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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Dal Makhani infused with a charcoal smokey Flavour / Punjabi Cuisine

Dal Makhani (Buttery lentil ) is a very famous Punjabi delicacy and the finest dal recipes of India. It is a spicy and rich dish made with a combination of whole black lentil(Urad ) and red Kidney Beans (Rajma) and is popularly known as Maal di daal in Punjab. It is cooked with lots of Butter (Makhan) and Fresh cream (Malai) which gives a smooth velvety texture and lovely flavor to the dish.The Dal Makhani goes well with any Indian flat bread like Chapati ,Naan ,Paratha or with Jeera Rice.

Whenever we go out to dine in an Indian restaurant , Dal makhani is surely on our menu! Traditionally the dal is allowed to cook overnight on a low flame to thicken . Now a days in a fast life we hardly get time and have patience for this. But yes this preparation needs some patience and the flavors come out well if the dal is allowed to simmer for a longer time. So i prefer cooking this Dal Makhani on special occasions and when i have enough time for cooking .

 I have cooked the overnight soaked Urad and Rajma in a pressure cooker for 6-7 whistles along with whole spices . Cooking the dal in this way allows the whole spices to impart their flavors more into the dal. This time i simmered the dal for a longer time than i usually do and tried imparting a charcoal smokey flavor to my Dal Makhani and the taste and fragrance was simply awesome. Infusing the Dal Makhani with wood charcoal smoke is very easy and can definitely be tried at home if you are looking for the typical restaurant style flavour in your Dal Makhani.

  • 3/4 Cup whole Urad (whole black Lentil)
  • 3 tbsp  Rajma (Kidney Beans)
  • 1 large Onion finely chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Jeera (Cumin seeds)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped or grated Ginger
  • 1 tsp finely chopped or minced Garlic
  • 2 green chilies finely chopped
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 1 Black Cardamom
  • 1 small stick of Cinnamon
  • 2-3 black Pepper corns
  • 2-3 Cloves
  • 1 tsp Coriander Cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp red Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp of crushed Kasuri Methi(dried Fenu Greek leaves)
  • 2 -3 tbsp of fresh Cream
  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
  • 2-3 Ginger julienne to garnish
  • Salt to taste
For imparting Smokey flavor: 
  • 1 small piece of wood charcoal
  • 1 tsp Ghee
  1. Clean , wash and soak the whole Urad and Rajma overnight in enough water.

    2.  Drain and place the soaked lentils with 2 1/2 cups of water in a pressure cooker , add salt and whole spices (Bay leaf , clove , black Cardamom , Cinnamon and black Pepper corns) and pressure cook for 6 -7 whistles or until the dals are thoroughly cooked.

   3.  Let the pressure cooker cool down before opening the lid. To test whether the dals are cooked , try to mash it with your fingers..if it is well mashed the dals are nicely cooked. If not cooked ,add more water and cook the dal again for 2-3 whistles. With a wooden ladle mash the dal nicely and keep aside. Take 2-3 tbsp of this cooked lentils and pulse them in a grinder with 2-3 tbsp of water to a smooth paste.(this last step of grinding is optional , but i feel it gives nice creamy texture to the Dal Makhani)

  4.  In a deep wok or thick bottom sauce pan heat 2 tbsp of butter on a low heat and add the cumin seeds. Once they crackle add the finely chopped garlic and ginger and saute till the raw smell goes.

  5 . Now add in the finely chopped green chilies followed by chopped Onions and saute for 1-2 minutes or until the Onions turn translucent.

  6.  Next add the finely chopped Tomatoes , saute for a while , add Turmeric powder , red Chili powder , Cumin Coriander powder and cook for 2-3 minutes on medium flame.

    7.  Add in the cooked and mashed lentils into this and also the paste of dal . Mix well and add little water to make it to your desired consistency(i have added 1/4 cup water). Add salt to this , be cautious as we have already added salt while cooking the lentils.

   8. Simmer the dal for 7-10 minutes, then add remaining 1 tsp butter and fresh Cream. Give it a quick stir, lastly add the crushed Kasuri Methi and cook for another 1 minute and put off the flame.

    9. Now for imparting the Dal Makhani with a Charcoal smokey flavour , i have followed the Dhungar method which is a very easy technique for smoking food . Have used small piece of natural charcoal lump for this. All you have to do is , place the piece of natural charcoal directly on top of a gas burner. With the heat on full , burn the charcoal directly over the flames. You can turn the Charcoal using long tongs to make sure flame reach all sides of the Charcoal.

   10. Put off the flame, place a small bowl or small plate over the Dal Makhani and with the help of tongs place this coal piece on it. Immediately pour 1 tsp of ghee or butter over this hot coal piece. The coal will immediately start emitting dense white smoke, cover the sauce pan with a lid. The smoke trapped inside will infuse a unique smokey flavor into the Dal Makhani. If you are using this technique for the first time , try smoking the food only for a minute or so. I generally smoke the Dal Makhani for about 5 minutes . After 5 minutes, open the lid and remove the bowl of coal.

  11. Garnish the Dal Makhani with fresh chopped Coriander, Ginger julienne and fresh Cream. Serve hot with Chapati , Naan or any Rice dish.

  For more dishes from Punjabi Cuisine and Rich Gravy dishes, do check my posts on Paneer Makhanwala , Kashmiri Dum Aloo , Kadai Paneer , Pindi chole.


  1. Made Dal Makhni for the first time. It was the best I've ever eaten. Thank you for tgis beautiful recipe Poonam :-* Jayanthi

    1. Thank You Jayanathi for stopping by my space to drop such a positive feed back. Glad that you liked it. Happy Cooking !!!

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