Instant Pot Dal Makhani

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One of our staples during weekends is a creamy Dal Makhani, which is a slow-cooked lentil dish from classic Punjabi cuisine. Here, I share a recipe on how to make this delicious curried lentils in the Instant Pot; where you do not need to sauté any ingredients. Simply add them, pressure cook and later simmer. But keep in mind that you do need to presoak the lentils.

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 Instant Pot Dal Makhani

One of the most popular Punjabi dishes is the lentil dish named Dal Makhani, and this version made in the Instant Pot gives you a comforting tasting dish. This Instant Pot Dal Makhani recipe gets done just in one-pot, is the simplest and easiest version I make.

I have adapted my mother-in-law’s recipe to make this Instant Pot Dal Makhani. This is a fail proof recipe that I have been making for many years now.

Initially, I used to cook it in a stovetop pressure cooker. But now, have happily switched to making it in the Instant Pot.

As with when cooking with dried lentils, you do need to soak them ahead. So, there is some prep involved of soaking the lentils in this Instant Pot Dal Makhani too. But after the soaking step, making the recipe in the Instant Pot is very easy and fuss free.

Usually, the traditional Dal Makhani Recipe calls for cooking only the lentils first and later simmering in a sautéed mixture of onion, tomato puree, herbs, spices and butter.

But this recipe of Instant Pot Dal Makhani is completely different and unique, as it is an actual and real one-pot method where all the ingredients are dunked in and then cooked together.

The lentils together with the other essential ingredients like tomato puree, ground spices, seasonings are pressure cooked in the Instant Pot 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 to serve alongside the lentils.

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

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 cooking method, the charcoal flavor infuses in the dish giving it a nice rustic taste.

This Instant Pot Dal Makhani is just an easier and quicker way of making it using the Instant Pot. You can see this dish being served in weddings, engagements and almost any parties in India. This dish is much-loved dish in India.

For some unknown reason, this Instant Pot Dal Makhani or even the traditional one tastes even better on the second day. But don’t consume too much as it is heavy on the stomach.

There are some other Punjabi recipes like Sarson Da Saag and Amritsari Dal too that taste better, the next day.

Essential Ingredients

This rich luscious Instant Pot Dal Makhani is made with lentils, tomato puree, ginger-garlic paste, spices, butter and cream. Here’s some more on each on each of these elements that make this dish, truly special.

  • Lentils: Whole black lentils (urad dal or kali dal in Hindi) and red kidney beans (rajma in Hindi) are used in this recipe.
  • Butter: Generally White Butter, also known as safed makhan in Hindi, is added. The word ‘makhani’ also means ‘buttery and smooth.’ But even with yellow butter the lentils taste good.
  • Ginger-garlic paste: Crush equal amounts of ginger and garlic in a mortar-pestle to get 1 tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste or use readymade ginger-garlic paste.
  • Tomato puree: You can blend tomatoes to get a smooth puree or use canned tomato puree.
  • Cream: Fresh light cream or whipping cream is also added, which makes the dish rich. Because of ingredients like butter and cream, this Instant Pot Dal Makhani is quite rich. However, you can skip adding the cream too.
  • Dried Fenugreek: This fragrant ingredient also known as ‘Kasuri Methi’ in Hindi adds a lovely aroma to the lentils. While it is not an essential ingredient, but it does perk up the flavors of the lentils.
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.
Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Instant Pot Dal Makhani

Soak Lentils

1. Rinse 1 cup black lentils (whole urad dal with 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. 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 inner cooking pot of a 6 quart Instant Pot. Set aside.

lentils and beans rinsed and 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 puree and 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste.

chopped tomatoes, ginger and garlic added in a grinder jar.

4. Blend till fine and smooth. Set aside.

ingredients ground to a smooth, fine puree.

Cook In The Instant Pot

5. Add the following ground spices to the lentils:

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder (ground cumin)
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (substitute with ½ teaspoon cayenne or paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • salt according to taste
spice powders and salt added on the lentils.

6. Now, add the prepared tomato-ginger-garlic puree to the lentils.

You can also add ⅓ to ½ cup finely chopped onions at this point.

prepared puree added to lentils.

7. Pour 3 cups water. Stir and mix to thoroughly.

water added.

8. Turn the IP on. Press the pressure cooker button 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 and you hear the beep sound, wait for 10 or 12 minutes. Then, carefully do a quick pressure release (QPR) – lift the valve and remove any steam left. Remove the lid.

You will see that the lentils would have softened really well, the beans and lentils are cooked and the consistency is slightly watery and broth-like.

But note that the end result must be smooth and creamy. To achieve this, the whole mixture has to be simmered until 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 needed).

lentils pressure cooked.

Simmer Further

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

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

11. Add 2 tablespoons white butter. The butter will melt.

You could also opt to use yellow butter. The butter could be salted or unsalted.

butter added.

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 as well as slightly thickens 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 stirring often.

mixing and mashing lentils with a spoon.

13. Once the consistency is thickened, add ¼ cup light cream (or 2 tablespoons whipping or heavy cream) and ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi).

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

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

cream and crushed dried fenugreek leaves added.

14. Stir and mix very well.

simmering instant pot dal makhani for a minute.

15. Simmer for a minute.

cooked instant pot dal makhani.

16. Serve Instant Pot Dal Makhani hot or warm with your preferred Indian flatbreads like roti, Naan, paratha, Rumali Roti or aloo paratha for a rich luxurious meal.

You can also serve it with Jeera Rice or steamed basmati rice.

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, this rich lentil dish is topped with a generous quantity of white butter and cream before serving.

If you like or prefer, then while serving, opt to drizzle some cream or top with some butter. You can also garnish the curried lentils with coriander leaves and some ginger julienne.

Instant Pot Dal Makhani pairs well with most Indian flatbreads. I usually serve it with Roti (our comfort food) and occasionally with a naan bread or Paratha.

Sometimes I go overboard and serve it with our favorite Aloo Paratha (stuffed potato flatbreads) or another variant of potato bread, Aloo Kulcha.

It also tastes nice with Rumali Roti (thin handkerchief like flat breads) and Tandoori Roti. Both these flatbreads are my favorites.

Some folks prefer to have it with Lachha Paratha which are flaky, soft layered flatbreads.

If you love rice, pair the creamy lentils with fragrant steamed basmati rice. For some added richness, ditch the plain boring rice and instead pair with Ghee Rice or cumin rice.

Expert Tips

  1. Quality of lentils: Aged lentils and beans take a longer time to cook. In that case, pressure cook further for 10 to 15 minutes. Add ½ to 1 cup water while pressure cooking further. For best results, use fresh lentils in shelf period, which are also soaked overnight or for about 8 hours in water.
  2. 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.
  3. Ground spices: You can add less or more of the spice powders according to your taste preferences.
  4. Spice substitutions: Instead of cumin powder, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds. If you do not have red chili powder or cayenne pepper, then add 1 to 2 green chilies or serrano peppers. You can skip the turmeric powder.
  5. Optional ingredients: Dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) and cream can be skipped completely. ⅓ to ½ cup of finely chopped onions along with the spice powders and tomato puree can also be added.
  6. Consistency: In case the curry becomes too thick, add some water. Mashing some lentils while simmering (towards the end part of cooking) helps to thicken the gravy.
  7. Vegan options: In place of butter, add 2 to 3 tablespoons oil or a plant based butter. You can also omit the cream or use a plant-based one like coconut or cashew cream. With coconut cream, the flavors will alter.

More Instant Pot Recipes To Try!

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instant pot dal makhani

Instant Pot Dal Makhani

Delish and creamy Instant Pot Dal Makhani made with an actual one-pot cooking method or technique in the Instant Pot. There is no sautéing of any ingredients. Simply add the ingredients in the Instant Pot and pressure cook. An easy and quick way to make this lentil preparation.
5 from 20 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Cuisine North Indian, Punjabi
Course Main Course
Diet Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

For soaking

  • 1 cup black gram (whole urad dal with their husks), 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, 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 chopped onions – finely chopped, or 1 medium-sized, 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

  • Rinse the lentils for a couple of times before soaking.
    Soak both the kidney beans (rajma) and whole black lentils (urad dal) in enough water, overnight if you are making this in the morning.
  • 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. Drain the water again.
  • Add the rinsed lentils in the inner cooking 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 fine and smooth. Set 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 3 cups water. You can even add finely chopped ⅓ to ½ cup onions at this step. 
  • Stir and mix very well.
  • Turn on the Instant Pot. Press the pressure cooker button 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.
  • When the cooking time is completed and you hear the beep sound, wait for 10 or 12 minutes. Then do a quick pressure release (QPR) – carefully lift the pressure valve to remove the extra steam and pressure.
  • 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.
    Note that the final consistency should be smooth and creamy. Thus the whole mixture has to be simmered until the consistency thickens a bit and becomes creamy. 
  • Keep in mind 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

  • Once the lentils have softened and tender, they need to be simmered further. To do this, press the sauté button on Instant Pot and set the time to 7 or 8 minutes on normal setting.
  • Add the butter. Stir and mix to combine.
  • 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 as well as slightly thickens 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, keep in mind that the consistency will thicken more on cooling.
  • While simmering do stir often so that the lentils do not stick to the bottom of the inner 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 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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