Dal Bukhara recipe with step by step photos – a dish that comes close to Dal makhani and was made famous by the ITC Maurya Hotel in New Delhi.
The recipe of dal bukhara consists of minimal ingredients and this is what brings out the best in this recipe. Unlike dal makhani, dal bukhara is made only with whole urad lentils (black gram) and not with rajma (kidney beans). Also, dal bukhara is slow-cooked overnight on the tandoor.
I first came across this simple creamy lentil dish in Femina magazine many years ago. The recipe section in this issue had recipes from maurya sheraton and surprisingly the ITC Maurya Sheraton chefs had shared the recipe of dal bukhara along with the other recipes.
When I read the dal bukhara recipe first time, I was surprised that the recipe bore close resemblance to butter chicken or paneer makhani. Dal makhani was not in my repertoire then. Now I can say that the sauce made for dal bukhara and dal makhani is similar to butter chicken. What I felt and thought many years back is confirmed by this excellent informative piece of Indian cuisine history here by Vir Sanghvi.
I had kept the dal makhani recipe cut-outs in a book safe and secure. We shifted our home a few times and along with usual changes that happen throughout life. Dal Bukhara was forgotten for many years. So when I started food blogging, I went to check the recipe and I was in for a surprise. Out of the 3-4 pages I had kept, only 2 pages were left. Somehow the other pages had got misplaced. And one of the missing pages had the original authentic recipe of dal bukhara from the ITC Maurya Sheraton chefs. I only had the page having the dal bukhara photo 🙁 (pictured below).
So I recollected the ingredients used in the original recipe. I even got the dal bukhara ready to eat pack just to check the ingredients used. The only spice which I was not sure of was Tej patta. so I knew almost all the ingredients but I did not know their proportions.
I experimented and made dal bukhara twice and felt something missing. The third time it came close to the original one. The only ingredient missing was the charcoal flavor.
Also, I have not slow-cooked the beans overnight on a tandoor. I don’t have wooden or charcoal embers nor do I have a tandoor or time to cook dal bukhara overnight. A slow cooker would do the job. But I have no experience with a slow cooker. So I have pressure cooked the beans first and then slowly simmered the dal with tomato, cream, butter and ginger-garlic for 1 hour 25 mins on a low flame.
There is method to give a charcoal flavor to dal bukhara which we call Dhungar. Details on how to do the Dhungar or smoking technique, I have mentioned in the recipe details notes section. I have explained the dhungar technique in more detail in this recipe of Dal Tadka.
This dal bukhara is a rich recipe with the amount of butter and cream gone in its preparation. To get the real taste I would not suggest reducing the cream or butter. As I have tried with a lesser amount of butter and cream and it just had that ‘something is missing or just not right’ point. I have used unsalted white butter and amul cream (25% low fat). You can use any good brand of butter and low-fat dairy cream (25% to 30%) or whipping cream.
Serve dal bukhara hot with jeera rice or naan or lachha paratha or phulka or tandoori roti or khasta roti. It goes best with naan.
How to make dal bukhara
1. Soak 1.5 cups whole urad dal (whole black gram) in enough water overnight or for 7 to 8 hours. drain them later and add the drained lentils in a 3 or 4-litre pressure cooker. Add 4.5 to 5 cups water and pressure cook the lentils for 16 to 18 whistles or for about 18 to 20 minutes. Pic below of the soaked and drained lentils.
2. Meanwhile when the lentils are getting cooked, make a puree of the 250 grams tomatoes (3 medium to large tomatoes) in a blender. Crush the ginger and garlic to a paste in a mortar-pestle (½ inch ginger + 4 to 5 medium garlic or about 2 tsp of ginger garlic paste).
3. When the pressure settles down on its own, open the lid of the pressure cooker. The lentils should be cooked well and soft.
4. Now add the ginger-garlic paste, tomato puree, 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder, 6-7 tbsp white butter, 7-8 tbsp low fat cream, 1 to 1.5 cup water and salt.
5. Stir very well and keep the pressure cooker without its lid on a low flame.
6. Let the dal simmer for about 1 hour or more. Meanwhile keep on stirring often, so that the lentils don’t stick at the bottom of the cooker. The lentils become viscous and start to stick at the bottom if not stirred. The lentils would become creamy and the consistency of the dal will keep on thickening. You can add some hot water to reduce the dal bukhara from getting too thick. Also, mash some of the lentils while stirring.
7. Towards the end, check the taste and add more red chili powder or salt if required. Lastly, sprinkle ½ tsp garam masala powder and stir well. The consistency of dal bukhara is like dal makhani.
8. While serving dal bukhara, dot with 1 tbsp butter or cream. Garnish with ginger juliennes and Serve dal bukhara hot with cumin rice or with Indian flatbreads like naan, paratha or roti. It goes best with naan. I served with cumin rice and onion rings salad.
Some more Dal recipes
- 1.5 cups whole urad dal or whole black gram
- 250 grams tomatoes or 3 medium to large tomatoes
- 1 inch ginger + 4 to 5 medium garlic cloves - crushed finely in a mortar-pestle - about 2 teaspoons of ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder or deghi mirch - if using a hotter variety then use ½ teaspoon
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 90 to 100 grams white butter or regular butter - about 6 to 7 tablespoons white butter
- 7 to 8 tablespoon low fat cream or 25% to 30% fat or 3 to 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 4.5 to 5 cups water for pressure cooking the lentils
- 1 to 1.5 cup water to be added later
- 1 inch ginger - julienned for garnish (optional)
- 1 tablespoon butter or cream for garnish (optional)
- salt as required
preparation for dal bukhara
- Soak the lentils in enough water overnight or for 7 to 8 hours.
- Drain them later and add the drained lentils in a 3 or 4 litre pressure cooker.
- Add 4.5 to 5 cups water and pressure cook the lentils for 16 to 18 whistles or about 18 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile when the lentils are getting cooked, make a puree of the tomatoes in a blender and crush the ginger and garlic to a paste in mortar-pestle.
making dal bukhara
- When the pressure settles down on its own, open the lid of the pressure cooker.
- Then add the ginger garlic paste, tomato puree, kashmiri red chili powder, butter, cream and salt. Also add 1 to 1.5 cups of water.
- Stir very well and keep the pressure cooker without its lid on a low flame. Let the dal simmer for about 1 hour or for 1 hour 30 mins.
- Meanwhile keep on stirring often, so that the lentils don't stick at the bottom of the cooker. Also mash some of the lentils while stirring.
- If the dal bukhara becomes thick, then add some hot water. Once done, check the taste and add more red chili powder or salt if required.
- Lastly sprinkle garam masala powder and stir well.
- While serving dal bukhara, dot with the butter or cream. Garnish with ginger juliennes.
- Serve hot with cumin rice or with Indian flatbreads like naan, paratha or rotis.
- Secure firmly a small piece of the coal between a tong.
- Heat it in the flame till it becomes red hot.
- Now place the red hot coal in a small steel bowl. Place this bowl on top of the cooked dal bukhara in the cooker.
- Pour a few tsp of ghee (oil or butter) on the coal and quickly cover the lid of the cooker tightly.
- Keep for a few minutes and then open the lid. If you want a pronounced charcoal flavor in the dal bukhara, then you have to keep for a few minutes more.