Instant Pot Dal Makhani is one of the tastiest and most loved dal (pulse) preparation in North India, especially in Punjab. It combines whole black lentils (whole urad dal) and red kidney beans in Indian tomato-based curry. This is then slow-cooked for 3-4 hours or more until the lentils turn soft & creamy.
This special dal makhani recipe finds its place in most special occasion dinners, including wedding feasts, in northern parts of India. It is cooked in homes, roadside dhabas, and even five-star hotels, thanks to its popularity. Everyone loves this delicious restaurant-style creamy dal. This Instant Pot Dal Makhani pairs perfectly with Garlic Naan and a side of Punjabi Aloo Gobi.
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Being a Punjabi hailing from Delhi, it is my favorite dal too. This is Indian comfort food that is loved by many. Dal Makhani is made by simmering black lentils (black urad dal) & kidney beans with butter and cream at low heat. This gives the dal a smooth and delicious texture and taste. This dal has such a unique flavor that you cannot resist. It is also a rich source of protein.
My mother makes delicious dal makhani. But when I started cooking it, I had to pass through many trials and errors to get that perfect taste. Finally, after many experiments, failures, and successes, I can now say I have perfected my version of Dal Makhani.
My Instant Pot has helped a lot in this journey. I use it for cooking lentils at high pressure and then cook in a slow cooker setting for 4-8 hours. And it always turns out so good.
The post contains Helpful Tips & Tricks to make Instant Pot Dal Makhani. But if you're in a hurry, you can also click "Jump to Recipe' under the Heading to go directly to the Recipe Card.
💭DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PUNJABI DAL MAKHANI & MADRAS LENTILS?
So recently, I stumbled upon a bag of Madras Lentils during my visit to Costco. It is selling under the name of the "Tasty Bites" brand. I was fascinated by the name, so I thought of trying it. When I opened the bag, made it, and it tasted a lot like my Dal Makhani (though a little bland in flavor). I read the ingredients, and it had Adzuki Lentils instead of Whole black Lentils and other ingredients (including water, kidney beans, tomato, onion, cream, butter, salt, oil, chili, and cumin).
Madras lentils have packet ingredients and not fresh ingredients, so that's one of the main reasons the flavor was so bland. Also, it has Adzuki Lentils and not Black Lentils, and I don't know how Adzuki lentils taste, but I like black lentils flavor more.
🥘INGREDIENTS & SUBSTITUTIONS
Here are some of the dal makhani ingredients that you will need to make the creamiest lentils:
- LENTILS & PULSES: Dal Makhani is made by the combination of Red Kidney Beans and Whole Black Lentils (black gram lentils or whole urad dal).
- INDIAN MASALA: You can use the frozen Indian Masala or you can make it from scratch using onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and some spices. I like to use the fresh masala as it provides a better tastes to the lentils.
- WHOLE SPICES: This Punjabi Dal Makhani is more popular because of its creamy texture. And it does not need much spices and flavoring. So I add few whole spices especially for the aromatic flavor. You will need bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, and green cardamom for the recipe.
- SPICES: I only use Red Chili Powder and a teaspoon of garam masala powder in the recipe.
- CREAM: You can add cream, or you can also use Cashew cream for Vegan Dal Makhani.
- BUTTER/OIL: Indian Masala is made in Butter or Ghee (Indian Clarified Btter) to bring out the best flavor in the recipe.
- GARNISH: Garnish with some dried fenugreek leaves (Kasuri Methi) along with cilantro and cream.
See the recipe card for quantities.
CAN I MAKE DAL MAKHANI WITHOUT SOAKING?
Yes, you can make this easy dal makhani recipe without soaking. You can use canned kidney beans. Or you can pressure cook the lentils without even soaking them. Wash the black lentils couple of times & just pressure cook for 60 minutes at a High-pressure level.
Check the recipe card below for the full recipe, but you refer here for step-by-step photo instructions.
STEP 1 - SOAK LENTILS: Soak a Whole Black Lentils and Kidney Beans overnight or for at least 6-8 hours. This will make them a little soft. They will cook easily and also will be light on the stomach.
STEP 2- MAKE TADKA: Make tadka by first frying chopped onions in the Instant Pot. Then add chopped & diced tomatoes. (Note: adding diced tomatoes makes a big difference in the overall flavor of dal makhani, so don't forget to add that). Then add ginger-garlic paste and spices (garam masala powder and red chili powder), and let it cook for 2-3 minutes until oil starts to separate.
WHOLE SPICES: I also add whole spices to provide aromatic flavor to my dal makhani. I add black & green cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon in a muslin cloth. Wrap this muslin cloth and tie a knot. Place this in the instant pot.
STEP 3 - ADD SOAKED LENTILS: Add lentils to the prepared tadka in the instant pot and pressure cook. I usually pressure cook for 30 minutes, but you can increase or decrease the time depending on how long you want to cook in a slow cook setting. When the timer beeps, do natural pressure release (NPR) and do not do a quick release.
STEP 4 - SLOW COOK: Once the pressure is released, open the lid and add 1 cup of water. Using the Slow Cook setting of Instant Pot, slow cook for 1-3 hours. This will make the dal makhani creamy & buttery. Also, sprinkle Kasuri methi (or dried fenugreek leaves). Or you can also cook dal makhani in a Saute setting at a low level (keep stirring in between).
STEP 5 - ADJUST & SERVE: Lastly, add cream to the makhani dal and adjust the spices. (It doesn't need many spices, but you can still adjust according to your taste). Finally, add a big piece of butter to it and serve with Rice or Indian Flatbread.
STEP 6 - DHUNGAR METHOD: Place a small charcoal piece in a bowl and place that bowl in the instant pot over a trivet. Then add hot ghee/ oil over the charcoal piece and cover the pot with the lid. Let it sit for 5 minutes, and then remove the bowl. This will provide the deep Dhaba-style flavor to the makhani dal.
1. Soak black lentils & kidney beans overnight, or for 6-8 hours at least. This helps in getting the creamy & buttery texture. If dal is not soaked, it won't get an even smooth & creamy texture that the Dal Makhani is known for.
2. The more you cook on low heat, the creamier your dal will be. Also, the slow cooking enhances the flavors, and hence you'll get amazing Dal Makhani. The key to getting the creamiest & yummiest Dal Makhani is to cook at low temperatures or slow cook it.
2. Simmer on low heat for a long time- As I cook in an Instant Pot, I use the Slow Cooker mode for 4-8 hours. But if you don't have that much time, just boil it for 30 mins and cook at a slow cooker setting for 1-2 hours. This dal makhani recipe tastes better if cooked for a longer time in a slow cook setting.
3. Be generous with butter & cream- this is one recipe that gives you an excuse to add lots of butter & cream. So don't cut down on butter & cream. If you do, Dal Makhani won't get its special creamy flavor.
4. This dal makhani recipe doesn't require a lot of spices. I just add a teaspoon of red chili powder and garam masala.
5. Add store-bought tomato puree to get even texture- Along with the regular pureed tomatoes, I always add store-bought tomato puree. This gives a smoother texture to the dal. Adding tomato puree also provides deep red color to the curry.
6. A bit of sugar helps in balancing the flavor- it may sound funny, but adding a pinch of sugar to Dal Makhani helps balance out all the flavors, resulting in better taste. I add about half a teaspoon of sugar to balance the flavor.
7. Add cream at the end to smoothen the texture and make the dal even creamier.
You can store it in the refrigerator or freezer; the taste will remain the same. Store the leftover Dal Makhani in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. You can also freeze it in an air-tight container for 1-2 months. Before using the freezer-stored Dal Makhani, just thaw and heat it in the microwave or in a pan on the stove-top until boiled.
Leftover Dal Makhani tastes much better and goes great with some Garlic Naan. Or you can also add leftover Daal Makhani in the wheat flour and make Missi Roti from the dough.
🧾FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes, you can make dal makhani with green lentils. Follow the same instructions, and you will get an amazing dal makhani with green lentils. Though you need to compromise with the color of the lentil curry. When using green lentils, the curry will turn greenish-yellow but taste great.
Though dal makhani is prepared by frying onions in a lot of butter/ ghee. And later, the cream is added to give a more creamy flavor to the dal. To make the dal healthier, limit oil/ butter, and instead of cream, you can add low-fat yogurt.
To make the recipe vegan, do not add any butter/ghee. Instead, you can use Vegan Butter in the recipe. Also, instead of cream, you can use vegan yogurt or cashew cream at the end.
It is best to soak the lentils for at least 6-8 hours for the authentic creamy texture.
Whole black lentils (whole urad dal) and red kidney beans are used to make Punjabi Dal Makhani.
This easy dal makhani recipe pairs perfectly with aloo gobi along with garlic or butter naan.
Place a small charcoal piece in a bowl and place that bowl in the instant pot over a trivet. Then add hot ghee/ oil over the charcoal piece and cover the pot with the lid. Let it sit for 5 minutes, and then remove the bowl. This will provide the deep Dhaba-style flavor to the makhani dal.
Yes, this Punjabi Dal Makhani is gluten-free as it does not have any flour.
Yes, you can use canned beans. Use canned black lentils and kidney beans in the recipe and pressure cook for 5 minutes.
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📖 RECIPE CARD
The Best Instant Pot Dal Makhani
- 2 tablespoon Ghee
- 2 tablespoon Oil/Butter
- 1 cup Whole Black Lentil
- ½ cup Kidney Beans
- ½ Onion chopped
- 2 Tomatoes pureed
- ½ cup Tomato Puree or diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon Ginger- Garlic Paste
- 1 Cloves
- 4 Green Cardamoms
- 1 Black Cardamoms
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 ½ inch Cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chiili Powder
- 1 tablespoon Garam Masala Powder
- Salt as per taste
- ½ teaspoon Butter
- ½ tablespoon Sugar
- ½ teaspoon Kasuri Methi
- ¼ Cream or Cashew Cream
- Soak whole black lentils & kidney beans overnight, or for at least 6-8 hrs.
- Using the Saute setting, add ghee and oil/butter to the pot. Add onion to it. Once the onions turn carameliz, add tomatoes and store brought diced tomatoes or tomato puree.
- Once tomatoes turn soft & mushy and oil starts to separate, add spices (Kashmiri red chili powder and garam masala powder), and sugar. Cook for another 1-2 mins.
- Add whole black lentil, kidney beans, cardamoms (green & black), cinnamon, bay leaf, ginger-garlic paste, and salt to the Instant Pot and add 3.5 cups of water to it.(Note: you can place whole spice sin muslin cloth and tie a knot & add it to the instant pot. That way the whole spices will not ocme in your mouth while eating).
- Close the lid and with the vent in sealing position, pressure cook for 30 minutes. When the timer beeps, let the pressure release naturally (NPR).
- When the valve goes down, open the lid. Press the Slow Cook button and cook for 1-2 hrs at a normal setting. Or you can also saute for 30 minutes at low until you get desired consistency (keep stirring in between).
- Add butter & cream just before serving and garnish with cilantro leaves. For authentic flavor, you can perform the Dhungar method.DHUNGAR METHOD: Place a small charcoal piece in a bowl and place that bowl in the instant pot over a trivet. Then add hot ghee/ oil over the charcoal piece and cover the pot with the lid. Let it sit for 5 minutes, and then remove the bowl. This will provide the deep Dhaba-style flavor to the makhani dal.
Wow... thank you so much, it means a lot. This recipe is very close to my heart, so thank you so much for appreciating it.
This sounds very interesting, but I don’t see where the cream is in the ingredients?
Thank You....add cream just before serving 🙂
Loved it. It's so yummy and delicious
Sounds yummy . Will try tonight. Just curious...What is the purpose of adding store brought tomato purée in addition to regular tomato ? Is it for color or something else
store-bough tomato puree adds colors as well as flavor to the lentils. But you can skip it too.
I dont see an amount for cream or salt? There is an amount for sugar at the end of the list and no instruction to ever add it. Should that be sslt n not sugar?
You can add around 1/4 cup of cream and salt as per taste. You can also add around 1 tsp of sugar too.