I love the creamy deliciousness of well-made Dal Makhani. I love how it literally melts in your mouth and slides down your throat. I love how simple, how unassuming, it looks but how it manages to surprise you with the burst of flavours that it is. Well-made Dal Makhani is a joy to eat, and absolutely not a difficult thing to get right at home.
Dal Makhani has always been projected as this dish that needs hours and hours of slow cooking, perfect technique and measurements to get right, something that is very difficult to achieve in a home setting. However, that so isn’t the case. A good Dal Makhani is, at its heart, very simple. You can pare down the ingredients to a minimum – even cut out the cream, which is considered a must – and still get an awesome, awesome Dal Makhani. Considering this, it is actually a highly nutritious dish, especially so if you can manage to use home-made spice powders. Just think of all the protein packed into that black urad that goes in there!
I have seen a number of celebrity chefs prepare Dal Makhani on television, seen several home chefs and my very own house help make it several times over. Somewhere down the line, I started making it myself, going on to develop a simple style that perfectly suits my family’s taste buds. We rather prefer this home-made version of Dal Makhani to the cream- and calorie-laden version that is typically served in restaurants.
Today, I share with you the way I make Dal Makhani at home. I will very occasionally use cream in it, that too just a teeny bit for garnishing. I cook it for 20-25 minutes, which is enough to give it a silky smoothness and gorgeous taste. As opposed to the traditional method of making Dal Makhani on a wood fire, I cook it in a pan. There is no smoky fragrance in the Dal Makhani I make – my family and I aren’t big fans of it, anyway. Ok, maybe my Dal Makhani isn’t the most authentic version there is, but it surely is delicious and healthy!
Let’s now check out my Healthy Dal Makhani Recipe, shall we?
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
- 1/2 cup whole black urad dal (sabut udad)
- 4 medium-sized tomatoes
- A 1-inch piece of ginger
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- 1 medium-sized onion
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 generous pinches of asafoetida
- A 1/2-inch piece of cinnamon
- 2-3 cloves
- 2-3 green cardamom
- 1 medium-sized bay leaf
- 1 black cardamom
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon amchoor powder (optional)
- About 1/2 teaspoon of kasoori methi
- Cream, as needed to garnish (optional)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander for garnishing
1. Wash the whole black urad well under running water. Drain out all the water. Add in enough fresh water to cover the washed and drained urad, and let it soak for 8-10 hours or overnight.
2. When the urad is done soaking, drain out all the water from it. Transfer it to a wide vessel and add in just enough fresh water to cover it. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker and put the weight on. Pressure cook the urad for 5-6 whistles on high flame or till it is well cooked, soft and mushy. Let the pressure release naturally.
3. Chop up the tomatoes roughly. Peel the garlic cloves. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Grind the tomatoes, ginger and garlic together in a mixer to a fine puree. Keep aside.
4. Chop the onion finely. Keep aside.
5. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down completely, remove the cooked urad dal from it. The urad should be super soft – there should be no give to it.
6. Heat the butter in a large pan. Add in the cumin and let it stay in for a couple of seconds. Add in the cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamom, bay leaf, cloves and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
7. Add the chopped onions to the pan. Cook on medium flame till the onions begin to brown.
8. Add the tomato-ginger-garlic puree to the pan. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder and Kashmiri red chilli powder. Cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes, or till the raw smell of the ingredients goes away. Stir intermittently.
9. Add the cooked urad dal to the pan, along with the water it was cooked in. Add about 1/2 cup of fresh water or as needed to adjust the consistency. Cook on medium flame for about 15 minutes or till the dal begins to thicken.
10. Add garam masala and amchoor powder to the pan, and more water if you feel the dal is getting too thick. Adjust salt and other spices. Mix well.
11. Continue to cook on medium flame for 3-4 more minutes. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas.
12. Crush the kasoori methi roughly with your hands and mix it into the Dal Makhani. Mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander too.
13. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, garnished with a dollop of fresh cream. This Healthy Dal Makhani can be served with rotis, parathas or steamed rice – some of these pickled onions would make a great accompaniment!
1. You can use a mix of rajma and whole black urad to make the Dal Makhani. I have not used rajma here.
2. Butter works best in the tempering for Dal Makhani. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences. I have used Amul salted butter here. You may use ghee instead, too.
3. Make sure the urad dal is very well cooked and soft, before adding it to the pan. There should be no crunch to it.
4. The whole spices used in the tempering – cumin, cinnamon, cloves, black cardamom, green cardamom and bay leaves – add all the zing that the Dal Makhani needs. If you don’t have any of these spices, though, you can omit it. The cumin is a must, though.
5. The slow cooking of the urad dal is what gives this Healthy Dal Makhani its creaminess. You can add in a tablespoon or so of fresh cream after the Dal Makhani is cooked and done, for more richness, but that is entirely up to you. Skip the fresh cream altogether if you are not comfortable using it, and your Dal Makhani will still be creamy and lovely. Here, I have used Amul fresh cream only for the purpose of garnishing the Dal Makhani.
6. Some people add coriander powder, fennel powder and/or roasted cumin powder to Dal Makhani. I don’t. I have used only a very little quantity of garam masala here.
7. Add the garam masala towards the end of the cooking, so it does not lose its flavour.
8. Kitchen King Masala, Dal Makhani masala or Chana Masala can also be used in place of the garam masala, in the above Healthy Dal Makhani Recipe.
9. Add the kasoori methi at the very end, after the Dal Makhani has finished cooking.
10. I like adding a bit of amchoor powder to the Dal Makhani. You may omit it if you don’t want to use it.
11. You can skip the onions, ginger and garlic if you want to.
12. Use Kashmiri red chilli powder in this recipe for best results. It imparts a very mild spiciness to the Dal Makhani, without making it overly hot, just the way it is supposed to be. It also adds a lovely colour to the Dal Makhani. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences.
13. Dal Makhani is traditionally slow-cooked on a wood fire, which infuses the dish with a smoky fragrance. The above recipe is not a slow-cook version – it is cooked for 20-25 minutes as opposed to the hours of simmering the traditional Dal Makhani is subject to. There is no smoky fragrance in this version, though that can easily be achieved using a little piece of charcoal.
14. A few minor changes can help you make this dish vegan and gluten-free.
This recipe is for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge that I am part of. Every month, the food bloggers in the group pair up, and each pair exchanges secret ingredients. Then, the bloggers go on to use these secret ingredients to create a recipe from a particular Indian state’s cuisine.
The theme this month is Punjabi cuisine, food from the Indian state of Punjab. Punjabi cuisine is known the world over for being robust and supremely flavourful, with a number of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes on offer. Makke Di Roti, Sarson Da Saag, Dal Makhani, Chana Masala, Paneer Butter Masala, Rajma Masala, Kadhi Pakode, Pindi Chhole, Atte Ka Halwa and Malai Lassi are some examples of the delicious vegetarian food and drink from this state.
My partner for the month is Mayuri, who blogs at Mayuri’s Jikoni. She assigned me two secret ingredients – cream and Kashmiri red chilli powder – and I decided to showcase this Dal Makhani recipe using them. I gave Mayuri the two secret ingredients of paneer and tomato – check out the absolutely scrumptious Paneer Butter Masala she has dished up using them!