Slow Cooker Dal MakhaniDal Makhani The Novice Housewife

I know I have posted about Dal Makhani once before on GMT. And while this is more or less the same recipe, it is one that I make in the slow cooker now so I thought a repost of it was necessary. Plus, there are some changes (albeit slight) to the recipe, so thought would just post the revised recipe.

In the  previous post I did give a brief introduction to Dal Makhani, but I found this article by a renowned Indian food critic, Vir Sanghvi, which dwells into the origins of Dal Makhani and as Vir Sanghvi’s research points out, the credit to the origins of dal makhani that we eat today can be attributed to Kundan Lal Gujra’s now famous hotel Moti Mahal in Daryaganj area of Delhi.

Another famous version of this dal is the five star hotel ITC’s Dal Bukhara. The Bukhara dal, according to the article, gets its thickness and creaminess from slow cooking. The chefs cook it on a low flame overnight and then, never take it off the fire. My father had told me about this earlier, so I thought of trying to cook it in my faithful crockpot and try to achieve restaurant style dal makhani and I am pretty pleased with the version I ma sharing with you all today.

The previous recipe of dal makhani I posted was a much more quick way of cooking the dal, but once I started cooking it in the slow cooker I have realized that without adding cream you can still achieve the creaminess and thickness of traditional dal makhani by just slow cooking it. Of course, adding cream and butter takes it another level of scrumptious goodness (Kundan Lal’s recipe has one kg of dal, 500 ml of cream and a full kg of butter!), but believe me, for the calorie conscious slow cooking the dal gives it the right amount of viscosity (and that rich taste) without the added fat.

dal makhani-11 dal makhani-9

In the pictures above I served the dal with V’s favorite baingan ka bharta and homemade naans. I will soon do a post on how to make naans (I have done a post before as well, but I prefer the new way I make them and would like to share that with you soon), so keep a look out for that.

Also, since it can be confusing for people to identify the different indian lentils used for making indian dals, I suggest having a look at this post I did which describes five different lentils with the pictures and has a pictorial reference of the whole urad and channa dals we use for this recipe.

Although the dal takes a long time to cook, it is mostly inactive time and its one of the easiest things one can make, since seriously its all about throwing everything in the crockpot and letting it do its magic. If you do want a quicker version you can still refer to the previous recipe, but do give this version a try as well.

UPDATE: As pointed by Andrew of Raw Green Madman in the comments below, it is important to boil the red kidney beans in water for ten minutes before dumping it in the slow cooker, so as to avoid red kidney bean poisoning. A more detailed explanation can be found here.

dal makhani-5 dal makhani-1

5.0 from 13 reviews
Garam Masala Tuesdays: Slow Cooker Dal Makhani
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 cup urad saboot (whole unskinned black lentils)
  • ½ cup red kidney beans
  • 2 tbsp channa dal
  • 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1½ tsp salt, or to taste
  • 4.5 cups water
  • 1 cup ready made tomato puree (If you have no tomato puree you can blanch the tomatoes, skin them and use pureed. But I have realized using canned tomato puree gives it the restaurant style colour and taste.)
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • pinch garam masala
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp aamchoor powder (raw mango powder- can be found in Indian grocery stores)
  • 2-3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp black salt (can be found in Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh cilantro/coriander, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp onion powder
Grind to paste
  • 2 dry, whole red chillies, preferably Kashmiri red chillies- deseeded and soaked for 10 minutes and then drained
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 6-8 flakes garlic
To Add later
  • ½ cup milk mixed with ½ cup cream (you could also just add ½ cup milk and skip the cream altogether if you like)
  1. Wash the lentils, red kidney beans and channa dal properly and add them to the slow cooker with 4 cups of water. (If you are pressure cooking them, then it is advisable to soak them in the water overnight but since these cook the whole night, I never pre soak them). Cook on low overnight with salt, ghee and the ginger-garlic-chilli paste added to the lentils and water. Update: As pointed by a reader of the blog, to avoid red kidney bean food poisoning, it is advisable to boil them for 10 minutes in water. And then dump them in the slow cooker. A link for the reason to do this is given in the blog post above.
  2. The next day in the morning, mash the lentils a bit and add the tomato puree, kasoori methi, red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder, nutmeg powder, aamchoor, coriander powder, black salt, onion powder, butter and let cook on low for another 4-6 hours.
  3. minutes before you are ready to serve, add the garam masala powder and if you like the cream and milk, or just milk.
  4. Add the chopped cilantro and serve with rice, naan or roti.

dal makhani-3

77 Thoughts on “Garam Masala Tuesdays: Slow Cooker Dal Makhani

  1. Nandeeta on 22 October, 2013 at 8:02 pm said:

    thanks for the recipe! what kind of slow cooker do you use?

  2. Awesome 🙂 I am big fan of Dal Makhani. Thanks for sharing this. Great pictures.

    Girish recently posted..Vanilla Ice-creamMy Profile

  3. i have never made daal makhni at home but since its a slow cooker version – I am very tempted to do it ASAP.

  4. thats a bowl of comfort for me. i know about the slow cooking process and the flavors it contributes.
    dassana recently posted..chivda recipe (chiwda), how to make poha chivda or namkeen chivda | quick & easy diwali snacksMy Profile

  5. Fantastic – I’ve still not made dal makhani, despite dal being one of my favourite types of food. I need to get myself some black lentils!
    frugalfeeding recently posted..Gluten Free Potato CakesMy Profile

  6. I realized looking at your post that I have a daal makhni recipe resting in my draft for a very long time! I used to always make daal makhni with only black daal and later I learnt that my version should actually be called daal bukhara.
    Beautiful lighting on the shots!
    Kankana recently posted..Garlic ChickenMy Profile

  7. This recipe looks wonderful. I always look forward to garam marsala days. I would love if you posted a recipe on how to make homemade naan breads. Is it difficult as would like to give that a try. Take Care, BAM

  8. Never tried in slow cooker… interesting .. gonna try asap !!
    Nice clicks
    sowmya recently posted..Pumpkin SambharMy Profile

  9. Mmm.. slow cooker is definitely a great method in cooking these robust flavors 🙂

    Kiran @ recently posted..Apple Bourbon & Pumpkin SangriaMy Profile

  10. I am sure the slow cooker is magic for the recipe, the flavors would’ve been great.
    Ash-foodfashionparty recently posted..RAVA-NUTS LADDU – HAPPY DIWALIMy Profile

  11. When do you add the red beans and chana dal, or are they considered to be lentils too and handled the same as the urad sabot?

  12. I love dal makhani Shumaila. I absolutely love it especially with bhaturas. But I will say this.,. dal makhani or especially whole chanas (chickpeas) would always make me go to sleep right after! My dal makhani days would be followed by dal makhani naps. Ah, lazy student life…how I miss it. But anyway, maybe if I make it your way, slightly lower cal, then I will enjoy my dal without the nap component, LOL.

  13. Kristen on 12 December, 2013 at 3:42 am said:

    I have just come back from a holiday in India and WOW this tastes exactly like one I had at a 5 star restaurant in Delhi on our last night. So good! Thank you so much for sharing. I am just in the middle of making it for the third time! 😀

  14. Sadaf Khan on 12 December, 2013 at 9:52 am said:

    I made this and it turned out great. Can you post any more slow cooker recipes? my slow cooker recipes rarely come out nice with indian food 🙁

  15. Sanjeev on 16 December, 2013 at 2:04 pm said:

    Shumaila, just wanted to drop you a note to thank you for the amazing recipe. I made it and fed it to my wife and mom and the daal came out amazing. Love your blog, the recipes and the pictures.

    • Thank you so much Sanjeev and am so glad you and your family enjoyed it. How sweet that you cooked for your wife and mom. I even read the comment to my husband hoping he takes the hint 😉

  16. Sanjeev on 17 December, 2013 at 4:56 pm said:

    Thanks Shumaila. by the way my daughter who is 6 was also licking her fingers! So a huge success all around. Have a dinner party this Friday so will be making this recipe for sure. Fortunately/unfortunately, I am a man of the new century and a cook in the family. So all meals are cooked by yours truly. I enjoy it so no pressure on your husband 🙂 Thanks again. And if you happen to have a good keema recipe please share. It has been a while I have had or made good keema.

  17. mememcgee on 8 January, 2014 at 4:02 pm said:

    When do I put the channa dal powder in?

    • I do not use channa dal powder. I use channa dal which is a kind of a bean, if I know my beans correctly. The red kidney beans, urad saboot and the channa dal all are put in together. I will make that clear in the recipe as well. Hope that helps.

  18. How long do I have to cook the lentils overnight?

  19. Hands down the best recipe. I made this for my wifes birthday dinner, and there were no leftovers….hears the kicker… I DOUBLED THE RECIPE! and there were no left overs.

    I am officially hooked to my slow cooker.

    Quick question: What do you think would be the best method to make it spicy? I was thinking about split a couple of small chili and dropping it into the slow cooker when adding the last of the recipes.
    Would it be a better option to use hotter red chili instead of Kashmiri chili in the Grinded paste?

  20. Can I do slow cooking in normal cooker on gas

    • I have not tried it but I know one of my friends tried this recipe and what she did was put the cooker on a pan that was on the gas and cooked for 6hours… In the post I have also given the link to the pressure cooker way to make this same dal.You could follow those steps and then let it cook on low flame for an hour or so. Again since I use the slow cooker I am not very sure as to how to actually go about it.

  21. Katharine on 18 February, 2014 at 3:00 pm said:

    Hi there, we’ve just bought a slow cooker and have been looking at recipes to try out. I think this is the one for my first attempt – no pressure! Could you possibly let me know whether the tomato purée is the concentrated stuff or just normal canned tomatoes? American English and English English can be confusing! I’m going to have to work out what a cup is next…Thanks also for the excellent post on the many varieties of dahl. Keep up the good work! Katharine x

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  23. Dear Shumaila,

    I am surprised that you didn’t boil the red kidney beans for 10 minutes before the slow-cooking. They contain a chemical called phytohemagglutinin which is poisonous and can cause belly trouble. It’s one of the safety measures one must take care of with slow cooker cooking.

    Your website is inspiring. I am a cooking daddy (just started my own blog yesterday on and my kids are now starting to get big enough to start enjoying indian delicacies. I make a relatively easy tarka dal, and a dal saag, and the next step is going to be your recipe.

    All the best from Switzerland,
    Andrew Magerman

    • Thank you so much for letting me know Andrew. I will definitely update the recipe to include this. I was not aware of this and read a little more about it after you pointed it out. I have never faced any discomfort so did not realise I was doing it wrong. Thank you again for letting me know. 🙂

  24. Yesterday the recipe was finished. Very good taste! It was the first time I used amchoor powder, kasoori methi and black salt. Very conveniently, the indian supplies shop had little jars of ginger-garlic paste – low effort.

    I did find, however, that the beans were sticking to the sides and bottom of my crockpot, so unless you have a trick, one should really stir the crockpot regularly.

  25. Dustin B on 16 June, 2014 at 10:00 am said:


    We have made this recipe twice now, in our crock pot (minus milk and cream, Himalayan salt subbed for black salt). Our total cooking times have been 17 hours and 21 hours (due to being at work most of the day). Each time gave the same result, super flavorful dal makhani! Served it up with rice and paratha.

    Thanks for sharing this really great method, that even when tweaked a bit, has turned out super tasty!!


  26. Pingback: Slow cooker dal makhani (Indian lentils)

  27. onion pwd kaisa hota hai aur kahan se mil sakta hai

  28. This is definitely the BESTSTSTST of all recipes for available on the internet for Dal Makhni.. Thanx a ton for the wonderful post! The Dal tasted fabUlous

  29. This is undoubtedly the BESTSTSTST recipe available over the internet for Dal makhni. The dal tasted fabulous! Thanx a ton for the wonderful post!!:)

  30. Vikram Khanna on 11 January, 2015 at 3:29 pm said:

    Hello very nice explanation of recipe Was just wondering if you have ever double the recipe?

  31. I’ve had a little trouble with the lentils remaining too firm, despite cooking them for around 19 hours altogether! What am I doing wrong?


  32. I waited a month to try this recipe and I am so glad that it did not disappoint at all. I used probably half the amount of ghee and no butter but Extra virgin olive oil. I did not have any black salt at hand ( will buy next time) and wanted to try without milk or cream and it was GREAT!!! I can only imagine if I did add the butter and the cream to it . I will add the extra fat when I have company over but for me it is great without it and really does not need it at all. Thank you so much for this recipe. Tried this recipe 8 times throughout the last 10 years with horrible results and finally with your help I made it at home. Thanks again. your Awesome!!

    • Oh Ben you have to try it with butter. Its not Dal “Makhani” (makhani means something that is buttery) if there is no butter. Lol. And now that TIME magazine has given the green light to butter and saying it doesnt affect cholesterol I am sure with the right amount of exercise you can afford to put a little fat in this dish 😉
      I am so glad you liked the recipe and thank you so much for letting me know.

  33. This looks like a promising recipe! Can’t wait to try it. As one of the other commenters pointed out, it is not a good idea to add dry kidney beans to slow cooker recipes without a quick soak first, not just pressure cookers as you indicated. When you quick soak them the toxin gets released into to cooking liquid which you then drain away. There is a class of beans for which this is true. When you toss them in dry, and skip that step, you leave the toxin in your dish. Just because you yourself haven’t felt ill doesn’t mean it’s an ok slow cooker practice, or a good idea for people to feed toxins to their kids 🙁

  34. Thanks for posting this recipe! I’ve made it several times, and have shared it with a friend from Amritsar (they loved it)..

    I’ve got all the spices you list. I use tomatoe paste instead of puree, and add 1 stick of cinnamon bark at the spice stage. I also add a pinch of fennel and fenugreek seed, ground black cardamom and asafoetida (heeng spice)

    Phenomenal, easy to make, and very inexpensive (assuming you’ve already invested in the spices.

    Goes extremely well with some nice basmati rice and homemade tandoori chicken.


  35. Anita Thakur on 23 December, 2015 at 12:43 pm said:

    Question for Shumaila – My slow cooker has two settings – high and low. Which one should I use? I am planning to make it this weekend.
    Thank you,

  36. A.K.P on 17 March, 2016 at 9:30 am said:

    I am not sure I have seen garlic flakes in the stores around me. How many cloves of fresh garlic do you think I would need? Thank you.

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  38. Emily on 29 March, 2016 at 7:55 am said:

    Can I soak the lentils overnight and then just cook in the slow cooker day 2 for a bit longer? I do not have a pressure cooker. Do you think this would work?

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  41. Nadia on 2 June, 2016 at 6:18 pm said:

    I am so glad i found your recipe for slow cooker dak makhani! This was absolutely delicious and so easy to make! My husband was so impressed and told me it tasted like it came from a restaurant! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  42. Deepika on 10 July, 2016 at 12:28 am said:

    Hi. I don’t have a slow cooker. Will using a pressure cooker alter the taste. Also do we need to add 2 tbsp of Kanduri methi leaves or powder?

    • Hey yes you can make it in the pressure cooker too. In the beginning of the post I have given a link to the pressure cooker version of this recipe. Its 2 tbsp kasoori methi/ dried fenugreek leaves. Hope you like it!

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  44. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I found your recipe because my husband and I are trying to cut back on meat, and dal is a great replacement. We’ve tried several variations but this one is our favorite! The first time I made this I couldn’t even find all the ingredients so I had to make substitutions or do without, and it still was fantastic. Since then, I’ve been collecting the right ingredients as I find them so that I have all the spices and dried pulses on hand to make this over and over again.

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  47. Aanchal on 19 November, 2016 at 9:50 am said:

    Hey thanks for the recipe. We’ve been trying to find a good recipe of dal makhani through slow cooking since quite a while now. We cooked it on the traditional sigdi, the one we use coal in. It turned out amazing… my husband who is a food critic and a great cook himself, loved it and his statement was… PERFECT!!! yieeee… super happy. Thanks again.

  48. Carrie on 7 May, 2017 at 6:35 pm said:

    I love this recipe. Only modification I made was to cut the tomato by 1/3 and make up the difference with additional water and to add 1/2 tsp of cardamom. Might be the brand of tomato sauce I was using, but my first batch, while delicious, was just a little tomato-y, and it drowned out some of the lovely spices. Second batch, with less tomato, was perfect. Will make again and again.

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  50. This recipe is great! Easy to make, and just like the dal makhani from my favourite local Indian restaurant.

    I changed the recipe a bit to make it vegan. I substituted a 50/50 mix of coconut oil and rice bran oil for the ghee (these oils respond well to heat), and added coconut cream and almond milk instead of cows milk and cream. The coconut cream went in with 1hr of cooking left. In my experience cooking coconut cream removes the distinctive coconut taste but still gives a creamy flavour and texture. Anyway, it worked brilliantly. I’ll definitely be making this again.

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  53. I had the epiphany that even though I live in HOT Texas, I could use my slow cooker on the porch outside and not heat my house! And this was the first recipe cooked on the porch 🙂 It was SO good – better than a restaurant, and it was fun tracking down the authentic ingredients. I made it exactly to spec, but let it simmer an extra 5 hours and it was fantastic. Thanks so much for posting! And, as a photographer I have to say that your photos are sumptuous!

  54. Shumaila – Thank you for the recipe. I am trying it for our Thanksgiving meal tomorrow, and so that we have another, flavorful option (not just dry turkey!). Will my 4 quart slow cooker be large enough, or even large enough to double the recipe for several guests? Thanks again!

  55. Had bookmarked this recipe and could try it only today. Was delicious. Thanks for the detailed.instructions – my first in slow cooker. Definitely a keeper.

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