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This Is How You Make Restaurant-Style Creamy Dal Makhani At Home

Step by step guide to make Dhaba-style Dal Makhani at home

09 Mar, 2021 by Gargi Bisht

Step by step guide to make Dhaba-style Dal Makhani at home

 Dal Makhani

Truly a divine preparation, Dal Makhani is a beacon of culinary excellence in India and a must-try Punjabi delicacy. Rich, creamy, and slow-cooked black lentil simmered in a tomato-based sauce for hours, this indulgent preparation is the epitome of Indian comfort food. And I also find that the entire process of cooking is also kind of therapeutic to me. Watching different ingredients coming together to make this one robust dish laced with just the right amount of smokiness and flavor.

Traditionally, this instant crowd-pleasing dish is a labor of love, slow-cooked for hours on hot coals, usually overnight till the dal breaks down on its own to a buttery, creamy consistency. But in this busy urban life, nobody's got that kind of time. We have to get to work, do household chores, run numerous errands, and manage to catch up on our favorite shows/movies. So, in the spirit of NOT sacrificing your Netflix binge time, here is an easier version of our tried and tested dal makhani recipe which will give you the same flavors and consistency but in less than half the time. Along with that, we have also given a super simple quick tip to add a little Dhaba style smokiness to your Dal Makhani that will come in really handy the next time you decide to show off your culinary skills.

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Dal Makhani Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Black Whole Urad Dal (whole Black Gram Lentils)
  • ¼ cup Rajma (Kidney Beans)
  • 4 cups Water
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • 3 tablespoons Ghee 
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1-inch Cinnamon Stick
  • 4-5 Cloves
  • 2-3 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger Paste
  • 3 Green Chillies finely chopped
  • 1 Large Onion finely chopped 
  • 4 Tomatoes coarsely blended
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Red Chilli Powder 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Salt 
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Kasuri Methi, roasted
  • More cream for topping

Smoking Dal Makhani:

  • 1 piece Charcoal or lump coal
  • 1 tablespoon Oil


  • Soak Urad dal and Rajma in enough water that there is an inch over, for at least 8 hours (or overnight).
  • Stovetop Dal Makhani
  • Drain the water from the soaked lentils and add them to a pot with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 4 cups water. Bring this to a boil and then reduce the flame to a simmer. Cover and cook for an hour till the beans can be easily smashed between your fingers. Alternatively, you can cook it in a pressure cooker for about 6-8 whistles. Ensure that the dal is completely submerged in water and there is at least an inch of extra water above the dal.
  • Once the beans are cooked, lightly smash them with a potato masher, making sure to leave them partially intact. Set aside.
  • Heat ghee in a pot and add bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Saute them for a minute or two or until aromatic and then add ginger garlic paste, green chilis, and onions to the pot. Cook this till the onions turn translucent.
  • Add the tomatoes (blended), red chili powder, salt, and garam masala. Cook till the tomatoes are mushy, and add then add cooked lentils with 1 cup water. Bring this to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or till the dal has thickened, making sure to stir occasionally because the dal tends to stick to the bottom.
  • Mix in the heavy cream, butter, and Kasuri Methi. Switch off the flame and let the dal makhani rest for 15 minutes before serving, topped with more cream. 

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Smoking Dal Makhani:

  • To smoke dal makhani, start by heating the charcoal till it's red on an open flame or grill and place it in a small heat-proof bowl. Carefully, pour a tablespoon of ghee or oil in the bowl, and you’ll immediately hear a sizzle and smoke coming out. Place the bowl in the middle of the pot of dal makhani and cover it with a lid. Let the lid be covered for 5-10 minutes to smoke the dal.


Q. Which dal is used in Dal Makhani?

Ans. A mix of Urad Dal (whole Black Gram Lentils) & Rajma (Kidney Beans) are used to make Dal Makhani. 

Q. How to make Dhaba-style Dal Makhani at home?

Ans. Dhaba-style Dal Makhani usually has a distinct smokiness to it and you can easily recreate it at home by following the Smoking Dal Makhani Tip given above.

Q. Can Dal Makhani be made vegan?

Ans. The traditional recipe uses a ton of butter and ghee which also lends it the creaminess. If you are vegan or lactose intolerant, you can substitute ghee, butter, and cream with cashew and coconut milk. Use 1/4 cup cashew cream while simmering the dal, and 1/4 cup coconut milk in the end. The coconut milk might add a coconut-ty flavor, but the quantity is so small that you’ll barely notice it.

Written By

Gargi Bisht is an event copywriter/conceptualizer turned writer currently working with EazyDiner Pvt. Ltd. Compulsive eater, book hoarder, dog lover and pop culture enthusiast with an innate love for storytelling. Usually the quietest person in the room, Gargi is an introvert who loves her own company. When not eating, can be found in front of her laptop watching movies. Knows a thing or two about art and literature.

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