Dal Makhni – Buttery lentils

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They saw each other from a distance, walking a gentle walk on the terrace of their own homes.  Their eyes met and that was all it took to ignite a lifelong passion.  It all started one monsoon evening, in a small city called Chandigarh, in India.  There were two of them. One was young, restless and ready to take on the world.  The other was gentle, kind and had seen the world.  And they met on that fine monsoon evening.

It is because of their meeting, my dears, that you are getting to read this story and have this recipe. It is a story of kindness, compassion and a doze of neighborly love.  When they met, it turned out that the young one was a newly married woman and she had moved to this city with her husband.  The gentle and kind one was a grandmother to a few kids and had decided to retire in this city.

So they met and culture and age differences not withstanding, became the best of pals.  What connected them more was their love of different cuisines, discovering new recipes and cooking. The younger one was an eager learner, the older one a keen teacher. Together they spent afternoons after afternoons cooking dishes, discussing the nuances of each dish and finally enjoying the dishes of their labor.

One such dish that was taught during one such afternoon was the Dal Makhni.  It is a kind and gentle recipe, just like Biji .

Thank you again, Biji. This young one has finally mastered the art of  Dal Makhni just the way you taught me and am happy to share it with everyone, just like you wanted me to!

Who is Biji ( Bee GEE )? A mother like figure, who taught me the delicious choley and hundreds of other dishes from the Punjabi cuisine.



5 from 1 vote

Dal Makhni – Buttery lentils


  • 2 C Black Gram Urad Dal whole
  • 1/2 C Red Kidney Beans
  • 1/2 C finely chopped onions
  • 2 tbs garlic minced
  • 2 tbs ginger minced
  • 1 tbs Red chilli powder kashmiri pref
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 C tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 2 tbs cream to serve optional
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbs Mustard oil
  • Salt to taste


The night before (at least 12 hours before)

  1. Wash the kidney beans and the whole gram
  2. Soak them together in a bowl filled with 6 cups of water.
  3. When you are ready to cook, Drain the water, give them a quick rinse and put them in a pressure cooker with 5 cups of water.
  4. Once the water comes to a boil, skim off any foam that floats up.
  5. Add in the onions, garlic, ginger and mustard oil, close the lid and wait for it to make some noise.
  6. As soon as the steam coming out through the vent makes a noise, lower the heat to medium and let it cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Remember - medium heat.
  8. After 15 minutes, switch off heat and let the dish rest. It will release the steam on its own in about 20 minutes.
  9. Ten minutes before you are ready to serve, heat the ghee in a largish pan and add in cumin and wait for it to crackle.
  10. Add in the tomatoes and cook until the fat floats to the top. Now add in the chilli powder, coriander powder and salt.
  11. Mix it in and let it cook on a low heat for a minute.
  12. Tip in the Dal from the cooker and mix it in. You won't need to mash up the dal and you must not.
  13. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot with a dash of cream on top.

Recipe Notes

You add in the raw mustard oil. No need to heat it first. Seriously!

If you don't like mustard oil (too bad ) you can use any oil you choose.

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