I'm not alone in my love for Dal Makhani, often voted most popular dal across the world. It's not difficult to see why. It's a supremely luxurious lentil dal that has the most amazing texture and taste. Rich, creamy and buttery. If you've ever made this in the conventional way you'd know that good things come to those who wait, and Dal Makhani makes you wait 4-6 hours on average! But what if you could enjoy exactly the same delicious dal and cut the cooking time to just over an hour?
Dal Makhani in 1/4 the time.
It's no secret that the Instant Pot can revolutionise 'slow cooking' into 'super-fast cooking' but when it comes to this dal recipe it's a revelation. Making makhani dal in the traditional, stove-top way really is a lot of waiting, and worth it, for sure - but speeding up the whole process into a manageable 1 1/4 hours from start to end is nothing short of a miracle, right!
For the same restaurant style makhani dal, a butter-laden, creamy dish with a depth of flavour and texture unlike other dal in just over an hour is a win win situation! So how does it work? Read on to find out...
One pot wonder
Traditionally, with dal makhani there's a lot of faffery like soaking, waiting, cooking, waiting, adding ingredient a, waiting, adding ingredient b, waiting (you get the picture). My recipe cuts out all that for 2 simple stages. Cooking and finishing.
Stage 1: Cooking. No soaking required!
Normally, recipes call for soaking the dal (Makhani uses whole Urad dal/black dal - and everyone ever says you need to soak it first), but when cooking in the Instant Pot, soaking really isn't necessary - truly! It makes no difference. Now this goes against YEARS of advice I've been given, but the proof is in the finished dish. You really don't need to soak the lentils. This has changed my life!
My recipe is as simple as putting all the makhani dal ingredients into the pot, closing the lid and cooking at high-pressure for 1 hour. Boom!
Stage 2: Finishing. Stir in the magic.
The key to any good Makhani Dal is the butter and cream. For the authentic taste, you might be alarmed at how much butter goes in... I know I was, but to capture the full decadence it's necessary. The second stage is as simple as stirring in the butter and cream, setting the Instant Pot to 'sauté' and reducing the dal for 10 minutes. This will create the super-creamy texture Dal Makhani is known for.
That. Is. It.
Nothing is lost in flavour or texture and you've gained 4 hours of your life back! This normally gives me plenty of time to watch TV and/or cook a couple of other curries at the same time - dishes that will work well with Dal Makhani. I like to keep it in the same vein of winter, warming style curries like Bhuna Gosht, Beef Balti, Chicken Mughlai or Rajasthani Laal Maas - that way I can have a little of each for a full-on luxurious curry spread, fill the freezer with the leftovers and then have a lie down.
So in essence, this dish is the legit, authentic flavour of Dal Makhani, without all the hanging around for it to cook.
Add the dal, garlic, ginger, chilli powder, paprika, garam masala, vegetable oil, salt and tomato to the Instant Pot. Stir in 6 cups of water then put on the lid to seal.Cook on 'High Pressure' for 1 hour.
Release the steam, then remove lid and stir well. The dal will be cooked and the sauce a little creamy.Stir in all the butter and cream, the turn on the 'Sauté' feature and cook the sauce for a further 10-15 minutes to reduce the sauce into a thick, creamy texture. Be sure to stir regularly to avoid sticking.Turn off the pot, check for seasoning - it will most likely need more salt.