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Wednesday, 28 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 Maa ki 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 (Dhungar method) is very easy and can definitely be tried at home if you are looking for the typical restaurant style flavour in your Dal Makhani.

Short Video for Dal Makhani

Preparation Time: 8 hours
Cooking Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 6

  • 1 Cup whole Urad (whole black Lentil)
  • 1/4 cup  Rajma (Kidney Beans)
  • 2 large Onions finely chopped / pureed 
  • 3 Tomatoes pureed
  • 1 tsp Jeera (Cumin seeds)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped or grated Ginger
  • 1 tsp finely chopped or minced Garlic
  • 2 green chilies finely chopped /optional
  • 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
  • 2 tbsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp of crushed Kasuri Methi (dried Fenugreek leaves)
  • 2 -3 tbsp of fresh Cream
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 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 dal and rajma is cooked , try to mash it with your fingers, if it is well mashed it is cooked perfectly. If not,add more water and cook the dal again for 2-3 whistles. With a wooden ladle mash the dal nicely and keep aside. 

  4.  In a deep wok or thick bottom sauce pan heat 2 tbsp of butter/ghee 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 pureed Onions and saute for 4-5 minutes or until the Onions turn translucent.

  6.  Next add tomato puree , 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 it . Mix well and around 2 cups of water to make it to your desired consistency. Add salt to this , be cautious as we have already added salt while cooking the lentils.

8.Simmer the dal for 15-20 minutes while stirring intermittently. Lastly add butter and fresh cream, give a quick stir. Garnish with kasuri methi, 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 !!!

  2. charcoal have been used since
    ages and it has lots of health benefits.
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  3. the dal makhani is my husband's favorite recipe. Not only does he patiently make it, He loves to share it too. he will be happy to try out the smoke infusion.

  4. Creamy buttery, thick, smokey....wow, love a good makhani dal. Love your idea of giving a smokey flavour. Makhani dal is a family favourite.

  5. Ho wow! sucha. rich, delicious and creamy dal makhani! Loved the smokey flavours!!! Just right for any special occasion. Love it Poonam.