Instant Pot Vegan Dal Makhani is the healthier, vegan, and gluten-free version of the traditional Dal Makhani. This vegan Dal Makhani uses black lentils, red kidney beans to make a creamy rich lentil curry. An easy one pot Dal, this pairs well with Jeera rice or Parathas.
Two words that come to my mind, the moment when someone mentions Dal Makhani are “rich and buttery”
Dal in Hindi means lentils and Makhani in Hindi translates to buttery or butter. Traditionally, this is a rich and creamy lentil curry made using a combination of red kidney beans and whole black gram. They slow cook this for hours until the lentils are buttery soft and creamy.
But… but…but.. while we do love the butter and the slow-cooked version, neither is practical for today’s lifestyle. This vegan Dal Makhani is something we have come to love. Over the years, we have taught our palates that butter is not always delicious, at least, not to our waistlines. I used to cook this healthier Dal Makhani in my pressure cooker.
The Instant pot changed all that. It is a breeze to make this curry using an Instant Pot. In this post, I will be sharing how to make the creamiest Dal Makhani sans all the butter and the stirring.
Before I launch myself full throttle into the recipe, let me share a few more things.
Black gram vs Beluga lentils
Dal Makhani uses black gram. We call this sabut urad dal in Hindi, Karuppu Muzhu Ulundhu in Tamil and Minnapappu in Telugu. Black gram and black lentils are used interchangeably . However,black gram is just that- gram. They are not lentils. The whole black gram lentils are called Ulutham Paruppu in Tamil and Urad Dal in Hindi.
These grams are called Vigna Mungo and they are not the same as Beluga lentils. Beluga lentils got their name because they resemble Beluga caviar.
This is a very straightforward recipe made with gluten free ingredients. We will be cooking the black gram and kidney beans in a basic onion-tomato curry base using some ground spices and whole spices.
Whole black gram/ whole black urad– This is the star ingredient. There are many variations of Dal Makhani out there. Some of them call for using equal quantities of black gram and canned beans. But personally, we love it when the black gram is more in quantity.
Kidney beans– I have used red kidney beans. You can also use canned kidney beans. If you are using canned kidney beans, drain them and wash them well. There is no need to soak them. Instead, just add them along with the soaked black gram while cooking.
Ginger and garlic- I usually go for my store-bought ginger garlic paste to make any Dal. But for this recipe, I like using freshly chopped ginger and garlic. You can also use ginger-garlic paste instead. Substitute the ginger and garlic in this recipe with 1.5 teaspoon ginger garlic paste.
Dried fenugreek leaves– Known as Kasuri Methi in Hindi, this imparts a heavenly flavor to any dish in an instant. In our house, we love this herb so much that we even add a sprinkle to our other Dals. I highly recommend adding this to Dal Makhani. However, if you are unable to source it, feel free to give it a miss.
Other spices and ground spices– We will also be using Garam Masala, cumin seeds, bay leaf and paprika for making this dish.
Ways to make Vegan Dal Makhani
There are so many ways to achieve that buttery taste without adding any butter. In my recipe, I have used just 1 tablespoon full-fat coconut milk for garnish. You can also use coconut cream, cashew cream, any nut milk of your choice, or just skip this step.
To cook Dal Makhani today, I have used canola oil. You can also use avocado oil or any neutral-flavored vegetable oil.
Making ahead, freezing leftovers and shelf life
Because this is an Instant Pot recipe, you can always make this 8 hours ahead and leave the keep warm function on. Dal Makhani keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days. It tastes better the next day, in fact. And since it is impossible to make a small batch, you can always freeze the leftovers.
Freezing Dal Makhani
Allow the Dal Makhani to cool completely. When cool, freeze in freezer-safe containers in portions. It is always easier to thaw smaller portions. So whenever you freeze curries or dal, I suggest freezing them in small portions that are about 250 ml in quantity.
Dump and Go Dal Makhani
I have tried this too! Add the oil, spices, onions,ginger-garlic, spice powders, tomatoes, soaked lentils and water in layers in this order to the inner pot of your Instant Pot. Place the inner pot in the IP. Ensure the sealing ring is in place and close the lid.
Turn the valve to sealing. Switch on the IP and set it to Bean/Chili mode. That is it. You need not saute anything. Just let the cooking cycle complete. Once it is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally. Open and mix well. Mash gently. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.
- You can make the same recipe in any electric pressure cooker. This recipe works very well in the Mealthy Multipot too.
- I recommend a soaking time of at least 4 hours. Soaking reduces the cooking time and also aids in easy digestion of lentils and legumes. If you want to make it in the morning, you can also soak both the beans overnight.
- It is absolutely normal for the beans to look a dark blackish green after soaking. Please do not freak out.
Prepping the beans
Place the beans in a colander and wash them under running water. Combine the washed beans and 3 c water in a large bowl. Soak this for 4 to 6 hours. You can skip soaking the kidney beans if you are using canned kidney beans.
Making Dal Makani
Place the inner pot inside the IP. Switch on the IP and choose Saute mode on normal for 8 mins. Wait for the display to read HOT. When hot, add the oil. After 30 secs, add the cumin seeds and bay leaf.
When the cumin seeds begin to crackle, add ginger, garlic and finely chopped onions. Mix and saute for 1.5 mins or until the onions become pink and soft. At this stage, add the crushed Kasuri Methi, spice powders and salt. Mix well. Cook for 20 secs.
In the traditional Dal Makhani, they use a method called Dhungar. In this, they place a small piece of burning coal inside the dish and cover it just for a few seconds. This gives a beautiful smoky flavor. This is what they call as the Dhaba style Dal Makhani.
I prefer using smoked paprika to achieve this smoky flavor. While it may not be the real deal, it does give a nice smoky flavor.
Immediately, tip in the chopped tomatoes. Mix well and cook for 2 to 3 mins until tomatoes turn mushy. While the tomatoes are cooking, drain the beans completely and wash them once. When the tomatoes have cooked, add the soaked beans,maple syrup and water. Mix well.
Instant Pot Cooking Mode and Timing
Press cancel button. Ensure the sealing ring of the Instant Pot lid is in place. Now, close the Instant Pot and turn the valve to sealing.
Press the Bean/ Chili Mode. Allow the cooking cycle to complete.
When cooking is complete, do a quick pressure release after 5 mins of natural pressure release. That is, wait for 5 minutes before releasing pressure manually. Leave the Keep Warm mode on after the cooking is complete to keep track of the time. Make sure to be careful when doing a quick pressure release.
Quick pressure release means turning the valve from sealing to venting manually. By doing this, the pin drops, and the pressure is released manually. Please use a ladle or spoon to do this and keep your face away from the lid when you do a QPR.
Open the lid and mix well using a ladle. Mash the lentils using a potato masher. Now, add 1 cup, water to the dal and stir to combine.
Turn on the Saute mode on Normal for 5 mins and simmer the dal for 5 mins. Towards the end, garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.
Just before serving the Dal Makhani, swirl in the coconut milk on the top and serve hot.
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This Dal tastes great with any flatbreads or rice. The typical restaurant style Dal Makhani tastes great when you scoop it up with buttery naans or mix it with Pulao.
Pair this vegan Dal Makhani with
or just steamed Basmati rice.
Instant Pot Vegan Dal Makhani
- Instant Pot 6 qt
- 1 c Whole black Urad dal Black gram
- ¼ c Kidney beans Rajma
For Dal Makhani
- 1.5 tablespoon Neutral vegetabble oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cloves garlic very finely chopped
- 2 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
- ¾ c finely chopped onions
- ½ c finely chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon paprika Red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon crushed kasuri methi
- 1.5 teaspoon Salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander Dhania powder
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1 tablespoon Maple syrup Use 1.5 teaspoon brown sugar as a substitute
- 2+1 c water 1 c water to be added to the dal after it is cooked.
- 2 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves
- 1 tablespoon coconut milk
Soaking the beans
- Place the beans in a colander and wash them under running water.
- Combine the washed beans and 3 c water in a large bowl.
- Soak this for 4 to 6 hours.
- You can skip soaking the kidney beans if you are using canned kidney beans.
Making Dal Makani
- Place the inner pot inside the IP.
- Switch on the IP and choose Saute mode on normal for 8 mins.
- Wait for the display to read HOT.
- When hot, add the oil. After 30 secs, add the cumin seeds and bay leaf.
- When the cumin seeds begin to crackle, add ginger, garlic and finely chopped onions.
- Mix and saute for 1.5 mins or until the onions become pink and soft.
- At this stage, add the crushed Kasuri Methi, spice powders and salt.
- Mix well. Cook for 20 secs.
- Immediately, tip in the chopped tomatoes.
- Mix well and cook for 2 to 3 mins until tomatoes turn mushy.
- While the tomatoes are cooking, drain the beans completely and wash them once.
- When the tomatoes have cooked, add the soaked beans, maple syrup and water. Mix well.
Instant Pot Cooking Mode and Timing
- Press cancel button.
- Ensure the sealing ring of the Instant Pot lid is in place.
- Now, close the Instant Pot and turn the valve to sealing.
- Press the Bean/ Chili Mode.
- Allow the cooking cycle to complete.
- When cooking is complete, do a quick pressure release after 5 mins of natural pressure release.
- That is, wait for 5 mins before releasing pressure manually.
- Leave the Keep Warm mode on after the cooking is complete to keep track of the time.
- Make sure to be careful when doing a quick pressure release.
- Open the lid and mix well using a ladle.
- Mash the lentils using a potato masher.
- Now, add 1 c water to the dal and stir to combine.
- Turn on the Saute mode on Normal for 5 mins and simmer the dal for 5 mins.
- Towards the end, garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.
- Just before serving the Dal Makhani, swirl in the coconut milk on the top and serve hot.