Creamy Instant Pot Dal Makhani

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Restaurant-Style Dal Makhani – You’ve got to try this creamy and delicious Punjabi lentil curry that graces the menus of Indian restaurants worldwide. Learn how to replicate the flavors of this traditionally slow-cooked curry quickly in an Instant Pot. 

Dal Makhani served in a black bowl accompanied with aloo gobi and garlic naan
Instant Pot Dal Makhani

What is Dal Makhani?

If you have never had Dal Makhani before, think of it as a creamy, lightly-spiced curry made from whole urad dal and red kidney beans (rajma). You could easily overpower the dish with spices but don’t. The stars of this dish are the lentils – let them shine.  

Dal makhani was invented by three young men who started the historic restaurant, Moti Mahal. Inspired by the classic black urad dal recipe, their version was enriched by the addition of cream, butter, and an ingredient that no one had added to dal until then – tomatoes. The whole concoction was simmered for hours to create the rich and flavorful dal makhani that we know today.   

Slow-Cooked Dal Makhani

It is said that the process of cooking the perfect dal makhani can take up to two days.

But of course, with our modern cooking devices such as Instant Pot, we can achieve similar results in about an hour or so. However, the key still lies in letting the dal simmer on low heat for at least a couple of hours to let the flavor build and for the dal to get its gorgeous creamy texture.

So if you the time for it, let it slow cook for a couple of hours on low heat. 

An overhead shot of Dal Makhani recipe served with a sliver of butter and accompanied with garlic naan and aloo gobi
Dal Makhani

How to make restaurant-style dal makhani at home 

Ingredients for dal makhani

Most folks often get confused on what kind of dal should be used for dal makhani recipe, let me clarify – 

The original recipe from Moti Mahal uses whole urad dal (also known as sabut urad and kaali dal in Hindi and black gram in English), chana dal (split horse gram) and rajma (kidney beans). Some cooks only use urad dal, while others like me prefer to use both rajma and urad dal to create textural contrast and add more flavor.  

I love using my Instant Pot for this dal makhani recipe since it allows me to pressure cook as well as slow cook the dal to perfection. 

  1. Wash and rinse the kidney beans and sabut urad dal using a colander. Soak it in 3 cups of water overnight or for at least 5-6 hours.
  2. Set the Instant Pot to ‘Sauté’ mode and adjust the setting to ’Normal’. When the display reads ‘Hot’, add oil or ghee (if using).
  3. Add cumin seeds once the oil heats up. As the cumin seeds start to sputter, add the spices – bay leaf, black cardamom, and cinnamon stick. Fry them for 30 seconds or so, and then add onions. 
  4. Fry the onions till they are soft and translucent. Add ginger and garlic. Fry them for a minute so that the raw taste disappears.
  5. Add tomatoes along with turmeric powder, chili powder, and salt. Mix well. 
  6. Cook for about 2-3 minutes till the tomatoes turn mushy. If using pureed tomatoes, cook till it comes to a boil. Note – cover the Instant Pot with a glass lid to fasten the cooking of the tomatoes. 
  7. Drain the water from the soaked beans and dal. Add the beans and dal to the tomato mixture, along with 2.5 cups of water. Mix well. 
  8. Cover the Instant Pot. Move the vent to the sealing position.
  9. Pressure cook under high pressure for 35 minutes.
  10. Once cooking is complete, allow the pressure to release on its own (will take about 15-20 minutes). Open the lid and stir. 
  11. Optional step for enhanced taste – Set the valve to venting, choose the slow cook option and select the ‘Less’ setting. Cover the Instant Pot and slow cook for 2 hours. 
  12. Add garam masala and cream (if using) and mix well. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes. 
  13. Garnish it with cilantro and serve hot with a sliver of butter.
Tips
  1. If time permits, slow cook for an hour to two on low heat to make it even more delicious. 
  2. Brown rice takes about the same time to cook as dal makhani. So if you have a stackable container, you could cook the rice along with it. To do so, add brown rice along with water in the stackable container. Place a tall trivet over the gravy and keep the stackable container over it. 
  3. . Although one cup of whole urad dal + kidney beans may seem less at first, I assure you this recipe easily serves 4-6 adults.  Don’t forget – the kidney beans double up when soaked overnight. 
Variations 
  1. Adding whole spices to any dish makes it more flavorful but if you don’t have them handy, feel free to skip it. 
  2. Garam masala is also optional. The combination of kidney beans and whole urad dal is so delicious that all this dish really needs is salt and chili powder. On the same note, you can skip both butter and cream as well. 

Can you make dal makhani without soaking beans?

Whole urad dal does not require soaking, so if you have forgotten to soak kidney beans, here are your options to make sure they cook through – 

  • Stovetop pressure cooker – If you are using a traditional Indian pressure cooker like this one, pressure cook till the vent goes off 7-8 times before switching off the heat. Let the pressure cooker cool down naturally before opening the lid.
  • Use canned kidney beans – Drain off the liquid and thoroughly rinse it before using.
  • Using an Instant Pot – Increase the cooking time to 60 minutes.

How to make a vegan version of dal makhani 

Skip the cream and butter. Also, use any oil or vegan butter to make vegan dal makhani. 

What can we eat with dal makhani? 

Serve it with roti (unleavened bread cooked in a tandoor or on a griddle) or naan. It is an extremely versatile dish and can also be served with plain or cumin-spiced rice (jeera rice). 

Restaurant style Dal Makhani served with rice and garlic naan
Restaurant Style Dal Makhani

Why is dal makhani good for you? 

The black urad dal and rajma, the two main ingredients in this dish are full of nutrition. They are rich in fiber, protein, calcium, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. The presence of fiber along with magnesium, and potassium makes it the perfect food for cardiovascular health. In short, dal makhani can be good for you if you go easy on the cream and butter. 

Looking for more curry recipes? Check out these popular ones from the blog – 

  1. Instant Pot Rajma masala – Use your pressure cooker or Instant Pot to make this quick & delicious Dhaba style Punjabi rajma masala. While you can serve it with rotis, the combination of rajma and chawal (rice) is what makes this dish truly special.
  2. Tadka dal – One pot recipes are the best! That’s why you’ll love this Tadka dal (tempered dal) recipe – make it in an Instant Pot or a pressure cooker – and you’ll have your meal ready in no time.
  3. Dal fry – This recipe for Dal Fry is very close to my heart because it comes from my mom’s kitchen. This is my humble attempt to recreate the hearty and lip-smacking dal my mom makes at home. 
  4. Chana masala – This vegan one-pot curry can be made in an Instant Pot as well as a stovetop Pressure cooker. Get all the deets on how to make this delicious curry at home!
  5. Paneer makhani – Learn how to make your favorite take-out curry –  Restaurant-style Paneer Butter Masala or Paneer Makhani at home in less than 40 minutes!
An overhead shot of Dal Makhani recipe served with a sliver of butter and accompanied with garlic naan and aloo gobi

Instant Pot Dal Makhani Recipe

4.69 from 22 votes
Restaurant-Style Dal Makhani – You've got to try this creamy delicious lentil curry that graces the menus of Indian restaurants worldwide. Learn how to replicate the flavors of this traditionally slow-cooked curry quickly in an Instant Pot
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Soaking time: 6 hours
Servings: 6
Diet : Vegetarian
Course : Main Course
Method: Instant Pot, Pressure cooker
Cuisine : Indian

Ingredients
 
 

For the gravy

Instructions
 

  • Wash and rinse the kidney beans and whole urad dal using a colander. Soak it in 3 cups of water overnight or for at least 5-6 hours.
  • Set the Instant Pot to ‘Sauté’ mode and adjust the setting to ’Normal’. When the display reads ‘Hot’, add oil or ghee (if using).
  • Add cumin seeds once the oil is hot. As the cumin seeds start to sputter, add the spices – bay leaf, black cardamom, and cinnamon stick. Fry them for 30 seconds or so, and then add onions.
  • Fry the onions till they are soft and translucent. Add ginger and garlic. Fry them for a minute so that the raw taste disappears.
  • Add tomatoes along with turmeric powder, chili powder, and salt. Mix well.
  • Cook for about 2-3 minutes till the tomatoes turn mushy. If using pureed tomatoes, cook till it comes to a boil.
  • Drain the water from the soaked beans and dal. Add the beans and dal to the tomato mixture, along with 2.5 cups of water. Mix well.
  • Cover the Instant Pot. Move the vent to the sealing position.
  • Pressure cook under high pressure for 35 minutes.
  • Once cooking is complete, allow the pressure to release on its own (will take about 15-20 minutes). Open the lid and stir.
  • Optional step for enhanced taste – Set the valve to venting, choose the slow cook option and select the 'Less' setting. Cover the Instant Pot and slow cook for 2 hours. 
  • Add garam masala and cream (if using) and mix well. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Serve hot with a sliver of butter.

Notes

Tips
  • If time permits, slow cook for an hour to two on low heat to make it even more delicious. 
  • Brown rice takes about the same time to cook as dal makhani. So if you have a stackable container, you could cook the rice along with it. To do so, add brown rice along with water in the stackable container. Place a tall trivet over the gravy and keep the stackable container over it. 
  • Although one cup of sabut dal + kidney beans may not seem sufficient, remember the kidney beans double up when soaked overnight. This recipe easily serves 6 adults. 
  • For stovetop pressure cooker
    1. Follow the same steps as the Instant Pot one to make the base gravy.
    2. Add the drained soaked kidney beans and dal to the stovetop pressure cooker.
    3. Pressure cook it over medium heat it with 3 cups of water. Wait till the vent goes off 5-6 times. Allow the pressure to release naturally. 
Variations 
  1. Adding whole spices to any dish makes it more flavorful but if you don’t have them handy, feel free to skip it. 
  2. Garam masala is also optional. The combination of kidney beans and sabut urad dal is so flavorful that all it needs is salt and chili powder. On the same note, you can skip the butter and cream as well. 
  3. For a vegan dal makhani – Replace the cream with coconut cream and butter with either oil or vegan butter. 
  1.  

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Disclosure: This recipe contains affiliate links to products we love and recommend. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition

Calories: 186kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 9gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 430mgPotassium: 281mgFiber: 8gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 644IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 3mg

Disclaimer: Approximate Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.

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Keyword : creamy, easy, restaurant style, slow cooked

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14 Comments

  1. Hi, the ingredients list calls for 3 cups of the water, but the instructions say to add 2.5 cups of water. Which is correct?

    1. Sarah – 3 cups of water is for soaking and 2.5 cups is for cooking. They are both listed separately.

    1. Brooke, we typically use split urad dal (without skin) for tempering or for making idlis (steamed rice cakes) but not so much for curries. If you decide to use it, let me know how your dish turned out.

  2. This recipe looks delicious and im excited to try it. my question is can i use red lentils or brown lentils instead of black lentils?

    1. Sure! The taste will change for sure but should still come out good. Red and brown lentils cook faster so they’ll not retain their texture which should be okay because the kidney beans will.

  3. could you make this in a slow cooker instead of an instapot? If so what would you recommend for timing?

  4. 5 stars
    This came out super runny. I also used about 1/4 of the chilli powder and still found that too much for small children! Flavours overpowered by heat. Disappointing recipe 😣

    1. Hi Taylor,
      I am so sorry for your experience. Let’s troubleshoot it so that we can salvage your curry. If it is runny, just let it boil for about 8-10 minutes and that should take care of it. Lemon or lime juice will cut the heat. If you have cream, you can use that too. Sometimes when I use a new brand of chili powder my curries do end up turning spicier than usual. When that happens, I serve the food with a side of yogurt and that helps cut down the heat.

      Now let’s find out what went wrong. I have a few questions – did you follow the recipe or made a few tweaks? Did you drain the water from the soaked beans before adding them in?

      As far as the fact that it turned out very spicy, I would attribute it to two reasons – 1) The chili powder you used – when you use it for other dishes you make, how much do you typically use? 2) What will be mildly spicy for some other folks may find the food really hot. Spice tolerance varies from person to person, right? This isn’t a spicy curry. I am afraid it was your chili powder or your garam masala that made it super spicy for you.

  5. Hi Anu, g8 recipe break down for d most comforting thing in moghlai foods. IP indeed is d woman’s best frnd in d kitchen now a days.. keep posting more recipes.. 👍

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