Dal Makhani Recipe | Madras Lentils

6 Min Read

North Indian comfort food, Dal Makhani is a lightly spiced creamy lentil dish that is cooked to perfection with warm spices such as garam masala and turmeric. Traditionally slow-cooked for hours, this easy, hands-off Instant Pot Dal Makhani recipe delivers authentic flavor and creamy texture in less than an hour! The best part is that you can also cook brown rice at the same time using pot in pot method.

Dal Makhani or Makhni is a North Indian(Punjabi) dish made by slow-cooking whole black urad dal (black gram beans) and rajma (red kidney beans) for hours with butter, onion, tomatoes, ginger garlic paste, and spices.

This restaurant-favorite dish is easy to make at home, especially in the Instant Pot which uses this mostly hands-free recipe that is cooked in just 50 minutes. A protein-packed, gluten-free, and vegetarian meal that the whole family will enjoy.

Are you looking for more plant-based protein options? Try the easy and delicious Whole Masoor Dal, Green Moong Dal, Rajma Masala, Lobia Curry, and Misal recipes.


  • Whole Urad Dal & Rajma – Traditionally, the black gram beans and red kidney beans are soaked overnight, reducing the overall pressure cooking time. You can cook them unsoaked, by simply increasing the cooking time to 60 minutes and adding an extra cup of water.
  • Veggies – Onion, tomatoes, ginger, and garlic paste
  • Spices – cumin seeds, turmeric, red chili powder, and garam masala
  • Garnish – Heavy cream, cilantro, and dried fenugreek leaves

How to make Daal Makhani in Instant Pot

  • Rinse and soak black gram beans (whole urad) and red kidney beans (rajma) in 3 cups of water for 6 hours or overnight.
  • Set Instant Pot to Sauté mode and heat oil. Add cumin seeds and onions and mix well.
  • Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, red chili powder, salt, tomatoes, and beans (photos 1 – 2).
  • Add 2 cups of water and give a quick stir.
  • For optional pot-in-pot brown rice, place a tall trivet over the beans. Add rice, 2 cups of water, and salt to a stainless steel container. Place the rice container on the trivet (photos 3 – 4)
  • Close the Instant Pot with the pressure valve to sealing. Pressure Cook for 30 minutes followed by Natural Pressure Release. Open the Instant Pot and set it to sauté mode.
  • Carefully take out the rice bowl and the trivet. Mash the beans with the back of a spoon for a creamy texture. Stir in cream, garam masala, and garnish with cilantro. (photos 5 – 6)


Serve the Dal Makhani with brown rice with a side of beet raita or cucumber salad. If you are gluten-free, you can also pair it with Jowar Roti, Bajra Roti, or Chilla. In India, the restaurant-style Dal makhani is often served with Roti or Parathas, and Jeera rice.


Any leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days making it perfect for meal prep. This is also a great make-ahead recipe as the flavors continue to develop over time. I often cook Dal Makhani the night before especially when I have to serve it for a party or get-together.

You can also freeze Dal makhani – I would recommend leaving out the cream and adding it just before serving.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Don’t have time to soak the beans? – Add an extra one cup of water and pressure cook for 60 minutes
  • Stove Top Recipe – Pressure cook for 45 minutes on medium heat and allow the pressure to release naturally
  • Vegan Dal Makhani  – Use coconut cream or homemade cashew cream
  • Diced tomatoes can be substituted with store-bought tomato puree

What are Madras Lentils

Have you tried Costco’s “Tasty Bites Madras Lentils“? They are similar to the North Indian Dal Makhani except lighter on spices. And if you are curious, here are the ingredients on the package – water, tomatoes, lentils(adzuki beans or “chori” in hindi), onions, red kidney beans, cream, butter, oil, salt, ginger, cumin, and chilies.

Difference between Madras Lentils and Dal Makhani

So here is the basic difference between Madras Lentils and my Dal Makhani recipe:

  • Whole black gram beans are used to make Dal Makhani, while the Costco Madras Lentils have adzuki beans
  • Dal Makhani also has garlic, cumin powder, coriander powder, and garam masala.

How to make Madras Lentils in Instant Pot?

Madras lentils are simply a less spicy version of Dal Makhani. So if you are trying to make Madras Lentils at home you can follow this same recipe with the following modifications:

  • Use Adzuki beans instead of black gram beans
  • Skip garlic and garam masala
  • Add some butter along with cream at the end

How to Make Dal Makhani on a Stove Top Pressure Cooker?

  • Use soaked beans and follow the same steps as the Instant Pot recipe.
  • Pressure cook for 45 minutes on medium heat.
  • Allow the pressure to release naturally.

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