Daal/Lentils, Featured Curries, Punjabi Cooking, Soup/Salads
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Daal Makhani

Daal Makhani Recipe

Comfort food doesn’t get any better than a bowl of piping hot, creamy, spicy lentils topped with crispy onions, fried green chillies and crunchy fried spinach.

Urad, or black gram lentils are a staple in Indian homes and are used for making a variety of dishes from simple daals to elaborate Masala Dosa. They’re packed with protein and have a heartier texture than mung beans. Because of their tougher texture, they need to be cooked thoroughly to extract as much of their creamy starchiness as possible. I find the easiest way to do this is to soak the urad daal overnight and cook them using a pressure cooker – something you’ll find in every Indian home, rather than it being just an alien contraption collecting dust in the back of your Nan’s cupboard. After that, I slow cook for 6-8 hours for the creamiest, most off the hook daal you’ve ever tasted.

I love dinners like these. A shot from the other day. Spinach, sweet potato and peas in coconut milk, daal makhani, samosas, Indian churros, lime and coriander sour cream chutney and a mega stack of soft chapattis.  #food52 #indianfood #indian #vegetarian #spinach #daal #chapattis #daalmakhani #sweetpotato #rotli #samosas #feast #indianfoodbloggers #ericksonwoodworks #antiqueturquoise #green #indian #instafood #huffposttaste #feedfeed #curry #tastespotting

I love dinners like these. A shot from the other day. Spinach, sweet potato and peas in coconut milk, daal makhani, samosas, Indian churros, lime and coriander sour cream chutney and a mega stack of soft chapattis.

Growing up, I was reared on Gujarati Urad Daal rather than the richer Punjabi version of black gram lentils more popular on restaurant menus around the globe. We were taught that eating urad daal every Saturday (the holy day of Hanuman, the ever-powerful monkey god), we’d become so strong we’d be able to lift mountains. To no surprise, my wrestling-obsessed brother would wolf it down it with plenty of hope and hot, buttery chapattis.

The key difference between Gujarati and Punjabi urad daal is that the Gujarati version has no garam masala, kidney beans or cream. This isn’t to say it’s not delicious but more practical to eat often. However, if I’m honest, the ingredients my native Gujarati version lacked are the things I love so much about the classic Punjabi recipe here. Once you’ve made this version at home, Daal Makhani you get down your local Indian restaurant or takeaway won’t suffice, trust me.

My favourite way to eat Daal Makhani is with Garlic and Coriander Naan, Salted Lassi and nothing more. My recipe may not make you strong enough to uproot mountains like Hanuman dada, but it sure as hell will make you crave a weekly fix every Saturday… or Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Daal Makhani
Serves 4-6


220g urad (black gram lentils), washed and soaked in cold water overnight
200g kidney beans, washed (I use tinned)
1 tbsp oil
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
5 tbsp ginger, grated (loads, don’t be shy)
2 large, thin green chillies, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
200g passata
900ml hot water
Pinch bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp brown sugar or jaggery
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp salt
100ml double cream
50g butter


1. Heat the butter in a pressure cooker, add the cumin seeds, garlic, ginger, chillies, tomato puree and passata. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the hot water and bring to the boil. Stir in the soaked urad and baking powder (this helps them cook quickly and evenly).

2. Put the lid on the pressure cooker and cook on a medium heat for 35 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

3. Stir in the ground coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, sugar, salt and double cream and stir.

3. Blend very briefly with a stick blender, leaving the majority of the urad whole. This is just to make it thick and creamy. Add the kidney beans. Pour in to a slow cooker and cook on high for 6-8 hours, stirring often. At the very end, add the garam masala and a dollop of butter.

3. Serve with fried onions, fried spinach, fried green chillies and a splash of cream (optional).

Note: Urad daal has a tendency to thicken as it cools so you may need to loosen it up with some hot water before serving.

Love Sanjana






  1. The idea of garnishing with crispy fried spinach – ONLY YOU – ONLY YOU KO RASOI!!!!

    Just one word for this recipe AWSOME!!!!!!

  2. Hi Sanjana, I made this yesterday too! You are right it is comfort food especially when it’s so cold outside- somehow it tastes better the next day- I like it with either naan or hot steamy rice. Your pictures make it look so yummy!

  3. Legit! This is one of my favorite Indian dishes to eat at home and abroad! Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. There are so many different kind of daal in India and prepared in so many diff ways, that one can never get bored! Love the presentation out here.

    • Sanjana says

      Hi Nazia, passasta is a sieved tomato puree. You can buy it in all supermarkets.

  5. shivani says

    The green chilli gives the perfect finish to your dish. In India I use ghee in place of cream and daal makhni and tandoori roti (i make it on the girdle at home) jeera aloo, pea pulao and sooji halwa are the ultimate comfort food for me.

  6. Tracey says

    Thank you! This was lovely and I agree, it is comfort food :-) I haven't used cream in Indian cooking before so this dish was a really nice surprise. I used half the salt and for my taste I would use less next time but I am very happy with this dish and look forward to working with more of your recipes. 

  7. Sheila says

    Hi is it possible to make this recipe without using a pressure cooker. How long would you cook it for in a normal pan.

    • Hi Sheila. It would take a really long time. I’d soak the lentils for 12 hours and simmer for 12 hours with plenty of water, stirring every so often.

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