Creamy Whole Black Lentil Curry-Dairy Free Dal Makhani

Butter Dal/ Dal Makhani/ Maa ki Dal(Mom’s Dal) is a simple, lite & delectable combination of whole black lentils & red kidney beans, traditionally slow cooked for hours to rich creamy perfection with some roasted Indian spices. It can then be tempered with a large dollop of wholesome ghee or clarified butter for added richness. Contrary to popular perception, this dal can get a creamy consistency just from slow cooking, thanks to its own texture, without using any heavy dairy products.

A mildly spiced, earthy rustic dal, Dal Makhani is high on several people’s list of traditional homecooked comfort food & today extremely popular at Indian celebrations & weddings the world over.

North Indian comfort food at its ultimate best, most would argue that their mothers’ version would beat all others, and today I present it in its simplest, most non-glamourised light n easy avatar in a pressure cooker (or instant pot), such that you can enjoy it more often within the comfort of your own home, without the extra preservatives/additives of its packaged or restaurant versions!

After all, when a dear subscriber requests for more dal/lentil curry recipes to soothe the soul on wintry evenings, how could thou not oblige gladly?

Packed with dietary fibre & bulk, vitamin B complex, iron, calcium, zinc (my apologies for being unable to fit in all of its nutritive qualities here) and very high on the list of protein content as compared to many other dals, whole black gram is also recommended for building immunity and various other healing properties such as gut health etc.

The optional addition of cream, butter or ghee only enhance its luxurious taste a whole lot more & can therefore be used on special occasions to add richness. Goes really well when paired with Naan, roti, plain steamed rice or pulao. Trust me and try out this one pot meal spelling wholesome goodness and nutrition in your home soon!

To add my usual bit of historical trivia to this post, the modern-day Dal Makhani as we know it, has been popularised by the well known Indian chain of restaurants, Moti Mahal, post Partition, in Delhi’s Daryaganj locality, using tomato for the first time, along with with a whole lot of cream, butter & ghee for added richness & moisture. This was done mainly to add a vegetarian accompaniment to their non vegetarian cousin, the creamy extravagant Butter Chicken.

I believe this dal specifically seems to originate amongst the Punjabis of Peshawar (now Pakistan) who brought it with them to India around 1947 during the India/Pakistan Partition, in a much simpler, humble form using yoghurt as its main souring agent.

Read on to find out the secret ingredients that help give an added zing to this homecooked meal. Hope you enjoy this delightful creamy lentil curry as much as we do!

Recipe for Creamy Whole Black Lentil Curry-Dairy Free Dal Makhani


  • To boil
    • 200 grams whole black gram / whole black udad dal
    • 100 grams kidney beans / rajma
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
    • 1 inch piece ginger, chopped into thing long juliennes/1 tsp ginger paste
  • For sauté
    • 2 tablespoons oil/butter
    • 1 bay leaf/ tej patta
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera seeds
    • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 inch piece ginger, minced
    • 1 medium size onion, finely chopped
    • 2 green chillies, slit (deseed them for lower spice content)
    • 3 small / 2 medium size tomatoes, pureed
    • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder (recipe available on my blog)
    • 1 teaspoon cumin powder / jeera powder
    • ¼ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
    • Salt to taste
    • ½ teaspoon kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
    • 1 handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • Optional final tempering
    • 2 teaspoons butter/ghee
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced


  1. Wash thoroughly & soak the whole black gram & kidney beans separately overnight / 8 hours. Drain off the excess water & wash well. Retain any loose skins that might come off. – that’s all healthy!
  2. Pressure cook with double the water & all ingredients mentioned under ‘To boil’ on high heat for 2 whistles & then on simmer for another 5 whistles. Ensure that the lentils are completely soft & mushy and crush easily between your fingers, as shown in my video.
  3. Mash well using a potato or dal masher.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan/stock pot/pressure cooker. Add the bay leaf & sauté until it darkens.
  5. Add the cumin seeds & allow them to crackle.
  6. Add ginger, garlic and onion and sauté till golden brown.
  7. Add the green chillies, tomato puree and sauté continuously on high heat for 1 minute.
  8. Add the spices now namely, cumin powder, red chilli powder, garam masala powder & salt and mix well for a minute.
  9. Cover and cook on a low flame for 2-3 minutes until the oil starts to separate.
  10. Add the pre-boiled lentils along with the excess water they were cooked in.
  11. Add an additional cup of water to reduce thickness & mix in slowly to incorporate.
  12. Add the kasuri methi and check if spices/salt are to your taste.
  13. Cook with a lid on low heat for about 5-8 minutes until the dals are totally soft and well blended. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  14. Optional: Add an additional tempering of butter / ghee as listed in the ingredients.
  15. Serve hot with your favourite Naan/tandoori roti/ kulcha / plain steamed rice.
  16. For enhanced richness, serve with a dollop of heavy cream


  1. Whole black gram without the black skin is know as Udad dal and is used popularly in the making of dosa / idli.
  2. You can replace the finely minced fresh ginger & garlic with a readymade store bought ginger garlic paste for quick convenience. (approx 2 teaspoons for this recipe).
  3. Likewise you can use store bought tomato puree instead of fresh homemade puree, approx. 2 tablespoons for this recipe.
  4. The addition of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and the added tempering with butter will always ensure you getting the same restaurant style flavour at home.
  5. If you have no dairy related issues, add a teaspoon of cream for added flavour.

Video for Dal Makhani

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