Best Pakistani Dal Recipe

Despite our love for all the traditional South Asian dishes, it's always important to revert to some good old' comfort food. And what's a better example of comfort food than traditional dal? With several dal recipes, we picked an intricate dal dish. It might not exactly be the ideal light comfort food, but it is quite rich and has an amazing taste. If you didn't guess by the title already, we've brought to you *drum rolls* a 'Pakistani Dal Makhni' recipe! The star of the dish is 'Makhan,' which translates to butter. There is a high degree of butter in this dish. It also contains cream, which gives the dish an overall creamy, rich consistency. For all those people who are lactose intolerant or are on a diet, you might want to look away right now. Or you could pre-plan and consider something for your next big cheats day meal. You can follow this simple recipe to replicate some of the authentic flavors of Pakistani dal and experience delectable traditional food, freshly made in your kitchen. The recipe also includes several tips that will guide you along the way in case you may be confused in some of the steps.

The Origination Of Dal Makhni

All the nonvegetarians can't be more thankful for the invention of 'butter chicken,' and the vegetarians, on the other hand, possess similar sentiments for 'dal makhani.' Dal makhani is rumored to have been closely related to 'butter chicken.' Pakistani cuisines have a specialty of having whole black lentils with freshly made hot chappatis. The twist occurred when cream and tomatoes were mixed in the dal as a souring agent. It was new for people back then but turned out to be a staple. Thus, came about the blessing of 'dal makhani.'

Are there other existing variations of Dal Makhni?

Currently, all the variations that exist stem from an individual's preferences. However, there is no significant variation that is recognized as an innovation to the traditional Dal Makhni. You can always play around with the ingredients, and it's measurements, and you might just be the pioneer of a new dal makhani inspired dish.  

Pakistani dal recipe

  • 1 cup black lentils (see tips)
  • 2-3 tbsp red kidney beans
  • 3 tbsp butter/ clarified butter (ghee)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste/minced ginger-garlic
  • 1 cup water (or as per desired consistency)
  • 1 medium-sized onion chopped
  • 2 green chilies chopped
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes chopped (see tips)
  • ½ tsp fenugreek leaves ½ tsp
  • 2 tbsp julienne-cut ginger
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp whole spice powder (garam masala)
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 ½ tsp salt or as per taste
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves
  1. Ina deep pot of boiling water, add the black lentils and red kidney beans. Boil until tender to the touch.

  2. Drain the excess water and set aside.

  3. In a pan placed over medium heat, add the oil and butter/clarified butter, when it starts to sizzle add the cumin and fry until aromatic.

  4. Next, add the onions to the cumin and fry till it turns light gold. Be sure to not over fry the onions as there are chances for it to burn quickly and will thus bring a bitter aftertaste to your final dish.

  5. Now add garlic ginger paste/minced garlic ginger, green chilies, tomatoes, salt, red chili powder, whole spice powder (garam masala) and coriander leaves. Cook until the water left reduces to ¼. Add the kidney beans and black lentils and mix well.

  6. Mash the lentils using the back of a spoon or a masher to ensure it's mashed evenly and until all the lentils and beans have broken (see tips).

  7. Continue to add the water until you reach your desired consistency. Mash the beans and stir the dal till it is well mixed.

  8. Add the cream, ginger, fenugreek leaves, and allow dal to simmer for 2-3 minutes (see tips).

  9. Place a cube of salted butter on top along with chopped coriander and serve the dal makhani with naan or boiled rice. Enjoy!


  • You could also bring a unique twist to the dish by using a range of assorted pulses. Such as channa daal, whole mash daal, masoor ki daal, or any kind as per your preference.
  • Instead of using freshly chopped tomatoes, you may also consider using store-bought tomato puree for a smoother rich consistency. But consider cooking the dal for a lesser period considering the puree already has it's water drained.
  • While mashing the lentils and beans, you could also use a hand blender to speed up the process and ensure a fine mash.
  • If you wish for your dal makhani to be a bit chunky, do not finely mash the lentils.
  • Instead just mash it a few times and continue with the recipe as per the instructions.
  • Be careful while you add the cream.
  • Only add it at the last stage of the process, and do not over mix the dal as the cream may curdle and split.
  • Cook the dal on a low simmer, some recommend leaving it on a simmer for half an hour or 1 hour at max to bring out the flavors.
  • Add a pinch of sugar - ½ tsp of sugar to balance the spices and bring depth within the flavors.
  • Add a smokey flavor to the dal by placing coal over a piece of aluminum foil.
  • Place this over the dal and drop a bit of oil over the coal to emit smoke from it. Secure and close the pan with its lid for 2-3 minutes and then remove the coal along with the piece of foil.

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