Smoky Dal Makhni/Smoked Dal Makhni Recipe/ Dhungar Vali Mah Rajma Dal




Dals or lentils are staples in India and are eaten on a daily basis along with seasonal vegetables. To be very honest, that our thalies are incomplete without these legumes. This is because a variety of dals are produced across the whole extent of our country. interestingly, each dal is prepared with its own variation in different state here. If we talk about whole urad dal or sabut urad, it is used in dosa or idli batter in the Southern regions. Whereas as we move towards the North like Delhi, Haryana, Himachal and Punjab, this dal is cooked and relished as everyone’s’ favourite (दाल मखनी) Dal Makhani or Mah Rajma.


Years ago and even today in rural Haryana and Punjab this dal is cooked overnight in clay pots on mud stoves or ovens (angithi/chulah). Dal makhni is a combination of sabut urad and rajma/kidney beans. These lentils are allowed to cook on a very slow heat of coals absorbing the flavours of both clay and coal. The overnight cooking used to extract all the juices and flavours from this dal. In the morning a very desi or rustic tadka of ghee and some aromatics was given. A dollop of homemade white butter made it complete with heavenly tastes. You could feel its earthy and smoky flavours easily



Gone are those days but I still miss that way of cooking dal makhani by my grandmas. Clay ovens are not easily available now, so I cook this dal in a pressure cooker at the very low flame on the gas burner. For the smoky effect, I burn a charcoal piece कोयला, placing it in a bowl to pour some ghee on it. The smoke rises and I place this bowl inside the pan so that the dal gets infused with a wonderful smoky flavour. For the creamy texture, I add fresh cream or white butter to the cooked dal to get its famous मक्खनी texture

Prep time – 4 hrs(prep time requires soaking of dal)
Cook time – 60 minutes at low flame(cooking+tempering+smoking time)
Cuisine – Punjab/Haryana/Delhi/Himachal
Course – Main
Serves – 4

Ingredients For Mah Rajma (माह राजमा)

• Sabut/whole/ black Urad Dal – 1 cup/150 gms
• Rajma/kidney beans – 1/2 cup / 70 gms
• Water – 5 cups – 1 lt + (more water may be needed later)
• Salt – 2 tsp or to taste
• Turmeric powder/ haldi powder – 1 tsp
• Slitted and deseeded green chilly – 1-2

Ingredients For Tempering/ Tadka/ तड़का

• Ghee – 2 tbsp
• Finely chopped onions – 1 big sized
• Tomato puree – 1 cup/100 gms (3-4 tomatoes blended into puree)
• Finely chopped ginger – 1 tsp
• Finely chopped garlic – 1 tsp
• Finely chopped green chillies – 1 tsp
• Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
• Asafoetida/heeng powder – 1 tsp
• Red chilly powder – 1 tsp
• Coriander powder – 2 tsp
• Garam masala – 2 tsp
• Fresh coriander leaves – 1 tbsp
• Fresh cream – 1 tbsp + 1 tsp for garnish

Ingredients For Smoke/dhungar

• Charcoal (कोयला)- 1 small piece
• Ghee – 1 tsp
• Cloves/laung – 2-3

Step By Step

1- Rinse urad dal and rajma/ kidney beans 2 times and soak for 4-5 hrs or overnight

2- Take a pressure cooker and add soaked dal, water, salt, green chillies and turmeric powder. Close the cooker with the lid and keep for boiling at high flame first

3- After 1 whistle, bring down the flame to low and let the dal simmer for 30-35 minutes. Switch off the flame and allow the cooker to cool down completely. When you open the lid, you will notice that dal has not mixed well yet ( अभी एकसार नहीं हुई)

4- If you find that there is a need to add more water, add 1-2 cups of hot water and keep on flame again without the lid for 10-15 minutes at very low flame. Let the dal boil, mashing a little with the back of the ladle. This will help to incorporate dal well.

5- Add 1 tbsp fresh cream and mix. The cream will give dal a creamy consistency

  • Sabut urad dal thickens fast so there is always an absolute need to add more water

Tempering/Tadka/ तड़का

1- Heat ghee in a tadka pan and add heeng/asafoetida. Next, add cumin/ jeera.

2- When jeera crackles add ginger, garlic and green chillies. Saute for few seconds and add chopped onions. Saute onions until they change the colour

3- Add all the powdered spices and stir. Roast/ bhunow/ भूनो the spices for a while

4- Add tomato puree now

5- Cook/ bhunow/ भूनो this masala until leaves ghee from the side of pan

6- Now, Add the cooked dal to this tadka /तड़का

7- Mix well to incorporate everything

Smoking The Dal/ To give a smoky effect to dal

1- Burn a small piece of charcoal/ कोयला on the gas burner for 5 minutes with the help of a tong

2- Keep this hot piece of coal and cloves/laung /लौंग in a steel bowl/Katori. Adjust this bowl in the dal vessel. Drop 1 tsp ghee over hot coal.

3- As the smoke rises, Cover the dal vessel with a lid for 5 minutes Dal will absorb the smoky flavour making it extraordinary tasty

4- Garnish Dal Makhni with fresh coriander and fresh cream. Serve it hot with Choor-Choor Lachha Parantha or Tawa Naan

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