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.

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

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 & easiest version. I here adapt my mother-in-law’s recipe and make it in the Instant Pot.

What 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.

About this recipe

  1. One-pot cooking: Generally the lentils are cooked first individually and then simmered in a sauteed mixture of onion, tomato puree, herbs, spices and butter. Now this recipe is different as it is a one-pot method where all the ingredients are thrown in and then cooked together. Initially, I used to cook in a stove-top pressure cooker but now have switched to Instant Pot.
  2. Taste: The overall 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.
  3. Time: The recipe is 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.

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. I have also shared a smoky restaurant-style stovetop version – Dal Makhani – (restaurant-style recipe)
  • 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.

Serving suggestions

Usually in Punjab, they serve this rich lentil dish topped with lots of white butter and cream. It goes well with Indian bread like roti, naan bread, aloo paratha, aloo kulcha, paneer kulcha or rumali roti. You can also serve with steamed rice and cumin rice.

How to make Instant Pot Dal Makhani

Soaking lentils

1: Rinse 1 cup black lentils (whole urad dal) 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. Drain all the water.

black lentils and kidney beans soaked in water

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

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

Making 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, you can use 1 cup canned tomato purée and 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste.

chopped tomatoes, ginger and garlic in a blender jar

4. Blend till smooth. Keep aside.

smooth puree of tomatoes, ginger and garlic

Cooking in the Instant Pot

5. Add the following spices to the lentils – ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, 1 teaspoon kashmiri chili powder (sub with ½ teaspoon cayenne or paprika) and 1 teaspoon Garam Masala 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. 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.

setting timer to 30 minutes on high pressure with pressure cooking mode on the IP

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

Simmering further

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

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 cream and kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves). Both these ingredients are optional and you can skip them. Remember the consistency should be neither too thick nor thin. If it becomes too thick and then add some water. Also, the curry will thicken more on cooling.

added cream and dried fenugreek leaves

14. Mix very well.

simmering for a minute

15. Simmer for a minute.

instant pot dal makhani done

16. 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 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

Tips and Suggestions

  • Freshness & 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.
  • 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.
  • Spice powders: You can add less or more of the spice powders as per 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.

This recipe is from the archives and has been recently updated to the instant pot version on 27 January 2020. 

This post contains amazon affiliate links. As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases

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instant pot dal makhani

Instant Pot Dal Makhani

5 from 15 votes
Delish and creamy Instant Pot Dal Makhani made with one-pot cooking. No sauteing of any ingredients. Easy method.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr

Cuisine North Indian, Punjabi
Course: Main Course

Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

for soaking

  • 1 cup whole black gram (whole urad dal or kaali dal), 210 grams
  • ½ cup kidney beans (rajma), 50 grams
  • water as required - for soaking

for making tomato puree

  • 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes or 200 grams or 3 medium-sized tomatoes - can use 1 cup 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 powder 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 low-fat cream or 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream - optional
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), crushed - optional
  • few coriander leaves for garnishing - optional
  • some ginger julienne for garnishing - 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. 
  • 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 & quality: Use fresh lentils. Aged lentils and beans take a long time to cook. Thus 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 gravy becomes too thick, then add some water. 
  • Spice powders: You can add less or more of the spice powders as per 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. 

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Dal Makhani
Amount Per Serving
Calories 228 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 43mg14%
Sodium 106mg5%
Potassium 494mg14%
Carbohydrates 19g6%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 1095IU22%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 10mg12%
Vitamin D 1µg7%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 7µg7%
Calcium 50mg5%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 102µg26%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 44mg11%
Phosphorus 122mg12%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Dassana Amit

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77 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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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