.

The wood or charcoal used to light the tandoor fire and simmer the meal for the entire night contributes to the smokiness of the Dal Makhani dish.

While most Indian homes lack tandoors, they do have stovetop pressure cookers, which are the simplest and fastest way to cook lentils (I used one in this post), though you can also cook the dal in an Instant Pot.

After about thirty minutes of pressure cooking, the lentils and beans were slow-cooked over low heat for twenty-five minutes.

You can slow cook the lentils for a longer period of time than I have done; the result will be a delicious Dal Makhani Recipe that is viscous and creamy.

Taste of Smoke

As I mentioned above, the smokiness in the makhani dal comes from slow simmering and cooking this dal on wooden or charcoal fires or embers. This is essential for that restaurant-style taste.

I have two tried-and-true techniques for you to follow in order to achieve the same smoky flavor and aroma in the dish:

  • Charcoal-infused smoke: Also known as “dhungar” in Hindi, this is a method of smoking food with charcoal that works amazingly well for any recipe that needs a little smoky flavor. The Dal Makhani Recipe smoked using this method tastes just like the one at restaurants. If you do not have charcoal, you can just skip this step.
  • Replace Red Chili Powder with Smoked Paprika: This is the simplest way to obtain that smoky flavor in your dish; simply substitute smoked paprika for the red chili powder in the recipe. I have used smoked paprika in my dal a lot.

 

Items and ingredients

primary components

¾ cup whole urad dal—140 grams (whole black gram)

¼ cup rajma, 40 grams (kidney beans)

3 cups water for pressure cooking

½ cup finely chopped onions, 50 grams

1 teaspoon chopped green chilies or serrano peppers or 1 to 2 green chillies

2 teaspoons Ginger Garlic Paste or 6 to 7 small to medium-sized peeled garlic + 1 inch peeled ginger, crushed to a paste in mortar and pestle

2 large tomatoes, 200 grams, pureed or 1 cup tomato puree

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

2 to 3 cloves

2 to 3 green cardamoms

1 black cardamom

1 inch cinnamon

1 small to medium tej patta (Indian bay leaf)

½ teaspoon red chili powder, cayenne pepper or smoked paprika

2 to 3 pinches grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg powder

1 cup water or add as required

¼ to ⅓ cup light cream (25% to 30% fat) or half & half or 2 tablespoons whipping or heavy cream

¼ teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves, crushed (kasuri methi), optional

3 tablespoons Butter, salted or unsalted

salt as required

Dhungar Technique (Selective)

1 small piece of charcoal

½ to ⅔ teaspoon oil—any neutral-tasting oil

Garnish

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)

1 tablespoon light cream (25% to 30% fat) or few teaspoons of whipping cream (optional)

1 inch ginger julienne, optional

 

Ways to Prepare Dal Makhani

Cook and Soak Lentils

1. Soak ¾ cup whole black gram (whole urad dal) and ¼ cup kidney beans (rajma) in sufficient water for 8 to 9 hours. Then, drain well. The soaked whole urad dal and rajma are shown in the picture below.

2. Give the rajma and urad lentils a few water rinses.

3. Give them a thorough drain before adding them to a 3-liter pressure cooker that can be used on the stove.

4. Include 3 cups of water and thoroughly mix.

5. Cook under pressure for 18 to 20 whistles on high heat, or until the kidney beans and black grams are soft and cooked through.

Should they be undercooked, proceed to pressure cook for an additional 4 to 5 whistles while adding roughly ½ cup of water.

6. Both the kidney beans and the black gram, also known as urad dal, are thoroughly cooked and softened in the picture below; when eaten, the black gram, or urad dal, should melt in the mouth and not bite or resist.

To test for doneness, you can also simply mash the urad dal with a spoon or your fingers; the same goes for kidney beans; set the cooked beans aside.

Keep in mind that the kidney beans and black grams must both be fresh; they will take a long time to cook if they are past their best.

7. Place 2 large (200 grams) chopped tomatoes in a blender or mixer jar; no blanching is required.

8. Blend until smooth and fine, then set aside.

Alternatively, you could puree 1 cup of canned tomatoes in place of blending the fresh tomatoes.

9. Now, melt three tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium-low heat.

It is your choice to use unsalted or salted butter.

10. Add the below-listed whole spices and fry them until they splutter and turn fragrant.

  • 1/4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • two to three cloves
  • two or three green cardamoms
  • One single black cardamom
  • One-inch cinnamon
  • One medium-sized to small tej patta (Indian bay leaf)

 

11. Next, incorporate half a cup of finely chopped onions.

12. Stirring frequently, sauté the onions over low to medium-low heat.

13. Add the onions and sauté until lightly golden.

14. After that, stir in 2 tsp. of ginger-garlic paste. Stir to mix and sauté until the raw aroma of ginger and garlic dissipates.

15. Sauté one teaspoon of finely chopped green chilies for one minute.

16. Include the prepared pureed tomato.

17. Fully combine once more.

18. Stir in 0.5 tsp. red chili powder.

19. After that, add two to three pinches of either powdered or grated nutmeg.

20. After thoroughly mixing, cook the mixture over low to medium heat until the fat starts to slip off the sides.

On medium-low to medium heat, this sautéing process takes about 3 to 4 minutes.

21. Include the kidney beans and cooked lentils.

22. Pour in all of the stock or broth used to cook the kidney beans and lentils. Additionally, add 1 cup of water or as needed.

23. Combine thoroughly and cook, uncovered, over low heat until the dal is tender.

24. Continue stirring frequently to prevent the lentils from sticking to the pan’s bottom. The lentils become viscous and start to stick at the bottom, if not stirred. Mash a few lentils too, while stirring.

25. Add salt as needed after the Dal Makhani starts to thicken.

26. Stir thoroughly and keep simmering over low heat. Keep stirring while the lentils are simmering on low heat. When simmering, you can add more water if the consistency looks thick or dry.

The longer it simmers, the more flavorful it becomes. The lentils become creamy and viscous, and the consistency of the dal will keep thickening as you simmer.

I kept on low heat for about twenty-five minutes total. Keep stirring at intervals.

27. Add half to three-quarters of a cup of light cream or half-and-half once the gravy has thickened enough. If using heavy cream, then add 2 tablespoons of it.

Punjabi Dal Makhani has a consistency that is just the right amount of thick and thin. It has a medium consistency with a viscosity coming from the thoroughly cooked lentils.

28. Thoroughly stir the cream. Then, turn off the heat

29. Add ¼ teaspoon of dry fenugreek keaves that have been crushed (kasuri methi). Stir again.

If using the Dhungar method, cover and set aside. Or else you can serve Dal Makhani straightaway

30. Switch on the stovetop and adjust the flame to medium-low or low. Position a flame-proof wire rack with a handle on the stovetop. I use a round metal rack, as shown in the photo below.

On this rack, place a small piece of charcoal and heat it over a direct flame until it is red hot. With the help of steel tongs, keep on turning the charcoal piece so that it evenly burns.

31. Hold onto the hot red charcoal in a tiny bowl made of steel.

32. Drizzle the charcoal with ½ to ⅔ teaspoon of oil. The hot piece of charcoal would begin to smoke as soon as you poured oil on it.

33. Keep this bowl over the dal right away.

34. For a minute, cover the Dal Makhani tightly with a lid to let the charcoal infuse the dish with smoke. Usually, I stay for a minute.

35. Give it another stir. Serve Punjabi Dal Makhani garnished with chopped coriander leaves and a few teaspoons of light cream or whipping cream.

 

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Ahmed Mainul

My name is Ahmed Mainul Mondal, I'm the founder of the hospitality career profile website. I'm writing blogs and news posts as per user preferences.

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