No Butter Dal Makhani
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Dal makhani is one of the most loved dals and almost always on the menu at any restaurant serving Indian food. It is creamy and extremely filling. You could eat this dal all by itself as a meal or eat it with a roti or naan like the Indians do. Either way or fashion, it is a gorgeously creamy, yummy dal. I have used coconut oil in place of the ghee or butter, which didn’t change its flavor much but sure made it healthier! (Editor's Note: The prep time is hands on time only. Allow time for soaking.)
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4 servings
  • ¾ cup (150 g) whole black gram beans (whole urad dal)
  • ¼ cup (50 g) red kidney beans
  • 4 cups (960 ml) + ¼ cup (60 ml) water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon (6 g) cumin seeds
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 2 to 3 whole cloves
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 3 small onions, chopped
  • 1-inch (2.5-cm) piece ginger, crushed
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 to 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, pureed
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons (5 g) Kashmiri chili powder (reduce to half if using regular chili powder)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) tomato paste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon (2 g) dried fenugreek leaves (kasturi methi)
  1. Soak the beans overnight or for at least 7 to 8 hours.
  2. Rinse the beans, and place them both in a pressure cooker with 4 cups (960 ml) water. Add the salt and close the lid of the pressure cooker. Cook on high heat and wait until it gives 8 to 10 whistles. Lower the heat to low and cook for another 30 minutes.
  3. In a nonstick deep pan, heat the coconut oil on medium heat and add the cumin seeds, cinnamon, black cardamom, cloves, green cardamoms and bay leaf. Let steep for around 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the coconut oil is fragrant with the spices.
  4. Add the chopped onions and sauté until golden brown in color. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until the raw smell of the ginger and garlic are gone, around 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chopped green chilies and the pureed fresh tomatoes and cook this mixture until the oil releases from the sides of the pan or for 15 to 20 minutes on medium-low heat. Halfway through this, add the turmeric, Kashmiri chili powder and the tomato paste.
  5. Once the tomato mixture is cooked, add the cooked beans. Add the ¼ cup (60 ml) water, or more if you want the dal thinner, and salt and mix well. On low heat, cook for at least 30 minutes. I sometimes let it simmer away for minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat, crush the fenugreek leaves on top of the dal, stir and garnish with cilantro leaves and a swirl of coconut milk and add some red onion slices. Serve fresh with roti or dairy-free naan.
Credits: Reprinted with permission from Heavenly Vegan Dals & Curries by Rakhee Yadav, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. Photo also by Rakhee Yadav.
Recipe by Go Dairy Free at