Mamta's Kitchen

Butter Dal Makhani - 1 (Kidney Beans & Black Gram)

Dal Makhani - 1

Mamta Gupta

Dal Makhani or Butter Dal is is a mix of whole Urad and Kidney beans. It is generally cooked on special occasions, family gatherings and weddings. It takes longer to cook than the 'split' dals, but the result is worth it. Traditionally, fresh white butter was added before serving, hence the name Butter dal. These days, double cream or 'malai' is added before serving. This type of butter is more difficult to find in the West.Black Gram cooked alone, it is called Mah ki Dal. Serves 4-6

Edited June 2018


  • 1 cup or 150 gm. whole, urad/urd/urid or black gram lentil

  • 2-3 tbsp. or 1/3 cup kidney beans

  • 4-5 cups water

  • 1 tbsp. coarsely grated ginger

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed/grated (optional)

  • 2 tsp. coarsely ground fennel seeds

  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder

  • For tarka or tempering:

  • 3-4 tbsp. ghee or clarified butter or oil

  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds

  • A large pinch of asafoetida powder

  • 3 red, dry chillies, broken roughly

  • 1/2 inch piece ginger

  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated (optional)

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt, adjust to taste

  • 1 tsp. chilli powder or to taste

  • 1/2 tsp. Garam Masala

  • 2-3 tbsp. thick, natural yoghurt (optional) or double cream. Tinned cream will do if fresh is not available. Traditionally, fresh white butter was used, hence the name Butter dal. This type of butter is more difficult to find in the West.

  • 2 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves


  1. Wash and soak both dals together for 3-4 hours. Soaking for longer, say overnight, is even better because it reduces cooking time.

  2. Place water, washed and drained dal, half of grated ginger, ground fennel and turmeric powder in a pressure cooker and cook under full pressure for 6-8 whistles/for 20-25 minutes. Without prior soaking, this dal takes longer to cook and has more possibility of causing flatulence.

  3. Allow pressure cooker to cool and then check whether the dal is cooked soft. This may take different times with different quality of dals, the softness of water etc. If necessary, cook the dal for another 3-4 whistles.

  4. Add salt, taste and adjust amount.

  5. Tarka or Tempering:

  6. Heat ghee in a frying pan or wok.

  7. Add cumin seeds and hing/asafoetida, allow seeds to splutter/crackle.

  8. Add whole red chillies (broken ones), ginger and garlic and fry for 30-40 seconds.

  9. Add onions and fry until light brown.

  10. Add chopped tomatoes chilli powder & garam masala, stir-fry until ghee separates.

  11. Add to the cooked dal and simmer dal for a further 5-6 minutes.

  12. Turn heat off.

  13. For serving;

  14. Add 3/4 of the cream and half the coriander leaves and stir.

  15. Just before serving, garnish with remaining coriander leaves and a whirl of cream on top.

  16. Serve with hot Chapatti and Boiled Rice.

  17. Also see Dal Selection.


  • Traditionally this dal was cooked slowly for hours on charcoal fire. This gave it a creamier texture. You can make it in slow cooker but make sure that you boil it briskly in a pan for last 10 minutes. This is to neutralise the toxins in Kidney beans or Rajma. In a traditional Punjabi house, it has a lot of ‘malai’ (thick skin that forms on top of boiled full cream milk)) or fresh butter added to it. These days, people generally add thick yoghurt or double cream to it.

  • Healthy option:

  • Omit cream.

  • Use olive oil instead of ghee or butter.

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