Instant Pot Dal Makhani

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Instant Pot Dal Makhani made easy with step by step photos. One of our staples during weekends is Dal Makhani which is a slow-cooked lentil dish from the Punjabi cuisine. Here I share to make this delicious lentil curry in the Instant Pot. Serve this Instant Pot Dal Makhani with roti, paratha, naan or steamed basmati rice for rich luxurious meal.

instant pot dal makhani served in a navy blue rimmed white glass bowl with a brass spoon on the side on a white marble board

About This Recipe

This most popular Punjabi lentil dish made in the Instant Pot gives you a homely tasting Dal Makhani. This One Pot Dal Makhani recipe is the simplest and easiest version I make.

I here adapt my mother-in-law’s recipe and make it in the Instant Pot. This is a fail proof recipe that I have been making for many years. Initially, I used to cook it in a stove-top pressure cooker but now have switched to Instant Pot.

As with when cooking with dried lentils, you do need to soak them ahead. So there is a prep involved of soaking the lentils. But after the soaking step, making the recipe is simply easy in the Instant Pot.

Usually the traditional recipe calls for cooking only the lentils first and later they are simmered in a sautéed mixture of onion, tomato puree, herbs, spices and butter. But this recipe is completely different as it is a one-pot method where all the ingredients are thrown in and then cooked together.

The flavor and taste of this Instant Pot Dal Makhani is very good. You can definitely perk it up by using dhungar method (smoking with charcoal). When doing this method, remove the steel insert from the Instant Pot and place it on the kitchen countertop.

The lentils are pressure cooked for 30 minutes and later simmered for 8 minutes. So the overall cooking time is 38 to 40 minutes. When the lentils are getting pressure cooked, you can steam rice or prepare roti or naan.

Ingredients You Need

This rich creamy lentil dish is made with lentils, tomato puree, ginger-garlic paste, spices, butter and cream.

  • Lentils: The lentils are Whole Black Lentils (called Urad dal or Kaali Dal in Hindi) and Red Kidney Beans (known as Rajma in Hindi). Below is a photo of both, after they have been soaked and drained of all the water.
Whole Black Lentils and kidney beans in a bowl
  • Butter: Generally White Butter is added which is called Makhan in Hindi. The word “Makhani” means buttery and smooth. You can even add yellow butter.
  • Cream: Fresh Cream is also added which makes the lentils rich. Due to the addition of ingredients like butter and cream, this instant pot dal makhani has a rich creamy taste. Though note that you can avoid cream completely.
  • Tomato puree: You can blend tomatoes to get a smooth puree or use canned tomato puree.
  • Ginger-garlic paste: Crush equal amounts of ginger-garlic in a mortar-pestle to get 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste or use ready ginger-garlic paste.
instant pot dal makhani served in a navy blue rimmed white glass bowl with a brass spoon inside the bowl. kept on a white marble board

More Trivia

  • Many ways: There are many methods of making this dish. In the traditional method, the pot of lentils is simmered on a slow charcoal fire overnight. Due to this the cooking method the charcoal flavor infuses in the dish giving it a nice rustic flavor and taste.
  • Popular lentil dish: You can see this dish being served in weddings, engagements and almost any parties in India. It is not only popular in North India, but also in South India. If you are looking for the traditional method, then do check this smoky restaurant-style stovetop version of Dal Makhani.
  • Leftovers: For some unknown reason, it tastes even better on the second day. There are some Punjabi recipes like sarson da saag, Amritsari dal and dal makhani that tastes better on the second day. But don’t eat too much as it is heavy on the stomach.
Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Instant Pot Dal Makhani

Soak Lentils

1. Rinse 1 cup black lentils (whole urad dal with their skins) and ¼ cup kidney beans (rajma) very well in water for a couple of times. Then soak both the lentils and beans overnight if you are making the dish in the morning.

If you are making it in the evening, then soak them in the morning. Drain the soaked water and rinse the black lentils and kidney beans with fresh water a few times. Drain all the water.

Ensure that the lentils are fresh and in their shelf period. The aged lentils will take more time to cook and also won’t taste so good.

black lentils and kidney beans soaked in water

2. Then add the lentils and beans in the steel insert pot of the Instant Pot.

lentils and beans rinsed and then added in the steel insert of the instant pot

Make Tomato Puree

3. Take 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes, 1.5 teaspoons chopped ginger and 1.5 teaspoons chopped garlic in a blender or mixer jar.

Alternatively, use 1 cup canned tomato purée and 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste.

chopped tomatoes, ginger and garlic in a blender jar

4. Blend till fine and smooth. Set aside.

smooth puree of tomatoes, ginger and garlic

Cook in the Instant Pot

5. Add the following spices to the lentils:

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder (ground cumin)
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (sub with ½ teaspoon cayenne or paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder or Punjabi garam masala powder.
  • Also, add salt as per taste.
spice powders added on the lentils

6. Now add the blended tomato, ginger, garlic puree to the lentils. You can even add finely chopped ⅓ to ½ cup onions at this step.

tomato, ginger, garlic puree added on the lentils

7. Pour 3 cups of water. Stir and mix very well.

water added

8. Switch the IP on. Press the pressure cooker switch on high pressure and set the timer to 30 minutes.

You can even use the Bean/Chili option of the Instant Pot which has an auto setting of pressure cooking on high pressure for 30 minutes.

front panel of the instant pot with 30 minutes displayed in the time panel and pressure cook button encircled with a white circle

9. After the lentils are pressure cooked, wait for 10 or 12 minutes. Then do a quick pressure release (QPR) – lift the valve and remove any steam left. Remove the lid.

You will see that the lentils will have softened really well and that the beans and lentils are cooked and the consistency is slightly watery and broth-like. The end result should be smooth and creamy.

So the whole mixture has to be simmered till the consistency thickens a bit and becomes creamy. If the lentils are undercooked, then pressure cook for some more minutes (adding some more water if required).

lentils pressure cooked

Simmer Further

10: Press the sauté button for 7 to 8 minutes on normal.

front display panel of the Instant pot with a white circle on the sauté button

11. Add 2 tablespoons white butter. You can even use yellow butter. The butter will melt.

added butter

12. With the back of the spoon mash some of the cooked lentils and beans. Stir often. The stirring will also help in mashing a few of the cooked lentils and beans. Mashing the lentils also helps in making the gravy smooth and slightly thickening the consistency.

Stir often so that the lentils do not stick to the bottom of the steel insert pot. While using the sauté option, you can even set it to the low mode for a slow simmer. But keep on stirring often.

mixing and mashing lentils with a spoon

13. Once the consistency is thickened, add ¼ cup light cream and ½ to 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) that has been crushed.

Both these ingredients are optional and you can skip them. Instead of light cream, add 2 tablespoons of heavy cream or whipping cream.

Remember the consistency should be neither too thick nor thin. If it becomes too thick, then add some water and mix. Also do note that the curry will thicken more on cooling.

added cream and dried fenugreek leaves

14. Stir and mix very well.

simmering for a minute

15. Simmer for a minute.

instant pot dal makhani done

16. Serve Instant Pot Dal Makhani hot or warm with Indian flatbreads like roti, naan bread, tandoori roti or lachha paratha or aloo paratha or plain paratha or rumali roti.

You can also serve it with cumin rice or biryani rice or steamed basmati rice. If you like then while serving drizzle some cream or top with some butter. You can even garnish with coriander leaves (cilantro) and ginger julienne.

instant pot dal makhani served in a navy blue rimmed white glass bowl with a brass spoon on the side on a white marble board

Serving suggestions

Usually in Punjab, they serve this rich lentil dish topped with lots of white butter and cream.

It pairs well with Indian bread like roti, naan bread, aloo paratha, aloo kulcha, paneer kulcha or rumali roti or tandoori roti or plain paratha or laccha paratha. You can also serve it with steamed basmati rice or cumin rice.

Expert Tips and Variations

  • Freshness and quality of lentils: If the lentils or beans are aged, then they will take a long time to cook. So you can pressure cook further for 10 to 15 minutes. Add ½ to 1 cup water while pressure cooking further. For best taste use fresh lentils that are in their shelf period and also soak them overnight in water.
  • Consistency: If the curry becomes too thick, then add some water. Mash some lentils while simmering (in the last part of the cooking). Mashing lentils help in thickening the gravy.
  • Ground Spices: You can add less or more of the ground spice powders according to your taste preferences.
  • Substituting tomatoes, ginger & garlic: Add 1 cup canned or homemade tomato puree and 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste. You can even crush the ginger & garlic in a mortar-pestle.
  • Vegan options: Use 2 to 3 tablespoons oil instead of butter. Skip cream or you can add cashew cream or coconut cream. With coconut cream, the flavors of coconut will be felt.
  • Optional ingredients: Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and cream can be skipped completely. You can even add ⅓ to ½ cup of finely chopped onions with the spice powders and tomato puree.
  • Spice substitutions: Instead of cumin powder, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds. If you do not have red chilli powder or cayenne pepper, then add 1 to 2 green chillies or serrano peppers. You can skip ground turmeric powder.

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instant pot dal makhani

Instant Pot Dal Makhani

Delish and creamy Instant Pot Dal Makhani made with one-pot cooking. No sauteing of any ingredients. Easy method.
5 from 18 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Cuisine North Indian, Punjabi
Course Main Course
Diet Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

For soaking

  • 1 cup whole black gram (whole urad dal with their husks or kaali dal), 210 grams
  • ¼ cup kidney beans (rajma), 50 grams
  • water as required – for soaking

For making tomato puree

  • 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes – 200 grams or 3 medium-sized tomatoes – can use 1 cup fresh or canned tomato puree instead
  • 1.5 teaspoons chopped ginger or 1.5 inches ginger, chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoons chopped garlic or 8 to 9 small to medium garlic cloves, chopped

Other ingredients

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder or ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala or punjabi garam masala – can sub with curry powder instead
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder (ground cumin)
  • ⅓ to ½ cup finely chopped onions or 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped – optional
  • salt as required
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons White Butter or 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or oil
  • ¼ cup light cream or 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream – optional
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi), crushed – optional
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons coriander leaves for garnish – optional
  • 1 teaspoon ginger julienne for garnish – optional

Instructions
 

Soaking lentils and beans

  • Soak both the kidney beans (rajma) and whole black lentils (urad dal) overnight if you are making this in the morning. Rinse the lentils for a couple of times before soaking.
  • If you are making it in the evening, then soak the lentils in the morning.
  • Later discard all the water from the lentils well and then rinse them with fresh water.
  • Add the rinsed lentils in the steel insert pot of the IP.

Making tomato puree

  • Take the chopped tomatoes, chopped ginger and chopped garlic in a blender or mixer jar. Alternatively, you can use 1 cup canned tomato purée and 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste and add directly in the pot.
  • Blend till smooth. Keep aside.

Cooking in the instant pot

  • Add all the spices powders – turmeric powder, cumin powder, kashmiri chilli powder and Garam Masala or Punjabi Garam masala. Also, add salt as per taste.
  • Now add the blended tomato, ginger, garlic puree and water. You can even add finely chopped ⅓ to ½ cup onions at this step. 
  • Stir and mix very well.
  • Switch the IP on. Press the pressure cooker switch on high pressure and set the timer to 30 minutes. You can even use the Bean/Chili option of the Instant Pot which has an auto setting of pressure cooking on high pressure for 30 minutes.
  • After the lentils are pressure cooked, wait for 10 or 12 minutes. Then do a quick pressure release (QPR) – lift the valve and remove any steam left.
  • Remove the lid. You will see that that the beans and lentils are cooked well, but the consistency of the curry is slightly watery and broth-like. The end result should be smooth and creamy. So the whole mixture has to be simmered till the consistency thickens a bit and becomes creamy. 
  • Note that the lentils have to be softened and cooked well. You should be able to mash both the urad dal and rajma with a spoon if they are cooked completely. If the lentils are undercooked than pressure cook for some more minutes. Add some water if required.

Simmering further

  • Press the sauté button for 7 to 8 minutes on normal.
  • Add butter. Stir and mix.
  • With the back of the spoon mash some of the lentils and beans. Stir often. The stirring will also help in mashing a few of the cooked lentils and beans. Mashing the lentils also helps in making the gravy smooth and slightly thickening the consistency.
  • While using the sauté option, you can even set it to the low mode for a slow simmer. But keep on stirring often. 
  • Once the consistency is thickened, add cream and kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves). Mix well. Both these ingredients are optional and you can skip them.
  • Remember the consistency should be neither thick nor thin. If it becomes too thick and then add some water. Also, it will thicken more on cooling.
  • While simmering do stir often so that the lentils do not stick to the bottom of the steel pot.
  • Serve Instant Pot Dal Makhani with Indian Flatbreads like roti, naan bread, tandoori roti or lachha paratha or aloo paratha. You can also serve it with cumin rice or biryani rice.
  • If you like then while serving add drizzle some cream or top with some butter. You can even garnish with coriander leaves (cilantro) and ginger julienne.

Notes

  • Lentil Freshness and quality: Use fresh lentils. Aged lentils and beans take a long time to cook. So you can pressure cook further for 10 to 15 minutes. Add ½ to 1 cup water while pressure cooking further. 
  • Consistency:  Mash some lentils while simmering (in the last part of the cooking). Mashing lentils help in thickening the gravy. If the consistency becomes too thick, then add some water. 
  • Ground Spices: You can add less or more of the ground spice powders as per your taste preferences. 
  • Substituting tomatoes, ginger and garlic: Add 1 cup canned or homemade tomato puree and 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste. You can even crush the ginger and garlic in a mortar-pestle.
  • Vegan options: Use 2 to 3 tablespoons oil instead of butter. Skip cream or you can add cashew cream or coconut cream. With coconut cream, the flavors of coconut will be felt. 
  • Optional ingredients: Dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) and cream can be skipped completely. You can even add ⅓ to ½ cup of finely chopped onions with the ground spice powders and tomato puree. 
  • Spice substitutions: Instead of cumin powder, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds. If you do not have red chilli powder or cayenne pepper, then add 1 to 2 green chillies or serrano peppers. You can skip ground turmeric powder. 

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Dal Makhani
Amount Per Serving
Calories 312 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 31mg10%
Sodium 249mg11%
Potassium 353mg10%
Carbohydrates 37g12%
Fiber 13g54%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 16g32%
Vitamin A 968IU19%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Vitamin D 1µg7%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 7µg7%
Calcium 70mg7%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 57µg14%
Iron 5mg28%
Magnesium 30mg8%
Phosphorus 78mg8%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Instant Pot Dal Makhani from the archives first published in August 2009 has been recently updated to the instant pot version on 19 January 2022.

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79 Comments

  1. It is just so good and especially the pictures that are provided help a lot and also the option to see the quantity of ingredients. Lastly keep going on and giving us more delicious recipes like these.5 stars

  2. Could you give me measurements of the tomatoes and Onions in cups like you do innother recipes? Hard to tell for me. Your site is amazing thank you!

    1. alex, you can use 1/3rd to 1/2 cup onions and 1/2 to 2/3rd cup of chopped tomatoes. thanks.

  3. Hi Dassana,
    Is it ok to cook dal makhani with white urad dal, i.e. Without chilka?
    If not, are there any other recipe suggestions for using white urad dal, in the form of a ‘dal’?
    Thanks

    1. Sweta, the taste will be different. You can just make plain dal fry or dal tadka with white urad dal. You can add your choice of seasonings and herbs in it. for reference you can check dal fry recipe posted on blog.

      1. Hi,
        Thanks for the reply. I have tried making it ‘dal fry’ style, the only problem is that urad dal is sticky/viscous so it doesn’t taste that good. However, I’ll give it a try using your dal fry recipe, And next time I’ll buy the one with chilka ?

        1. welcome sweta. urad dal is viscous. the trick is not cook it too much. it becomes lumpy and viscous. it tastes good if made well. even the chilka one tastes good. next time you can try adding some chana dal to the chilka urad dal. their combo is good and we call it as kaali peeli dal or maah chole di dal in punjabi.

        2. Thanks for the tips. I’ll give it a try. So once the dal becomes soft, we should stop cooking it?

        3. welcome sweta. if the urad dal has cooked well, then no need to further cook it. if you have to cook it, then slow cook it stirring often.

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