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.

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This picture is the photo that was published with the original post. Yup, my photography skills have improved significantly and hopefully the improvement continues! Also keep in mind that while the updated photographs are from Nikon D7000 during natural day light, the original pics were clicked with my iPhone at night under a bulb’s light:)

I finally got it!! V had been guarding his lentil recipe all this while. For the uninitiated, V makes this awesome toovar dal (cooked lentils) in the slow cooker. This was the recipe that got him by his bachelor days. And uptil now he wouldn’t tell me how he makes it. He always throws me out of the kitchen whenever he makes it (which has been twice before) so that I don’t get to know his secret recipe (rolling eyes).

Now, for days I had been craving his dal, with some rice. And since the rare occasions that he cooks fall on Sundays and all the previous Sundays we have been out- that craving just kept increasing. Finally, the Sunday that went, V decided to give in to my cravings and set his foot in the kitchen. 🙂

Haha! This picture of V just cracks me up!

Haha! This picture of V just cracks me up!

This time though, he was willing to share his secret!! Well, the opportunity to be featured on my blog- not just in photos but as an actual contributor- that was too big for him to pass on, so he let me in on his secret.

So there I was, with my phone in hand taking down notes and pictures while V explained how his dal is made.

Here’s how to make V’s Crockpot Dal:

4.6 from 11 reviews
V's Crockpot Lentil Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: crockpot, slow cooker, lentils, dinner, lunch, entree
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 3-4
What you need for the slow cooker:
  • 1 cup split pigeon peas (toovar dal)
  • 3.5 cups water
  • 3 roma tomatoes, cut in big slices
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Salt, to taste
For the tadka, you need:
  • 3 garlic cloves, cut lengthwise, in slivers
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee (V adds more, I think but, so that I don't freak out he mentioned a "smaller" amount)
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chilli powder
  1. Take the dal (split pigeon peas), and wash it properly. Add the water, tomatoes, turmeric and salt. Put the lid on the crockpot and turn it on HIGH. Let cook for 4 hours.
  2. After 4 hours, the lentil should be cooked. Now comes the part that holds the key to the dal being so freakingly good.
The secret to his dal, according to V is the tadka (the tempering of spices).
  1. To temper, heat clarified butter (ghee) to a real hot temperature in a saucepan. Add the garlic, fry til they turn brown. Add the cumin, coriander and red chilli powder. (You might want to open a window, because the spices do tend to get into your system). Fry till it looks a little burnt. (I confirmed with V and he said thats how its supposed to be.)
  2. Add the burnt looking tempered spices to the crockpot and quickly close the lid. After a few seconds, lift the lid- with a ladle take out some dal and put in the saucepan used for tempering. Scrape out any remaining spices in the saucepan, and add the liquid back to the crock pot.
  3. Serve it warm with rice and some curd. The dal has a very strong flavor of garlic but I think thats what adds to the beauty of it. 🙂