Dal Makhni: A Staple Dish from Punjab

One Punjabi food that I had always wanted to indulge in was Dal Makhni. I was introduced to this rich dish at a roadside dhaba (food joint). Hardly a few weeks after we shifted to Gurgaon (Haryana), my hubby decided to hit the road to Jaipur. The journey was heavenly. Mid-way, our hunger pangs reminded us to halt somewhere for food!  After almost half-an-hour’s drive, all we found was a dhaba (mini food joint), tucked in the square booths of a shed.

Well, it surely wasn’t a swanky ambience to placate our aesthetic sense and definitely no well-dressed men to greet us in. Instead, all we heard were shouts for ordering food, a little boy to clean those rickety tables and surprisingly, groups of people waiting to be served or get their khana (food) packed. At least, this one point assured us that we were at the right place for food. Amidst the blaring sound of the Bhangra music, our young maitre d’ rattled off the menu without even pausing for breath. Within a few minutes we were served the best Dal Makhni (till date that I have ever tasted). It didn’t take very long for us to lick our platters clean. I couldn’t help but meet the hand that prepared this dish. A typical village woman clad in a saree with the ghoonghat (showing respect by covering the head with a part of the saree) welcomed me into the small cooking area. She was so thrilled with my heartfelt compliments and willingly shared the recipe for the authentic Dal Makhni, which she explained, has been handed down to them from generations. I now share this authentic Dal Makhni, which is also called Maa ki Dal or Maah ki Dal. This is the traditional name of the dish in Punjab were they refer the sabut urad dal (whole unskinned black gram lentil) as Maah, and hence the name Maa ki dal.


Dal Makhni

Time taken: 45 min

Taste-o-meter: Spicy



  • Whole black gram lentils (sabut urad dal): 1/2 cup
  • Red kidney beans (rajma):  1/8 cup
  • Bengal gram (channa dal):  1/8 cup
  • Ginger:  1 tsp
  • Garlic (minced):  2 cloves
  • Green chillies:  2-3 (or as per taste)
  • Salt as per taste
  • Turmeric powder:  1/2 tsp

Ingredients for seasoning:

  • Ghee: 4 tbsp
  • Garlic (minced): 2 cloves
  • Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek (methi) seeds: 1/8 tsp
  • Asafoetida (hing): a pinch
  • Onion (finely chopped): 1/2 
  • Tomato: 1 (pureed)
  • Chilli powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1 tsp

To garnish:

  • Cream: 1/3 cup
  • Butter: 1 tbsp


  • Soak the black gram lentils, rajma and channa dal in water overnight.
  • Boil or pressure cook the soaked lentils together along with ginger, garlic, green chillies, salt and turmeric powder until soft (It takes about 15-20 min.).
  • For seasoning, heat the ghee in a pan and add cumin and methi seeds. When they start to crackle, add garlic and fry until light brown (do not burn the garlic).
  • Add the onion and asafoetida and sauté  until the onions become golden brown in colour.
  • Add the tomato puree, chilli powder, turmeric and garam masala powder and mix everything well.
  • Cook for another 3-4 min and add little water, if needed.
  • Add the cooked dal in the seasoning along with cream and butter. Mix and let it come to boil and then turn off the gas.
  • Serve this dal hot with rice and curd.


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