No Butter Dal Makhani is a Heavenly Indian Dish made Vegan


Dal makhani, also known as dal makhni, literally translates to “buttery lentils.” It’s an Indian dish that’s usually made with whole black lentils (urad), red kidney beans (rajma), dairy butter, and cream. Sometimes it’s prepared with yogurt or milk instead, but it can also be made without dairy. This No Butter Dal Makhani happens to be a dairy-free version from the cookbook, Heavenly Vegan Dals & Curries.

Vegan No Butter Dal Makhani Recipe - a great pressure cooker or instant pot option. Also nut-free, soy-free, and gluten-free.

No Butter Dal Makhani is a Heavenly Indian Dish made Vegan

Earlier this year, Rakhee Yadav released her first cookbook, Heavenly Vegan Dals & Curries. Rakhee is Indian, but she has spent much of her time living in the U.S. and Netherlands. Her blog, Box of Spice, isn’t strictly vegan – she uses quite a bit of dairy in many of her recipes. But it’s fantastic that she still took the time to create this plant-based, dairy-free collection.

That said, Rakhee’s recipes aren’t for the faint of heart. She uses classic Indian ingredients, modern concepts, and an abundance of produce to create unique, full-flavored dishes. Almost every recipe contains numerous spices, an array of vegetables, and natural vegan proteins, like beans and lentils.

Fortunately, the photography throughout Heavenly Vegan Dals & Curries is simply stunning, and will motivate you to take on the challenge. There are no feelings of missing out when you see the vivid photos of creative dishes like …

  • Vegan No Butter Dal Makhani Recipe - a great pressure cooker or instant pot option. Also nut-free, soy-free, and gluten-free.Braised Fennel Curry in Pickling Spices with Blistered Chili Peppers
  • Lemongrass Turnip Chana Dal with Roasted Romanesco
  • Turmeric Bulgur Lentils with Green Pea Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus & Tahini Vinaigrette
  • Spicy Sweet Potato Curry with Zucchini Fries
  • Spinach Curry with Dal Dumplings
  • Vaal Dal with Kachumbar Salad, Poppy Seed Artichokes & Chimichurri Sauce
  • Pav Bhaji Burgers with Spicy Mango Chutney
  • Tomato & Smashed Potato Curry with Spinach Pesto
  • Ratatouille Curry with Zucchini Tofu Koftas
  • Split Green Pea Pizza with Walnut Mint Chutney
  • Baked Sweet Potato Stuffed with Chana Masala Lentils & Cashew Cream

Rakhee let me choose which recipe to feature, and this No Butter Dal Makhani seemed perfect. Both the photograph and the recipe are such good examples of what you will find in Heavenly Vegan Dals & Curries. It contains a broad array of fragrant spices, with flavors that are developed in the cooking process, and result in this incredible, protein-rich, dairy-free, plant-based meal. And it’s a great use for your pressure cooker or Instant Pot!

Vegan No Butter Dal Makhani Recipe - a great pressure cooker or instant pot option. Also nut-free, soy-free, and gluten-free.

Special Diet Notes: No Butter Dal Makhani

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.

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.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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