Pressure Cook

Madhur Jaffrey's Instant Pot Buttery Dal

May 30, 2019
4 Ratings
Photo by Dana Gallagher
  • Prep time 8 hours
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

The Indian state of Punjab is known for the dairy that is consumed in generous amounts by its farming population. (Perhaps you will not be surprised to learn that today it is immigrant Punjabi farmers who care for the cows that produce the milk for Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese around the city of Parma in Italy.) More than half of Punjabi farmers are vegetarian and seem to thrive on local yogurt, cheese (paneer), lassis, and butter.

This dal is made with a mixture of red kidney beans—an early import from the Americas—and an ancient Indian bean known as whole urad or ma. The dish is called Dal Makkhani, or Buttery Dal, because of all the white butter that is used to enrich it. You can use as much “enrichment” as you choose.

It is traditionally served with Indian flatbreads—naans, chapatis, tandoori rotis, and parathas. Whole-wheat pita bread works well too. An onion and tomato salad plus a vegetable dish served on the side would complete the meal.

Excerpted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Instantly Indian Cookbook © 2019 by Madhur Jaffrey. Reproduced by permission of Knopf. All rights reserved.Food52

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: How Madhur Jaffrey Changed Indian Home Cooking in the West. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup whole urad with skin (also called sabut ma)
  • 1/2 cup dried red kidney beans (called rajma in Indian stores)
  • Salt
  • 4 teaspoons peeled fresh ginger grated to a pulp
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 cup pureed or strained tomatoes or passata
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil or ghee
  • About 6 very thin rounds of onions, halved

  • 1/4 teaspoon bright red paprika mixed with 1⁄4 teaspoon chili powder
  1. Wash the beans and soak them overnight in water that covers them generously. Drain them the following day.
  2. Put the beans in the Instant Pot. Add 1 teaspoon salt, the ginger, garlic, tomatoes, chili powder, and 4 cups water. Close and seal the lid, then cook on HIGH PRESSURE for 30 minutes, before letting the pressure drop by itself. Hit CANCEL to reset the cooking program. Open the lid carefully, venting the steam away from you. Stir the dal. Using a potato masher, crush the dal as much as you can. Taste, adding another 1/2 teaspoon salt as needed.
  3. Select the SAUTÉ setting and set to Normal. Stir in the 1 tablespoon butter, cream, and garam masala. When the dal is heated through, you may put it in a serving dish and add another dollop of butter on top, or you may use the tarka (see below).
  4. Tarka: Put the oil or ghee in a small frying 
pan over medium heat. When hot, arrange 
the onions in a single layer. Stir and fry them, turning now and then, until they turn reddish gold and crisp. Sprinkle the paprika mixture
 over the top and quickly pour all the contents of the pan over the beans, spreading it out over the surface. Cover with a towel or extra lid to trap the aromas.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Bryonna
  • KB
  • Virginia

4 Reviews

Virginia February 2, 2020
Very easy and delicious
Virginia February 2, 2020
Delicious! I only soaked the beans for an hour, substituted chicken peas for the kidney beans (since that’s what I had in the pantry), and substituted a little yogurt mixed with milk for the heavy cream (since I didn’t have any). This is a terrific dish that is flexible enough to work with what’s in the fridge/pantry (although it won’t be so authentic).
Bryonna August 20, 2019

any suggestions for a replacement ? (1 cup whole urad with skin (also called sabut ma)) I can't get these here
KB December 20, 2019
It is whole, black urad dal (also called Black Gram). You could substitute with regular, husked white urad dal or even the split urad dal; but you cannot get the same earthy flavor. You could get it easily in any Indian grocery store or in the Indian/Asian foods aisle of well-stocked supermarkets like Whole Foods Market. If you could not get any kind of urad dal, you could use any kind of lentil that is available; just the cooking time will vary.