This is one of the most popular Punjabi dal – Dal Makhani. Interestingly this is very similar to the Madras Lentils you might have tasted at Costco. Most people order this dal when in an Indian restaurant. So here it is – Dal Makhani in Instant Pot. Black gram lentils and red kidney beans prepared with onion, tomatoes, lots of ginger, garlic and butter. Dal Makhani goes really well with basmati rice and naan. To make this a quick meal, I cooked pot-in-pot Brown Rice along with the dal.
As the name suggests, this dal is prepared with butter…makhani. So let loose and add on the butter when preparing this dal. However skip the butter and add oil to make this dish vegan. This was my favorite dal when growing up and it still is. Usually this dal is slow cooked, which can take hours, however here I have used the pressure cooker to prepare it in 50 minutes, most of which is passive time.
How to make Dal Makhani in Instant Pot?
I use black gram lentils (sabut urad) and red kidney beans (rajma) for this recipe. Start with soaking the lentils and beans in ample water for 4 hours or overnight. The soaking is mainly required for the kidney beans, but I find it easier to just soak them together. We will use the basic pantry ingredients in this Dal Makhani. The only 4 fresh things required are – onion, tomato, ginger and garlic.
When you are ready to cook, start with sautéing butter, cumin seeds and carom seeds in the Instant Pot. Then add onions and sauté for a few minutes until they start turning golden. Then add the tomatoes and spices. That is all the active work required for this recipe. Now just stir in the lentils and water, and set to pressure cook.
After the pressure cooking is done, Dal Makhani should be ready. If needed, add water to get the desired consistency. I like to stir in some lemon juice and garnish with cilantro. You can top with more butter to enhance the taste (and calories).
My mom likes to get the perfect reddish color similar to restaurant style dal makhani. Here is the trick I learnt from her to get that perfect reddish color – Soak 2-3 Kashmiri red chilis for half hour. Then grind them to a paste with some water and add when you add the tomatoes. You will love the color and the added taste from the kashmiri chili. I do this in my Pav Bhaji recipe too. Kashmiri chili’s are very mild, so they will not make the dal too spicy. Do skip the chili powder in the recipe if you go this route.
How to make Madras Lentils in Instant Pot?
I could not find much history for the name Madras Lentils. However Tasty Bite brand, available at Costco and other major grocery chains, has certainly made this a popular dish. Let’s see the differences between Dal Makhani and Madras lentils.
- The ingredients listed on the Tasty Bite Madras Lentils pack are – Water, Tomato, Lentils, Red Beans, Onions, Cream, Butter, Salt, Oil, Chillies, Cumin.
- My understanding is that they use adzuki beans (chori in hindi) in place of black gram lentils.
- The spices used are much lesser, only cumin and chili. So it is milder than Dal Makhani.
- Typically I don’t add any cream when making Dal Makhani at home. Cream is added in Madras Lentils.
Other than that, I really don’t see any differences. So you can follow the same recipe below with adzuki beans and just adjust the spices to make the popular Madras Lentils.
Dal Makhani with Pot-in-Pot Brown Rice
One of the big advantages of the Instant Pot is – the option to do Pot-in-Pot Cooking or PIP. This means being able to cook multiple things at a time, by also cooking in a small pot inside the main pot. To do pot-in-pot cooking, you need a tall trivet and stainless steel containers that you can use within the main pot. Here are the one’s I use:
Another important thing with pot-in-pot cooking is to consider the cooking time for the dishes you want to cook together. As an example, Dal Makhani takes about 30 mins to cook at high pressure and brown rice takes about 22-25 mins at high pressure. Hence if I add rice pot-in-pot with beans, they would get cooked well. I would not cook white rice along with Dal Makhani, however they would work well with split yellow lentils that cook in 5-6 mins at high pressure.
Once you add all ingredients for Dal in the instant pot, place the trivet and then the bowl of brown rice with water. This way they will both cook together. Enjoy the meal!
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Instant Pot Dal Makhani / Madras Lentils with Brown Rice Recipe
- 1 cup Black gram lentils (Sabut Urad Dal) rinsed and soaked for 4 hours or overnight
- 1/4 cup Red Kidney Beans (Rajma)
- 1 tbsp Butter or Oil
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds (Jeera)
- 1 tbsp Ginger minced
- 1 tbsp Garlic minced
- 1 Onion medium, diced
- 2 Tomato medium, diced
- 3 cup Water for cooking
- 1 tbsp Lemon juice (optional)
- Cilantro to garnish
- Rinse and soak lentils and beans in water for 4 hours or overnight.
- Start the pressure cooker in saute mode and let it heat. Add oil and cumin seeds.
- When the cumin seeds change color, add onions, ginger and garlic. Sauté for about 3 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and spices. Stir and saute for another 2 minutes.
- Drain the water from the soaked lentils and beans. Add them to the instant pot. Add water and mix the ingredients.
- (optional) In a steel bowl, add the ingredients for brown rice. Please a tall trivet and the bowl of rice on top of the trivet.
- Press cancel and close the lid with vent in sealing position. Change the instant pot setting to bean/chili, which will set the timer to 30 minutes of high pressure cooking.
- When the instant pot beeps, do a natural pressure release. Open the lid.
- (optional) Using tongs, carefully take out the bowl of basmati rice. Then take out the trivet.
- Stir the dal well. If needed, add water to get the desired consistency. If you like, add more garam masala to taste.
- Stir in the lemon juice and garnish with cilantro. Dal Makhani is ready to be served.
- To make this recipe vegan, just skip the butter and replace with oil of your liking.
- You can also add cream or coconut cream to make this dal richer. I did not add any and it was finger licking tasty even without any cream 🙂
- Mom's tips to get the perfect reddish color similar to restaurant style dal makhani – Soak 2-3 Kashmiri red chilis for half hour. Then grind them to a paste with some water and add when you add the tomatoes. Kashmiri chili’s are very mild, so they will not make the dal too spicy. Do skip the chili powder in the recipe if you go this route.
- This recipe was created in a 6qt Instant Pot DUO60 Multi-use Pressure Cooker and has been updated to make it easier.
Note: Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.
Note: Nutrition for Dal Makhani only, does not include Basmati Rice. Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.
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