Dal Makhani Restaurant style | How to make Dal Makhani at home
Dal Makhani, is one of the most popular North Indian lentil dishes. It is a creamy and butter black lentil dish that is slow-cooked for a long time. How to make Dal Makhani Restaurant style? if you follow the step-step-by instructions mentioned below, it will be very easy to make the dish at home.
The first time I had this dish was during my college days. A Punjabi friend had invited me for lunch. There were many items in the thali and a big glass (patiala glass) of lassi. While many items were known to me, the dish different was an enticing reddish-brick color, with a dollop of white butter and a swirl of cream on it.
Asked my friend about it and he said it’s Dal Makhani made with black color dal. Had a bite with roti and oh my god! it was creamy, mildly spiced, and finger-licking good with rice too. It instantly got added to my favorite foods list.
When it comes to dal, the South Indian in me can only think of yellow color dal. Sambar, our staple dish is made with arhar/toor dal (split pigeon pea lentil). As I had an interest in cooking since my school days, I was aware of white udad dal, which is commonly used to make idly, dosa, vada at home. But, never heard of black dal during my childhood.
I am sure many already know about Dal Makhani and tried at Indian restaurants or dhabas. If you
What is Dal Makhani?
In the Hindi language, Dal is a generic word for Lentils and Makhani translates to Buttery. So, Dal Makhani literally translates to buttery dal/lentils.
Which dal/lentil is used to make Dal Makhani? There are over 50 different varieties of dals/lentils in the Indian subcontinent, but one key to a classic Dal Makhani is Whole black lentils (sabut urad dal or kali dal in Hindi). This lentil has black color skin and inside is white color.
The signature of this dal is dark color, thick creamy, velvety texture, and mild flavors which are achieved by simmering the dal for long hours and adding lot of fat (cream and butter)
Everybody loves a simple dal chawal in most Indian states. Hot steamed rice, a bowl of warm dal, and topped with generous ghee is comfort meal.
This dal is not meant to be cooked every day, it’s only for special occasions because of the large quantity of butter and cream. It won’t be wrong to say this dal as King of dals.
Was curious to know about the history of Dal Makhani. So, I visited a few sites and came across an interesting story. Sharing the same here.
Origin of Dal Makhani
This dish has roots before the India-Pakistan partition. Its origin was in the Punjab or Peshawar region of Pakistan. After the partition, Peshawaris brought this dish to Inda. The original black lentil recipe did not include tomatoes or cream. Curd or yogurt was added as a souring agent.
Dal Makhani was reinvented by Mr. Kundan Lal Gujral, the owner of the Moti Mahal restaurants chain. First, he introduced makhani gravy which emerged out of necessity. He was worrying about chicken tikkas that would dry out sometimes. So, he simmered the chicken tikkas in luscious gravy/sauce of tomatoes, butter, cream, and a few basic spices to rehydrate them and this gave birth to Butter Chicken dish.
According to sources, it is said that he wanted to create a creamy, rich, and royal vegetarian dish similar to Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani). So, he used the same makhani gravy as a base and mixed it with the dal. This led to the invention of modern-day Dal Makhani.
Because of him, the modern Dal Makhani is not only a household name in India, but has proudly made its presence around the world.
We find it as a default one in North Indian restaurants, Dhaba menus, Buffet, and also at weddings.
Secret of Dal Makhani Restaurant style recipe
What makes dal makhani in the restaurant so special? Want to know the secret behind the authentic dal makhani restaurant style recipe?
Let me disclose it to you, that will surprise you for sure.
In restaurants, the raw lentils (without soaking) or soaked is slow-cooked on a stovetop or tandoor till they melt in the mouth, along with tin tomato puree, kashmiri red chili powder, and lots of butter. The cooking process is 12-15 hours or even up to 24 hours. Taste of dal makhani is a labor of love.
When you place an order, a small portion is heated by adding ginger-garlic paste, a pinch of kasuri methi, a few spices, cream, and more butter to live up to its name makhani. The only spice in this special dal makhani is Kashmiri Red Chili Powder.
About the Dal Makhani Recipe
In my recipe, I used urad dal, rajma, and chana dal which is inspired by the original recipe of Moti Mahal. The ratio of dals is, 50% black lentils and the other 50% is equally divided between rajma and chana dal. Both these ingredients add a certain consistency and thickness to the dish.
There are different versions to make this dish like restaurant-style, dhaba style, roadside stalls/eateries, and halwai style. While few of the Chefs use just whole udad dal, and few prefer to use udad dal and rajma.
As mentioned above, traditional dal makhani is made by slow cooking on the stovetop or in a clay oven (tandoor) for long hours or overnight till the dal breaks to mouth melting and creamy texture. By cooking in a tandoor, the dish gets a wonderful smoky flavor. But, is it possible at home? Not possible with a busy life. Instead, we will use one of the best kitchen appliances Indians have, a “pressure cooker“. With this, the preparation time will reduce significantly to 1-2 hours. You can also call it Instant Dal Makhani restaurant style.
My recipe is to pressure cook the soaked lentils till soft, make makhani gravy and slow-cook/simmer the lentils for at least 30 minutes. By following this easy and simple process, you will still get restaurant taste.
Sounds super simple, right? But, there are some specific tips and techniques to follow that make the dish creamy, smooth and flavorful.
Dal makhani restaurant style is loaded with fats, butter, and cream which is not good for health. In restaurants, the quantity of butter is the same as the quantity of dal. To make the dal cream and buttery, the ratio followed is 1 kg dal, 1 kg butter, and 1/2 kg cream.
My recipe is a low-calorie, low-fat dal makhani without comprising on taste. Instead of cream, I use milk to make the dish creamy without making it heavy. Also, the recipe does not have butter. It is replaced with ghee which does the trick.
The dish is lighter. Yet, the texture, taste, and color of the dish are similar to your favorite restaurant or dhaba.
After doing a few trails, I found out, adding a few selected whole spices along with the dal to pressure cook certainly gives a delicious, and unique flavor dal makhani.
With this Dal Makhani restaurant style recipe, you will get smooth silky texture, creamy, delicious which is the signature of a good dal makhani. Try this easy recipe once, and you will no longer go to an Indian restaurant to enjoy this delicious dal.
Reasons to make it
- Creamy and buttery
- Vegetarian & Gluten free when paired with rice
- Restaurant style with less calories
- Comfort food
- Pressure cooked without compromising taste and flavors
- Highly flavorful
- Perfect for special occassions.
- Tastes better next day
Ingredients to make Dal Makhani restaurant style
Dal Makhani is all about how you cook and not how many ingredients. You need a handful of ingredients to make Dal Makhani restaurant style. All of them are easily available in any Indian grocery store or regular grocery store and online too. Quality of ingredients matters for the tastiest dal makhani restaurant style.
Whole urad dal with skin: It is the main ingredient. Buy black lentils that are big in size. The quality of lentils makes a big difference. I buy from Prana Organic, they are organic, assure purity, and nutrient value is intact.
Ginger-Garlic paste: An essential ingredient in Indian dishes. These two ingredients flavor the dal. If possible, use freshly ground ginger-garlic, else can use readymade paste too.
Spice powder: Kashmiri red chili powder is used for color. Can add a pinch of garam masala too.
Kasuri methi: It is made from dried fenugreek leaves. A magical ingredient for most of the North Indian dishes. It not only enhances the flavor but also adds a beautiful earthy taste to the dish. Add by crumbling/rubbing between the palm.
Whole spices: Black Cardamon, Bay leaf, Cloves.
Milk: It’s a replacement for cream. Instead of adding water, I cook dal makhani with milk. It adds richness and creamy texture.
You can use whole milk, full cream, toned, or low-fat milk. It gives the authentic Punjabi flavor, so do not skip it.
Cream: In this recipe, I used just 1 tbspn of Amul cream to garnish on the top which gives a restaurant look. You can use salted or unsalted of any brand.
You can even use homemade malai/fresh cream (top thick cream on milk). Just whisk it well before adding.
Tomato puree: In this recipe, I used fresh tomatoes and just blend them to get the puree. I prefer to use store-bought tomato puree which is concentrated and gives a great color and adds flavor too. Do not use chopped tomatoes.
Dal Makhani I had at many restaurants and dhabas were made even without onions.
Step by Step Instructions
Let’s learn to make Dal Makhani restaurant style. Dal Makhani Restaurant style needs pre-prep, that is washing and soaking the black lentils.
1)Take whole urad dal in a bowl.
2) Add water and scrub the dal between palm to remove the black color coating on them.
3) Discard the water and repeat step 2 for 2-3 times until the water runs clear.
4) Add rajma and chana dal to the bowl. Add ample water and soak for 8-12 hours.
5) Add the soaked mix lentils to a pressure cooker and add whole spices – bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, green cardamom, and black cardamom.
6) Add water oil and kashmiri red chili powder. Pressure cook for 5-8 whistles.
7) Check if the lentils are well cooked. Press between fingers and they should be easily mashable.
8) Remove the whole spices and mash the dal with the back of a ladle.
9) In a pan, add oil and ghee. When hot, add a pinch of ghee.
10) Add tomato puree, salt, ginger garlic paste, and kashmiri red chili powder. Saute on medium flame, till oil separates.
11) Add the cooked dals.
12) Mix well and cook for 10-15mins by stirring and mashing the dal.
13) Add milk and mix well.
14) cook on low flame for 10-15 mins. Keep stirring at regular intervals and dal will stick to the bottom of the pan.
15) Mash the dal with a masher or back of a ladle. Adjust the consistency as per your choice.
16) Add crushed kasuri methi, and tomato sauce/ketchup. Give a good mix. Taste for salt and add if needed.
Dal Makhani Restaurant style is ready to relish. Garnish with 1tbspn cream and serve.
I did not smoke the dal as at home many do not like it. If you like the smoky flavor or want to relish it as a Tandoori Cuisine, you can ‘dongar/dhungar‘ the dal.
Place a heatproof bowl in the center of the dal makhani pan.
Heat a piece of charcoal on the direct flame until red hot.
With the help of tongs, place the hot charcoal piece in the bowl.
Pour 1 tablespoon of ghee on the top of the hot charcoal.
You will see fumes coming out of the charcoal. Immediately cover the pan with a lid and keep covered for 2-5 minutes. Do not smoke for more time, it will lead to excessive smoky flavor.
Open the lid, remove the bowl and discard the coal.
Tips to make tastiest Dal Makhani restaurant style
Washing the lentils: Black lentils have a black color coating on them. So, wash the whole black lentils thoroughly. In fact, scrub/rub between hands nicely to take out all the dirt from this dal. Repeat it 2-3 times. You will notice that the color of lentils changes from black to green.
If you skip this step, the color of the gravy will be black color instead of a rich red hue and all your efforts will be in vain.
You can also add salt and scrub the dal. It will help to get rid of the black color easily.
Soaking the lentils: Soak the lentils for a minimum of 8 hours and up to 12 hours. Soaked lentils take less time to cook and mash easily and are easier to digest.
What if I forgot to soak the lentils? Wash the lentils and beans, add to pressure with ample water. Pressure cook for 2 whistles on a high flame and turn off the flame. Keep aside for an hour. The lentils will be the same as soaked for 8 hours.
Minimal spices: Dal Makhani restaurant style is not loaded with spices. The dish is known for its creamy texture and mild flavor. So, do not be tempted to add more spices and overshadow the creamy taste of lentils.
Simmer the dal: I slow cook the dal for at least 30 minutes. If time permits, you can simmer for longer, it will enhance the taste.
Consistency of dal: Restaurant style Dal Makhani has a thick consistency. For that thickening ingredients like rajma and chana dal are added.
But, there is no need for them. Dal Makhani restaurant style gets thick and creamy consistency by slow cooking for a long time and mashing them while cooking in makhani gravy. When the dal is mashed, the starch in it thickens the gravy.
Consistency of the dal is completely your choice, you can make it a little thin consistency too. I have tried it and the taste is not at all compromised.
Rest time: Apart from slow cooking, another secret to best dal makhani is resting time. It is a universal tip in many Indian dishes.
In fact, most of the fine dining restaurants make the dish a day before without adding cream.
You can follow the same at home, as it’s a great make-ahead dish. So, make it a day in advance especially when there are guests or for a get-together. The dal tastes better the next day. Your guests will go slurp, slurp, slurp!
Thick creamy luscious texture makes Dal Makhani restaurant style a versatile dish. It can be relished with any Indian bread – Plain naan, Butter naan, Garlic butter naan, Plain parathas, Lachha Paratha, Missi Roti, Tandoori roti, Rumali roti.
You can have it with rice varieties too, such as plain basmati rice or jeera rice (cumin flavored rice) along with green chutney, salad, or raita, and make it a complete and colorful meal.
How to store Dal Makhani?
I always make sure to make a large batch of dal makhani as it’s perfect for leftovers. For obvious reason, it tastes better the next day.
Let the dal cool completely and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
The dal will get thicker. Reheat by adding little water.
You can also freeze in small portions for up to 6 months (before adding milk or cream).
Craving for more restaurant-style recipes, try these
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Easy Dal Makhani Restaurant style
- 1/2 cup Black whole urad dal (Whole Black gram lentils)
- 1/4 cup Rajma (Kidney beans)
- 1/4 cup Chana dal (Split Bengal gram)
- 2 medium size Bay leaf (tej pata)
- 3 Cloves (laung)
- 1 inch Cinnamon (dalchini)
- 1 Black Cardamon (baadi elaichi)
- 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- 3 cups Water
- 1 tsp Oil
For Makhani Gravy
- 1 tbsp Oil
- 1 tbsp Ghee (Clarified butter)
- 1/4 tspn Hing (Asafoetida)
- 2 medium size Tomatoes (200 ml tomato puree)
- 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic paste
- 1 tsp Kasuri methi
- 1 tbsp Tomato ketchup
- 2 tbsp Oil
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp Garam masala (if you dont have whole spices)
- 1 tbspn Cream to garnish
- Scrub and wash the urad dal well. In a deep bowl add washed dal, rajma, and chana dal. Soak with enough water for 8-12 hours or overnight.
- Drain the soaked water and add the dals to a pressure cooker.
- Add whole spices – bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamom.
- Add 1tsp oil, 1 tbspn kashmiri red chili powder, and 3 cups water. Pressure cook for 5-8 whistles till the dal is mashable.
- Allow the steam to escape and open the lid. Check if the dal is cooked. If not, add more water and pressure cook for some more time.
- Remove the whole spices and mash the dal with the back of a ladle or potato masher. Keep aside.
- Heat oil and ghee in a pan. When hot add a pinch of hing.
- Add homemade tomato puree or store-bought tomato puree, ginger garlic paste, salt, and 1 tbspn kashmiri red chili powder. Cook till oil separates.
- Now, add the cooked dal and give a good mix.
- Mix well and cook for 10-15mins till the dal thickens. Stir and mash the dal at regular intervals.
- Add milk and mix well.
- Simmer (cook on low flame) for 10-15 mins. Keep stirring at regular intervals as dal will stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Mash the dal with a masher or back of a ladle. Adjust the consistency as per your choice. Cook for more time if you like thick consistency or add more milk if you like thin consistency.
- Add crushed kasuri methi, and tomato sauce/ketchup. Give a good mix.
- Taste for salt and add if needed.
- Dal Makhani Restaurant style is ready to relish. Garnish with 1tbspn cream and serve.
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