Homemade Black Lentils {Instant Pot Dal Makhani}

Instant Pot Dal Makhani | Pantry Staple Cooking

Looking for interesting ways to add lentils to your diet? It doesn’t get any better than this dish. Instant Pot Dal Makhani aka Black Lentils made at home checks all the boxes.

Dal Makhani is not an everyday food in India. Named after its more famous cousin Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken), this dish is often considered a treat that you order when you go out to eat in a restaurant. Decades ago my brother decided this was his favourite dal, and so my mom tested and came up with her own version of homemade Dal Makhani. This recipe, my mom’s version is better than any restaurant dish and it is far healthier than you expect.

Instant Pot Dal Makhani

Lentils are considered a superfood for our bodies and also for the planet. They feature highly on my “Eat This, Not That” list of 7 yummy and sustainable foods for many reasons. This food is versatile and good for our physical and mental health. They also have a very low carbon footprint and can be grown anywhere because they require very little water. So many reasons! The bonus though? Lentils can be stored in the pantry for YEARS.

And times like these when grocery shopping is carefully scheduled and juggled, these lentils will make for nourishing and delicious dinner.

Dal Makhani | Instant Pot Black Lentils | Pantry Staples Cooking

Use What you Have Black Lentils

The ingredients in this dish may already be found in your pantry. Along with long-life veggies like onions, garlic and ginger, and turmeric and coriander, this dish will boost our immunity, promote gut health and protect our bodies against infection. All what we need right now!

Real-life Kitchen Tips

  • Black lentils have the highest fibre and other nutrition. They take a while to cook and are best made in a pressure cooker. I use an Instant Pot. You can totally use what you have.
  • This recipe is also FABULOUS in the slow-cooker. Treat the lentils like a stew and set it accordingly. The deep, robust flavour will blow you away!
  • Soaking the lentils for a few hours will reduce the cooking time. If the day got away and you’re running late for dinner prep, soak for 30 mins in warm water. It will help speed along the process.
  • I have seen black lentils available in cans too. If that’s what you are using then start from Step 2.
Dal Makhani | Instant Pot Black Lentils | Pantry Staples Cooking
Instant Pot Dal Makhani | Pantry Staple Cooking

Instant Pot Dal Makhani {Homemade Black Lentils}

Print Recipe
Course DInner, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Lentils, Pantry Staples, Vegetarian recipe
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Author Puneeta


  • Instant Pot or another pressure cooker


  • 1 cup black daal (urad)
  • 2 tbsp red kidney beans (rajma)
  • 2 onions, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1/2 cup passata tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp ghee (you can also substitute with oil)
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 3 cups water

Whole Spices

  • 1 black cardamom
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 in long piece of cinnamon

Powdered spices

  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder


  • Rinse the lentils and beans a couple of times and then soak them in abundant water for 4 hours. Less time? Use warm water and soak for 30 mins.
  • Start the Instant Pot on saute. Add oil or ghee.
  • Add the whole spices and let them fry for a min.
  • Add onions, garlic and ginger and cook for 4 mins.
  • Add tomato sauce and cook for another 5 mins. You should be able to see some of the oil outlining the paste at this point. This means the masala is now ready for the spices.
  • Add the powdered spices, toss and cook for a min
  • Add the soaked lentils and 3 cups of water. Add salt. Stir it all together and scrape any bits stuck to the bottom.
  • Set Instant Pot to 35 min on High. Lock the lid.
  • NP for 10 mins. Open lid and stir and mash a little bit with a heavy ladle. Add water if needed. It should be a stewy consistency.
  • Add cream and stir just a little bit. If you're eating later then don't reheat the lentils to boiling after you have added cream. It may separate.
  • Serve with rice, roti, naan, toast or as soup with a salad. It's FABULOUS any way you eat it.

Questions + Comments

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Graham Isenegger
3 years ago

5 stars
I made this recently. Doubled the recipe and did the quick soak that didn’t quite do it so needed to rrpressurize and cook another 7 minutes. Used coconut milk instead of cream.

Worked out really well! Spicy without being hot.

Would love if you figured out the timing using dry beans and lentils rather than soaked – but I will make again and experiment.

3 years ago

5 stars
We did not use the red kidney beans or the cream, and used regular cardamom, as we did not have black on hand. This is delicious!

About Puneeta

Author, Educator, Speaker

Puneeta is a writer, food advocate and guide for those who seek earth-friendly, delicious solutions that work for real life.

Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma, Food Writer, Climate Advocate, New cookbook - Good Food, Healthy Planet - out April 2024
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
Photo by Diana Muresan
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