Vegan Dal Makhani: Treat Your Taste Buds To This Creamy Delight

No matter what trend sets in, protein-rich Dal Makhani will remain the ultimate North Indian choice for that sumptuous and rich lentil meal. This Dal Makhani, however, is a greater source of joy for vegans that ensures creamy texture and taste with coconut milk instead of milk cream. No more complaints? Whether you are a traditional food lover, or you want to have a festive treat, this bowl of vegan dal makhani will lovingly take care of all your concerns. The soaked black gram and kidney beans are pressure cooked with potli of whole spices and mixed with onion and tomato masala and thickened with coconut cream for that buttery and smooth texture and feel. 

Historically, Dal Makhani is made with black urad dal or mash ki dal, and rajma dal (or kidney beans cooked), enriched with cream and topped with butter (or makhan), thus called Dal Makhani. It is cooked slowly to get a cream-like thick consistency. This dish has quite an interesting history. We consider it popularly a Punjabi dish. However, the owner of the Moti Mahal chain of restaurants, Kundan Lal Gujaral, is credited with its invention in Delhi. How so? Well, the two stories are interlinked. 

The story goes like this. Kundan Lal Gujaral used to work in Mukhey Da Dhaba in Peshawar of Pakistan in the 1940s, but was sold to this Dhaba after Mukhey Singh, the Dhaba owner's health worsened. Gujral renamed it Moti Mahal. But post-partition, he migrated to Delhi and brought Punjab’s traditional black urad lentil recipe along with him too. However, this black urad dal preparation turned into the current-day Dal Makhani, only when Gujaral mixed cream and tomatoes, as a souring agent for the dal. And thus, we got Punjabi Dal Makhani in Delhi. It is said that the dish was created to complement butter chicken which was also invented by Gujaral. 

Here’s the recipe for Vegan Dal Makhani

Preparation time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Servings: 2-3


1. 2 cups soaked black urad dal

2. ¼ cup soaked kidney beans 

3. Salt to taste

4. Whole spices: 

5. 3-4 bay leaves

6. 1 tbsp tea leaves

7. 1 tbsp tamarind

8. 1-2 cinnamon sticks

9. 2-3 cloves

10. 3-4 black cardamoms

For the masala:

1. 2 tbsp oil

2. 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

3. 1 cup chopped onions

4. 1 cup chopped tomatoes

5. 1 tsp turmeric powder

6. 1 tsp red chilli powder

7. 1 tsp cumin powder

8. 1 tbsp coriander powder

9. 1 tsp garam masala powder

10. Salt to taste

11. 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves

12. ½ cup chopped coriander leaves

13. 2 tbsp coconut milk


1. Soak the lentils for 8 hours or overnight.

2. Transfer these soaked lentils in a pressure cooker. Then take a small white clean muslin cloth, put the whole spices in it, and tie it up with a strong knot. 

3. Pour 2-4 cups of water in the cooker and immerse the potli in the pressure cooker and add salt to taste.

4. Cook the lentils in the pressure cooker for 20-25 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the masala in a pan. Add oil and heat it.

6. Add ginger-garlic paste, onions and sauté for a minute. Then add tomatoes and mix well with the spices. 

7. Put all the powdered spices into it and sauté well. 

8. Pour the cooked dal into the spices, mix it up and sauté them for a while to infuse everything well. 

9. Then add salt as per requirement and mix.

10. Crush dried fenugreek leaves with both palms and add in dal.

11. Add chopped coriander leaves into it too.

12. Add coconut milk, stir it well and cook for a couple of minutes.

13. Garnish with coriander leaves and a dash of coconut milk.

This high-calorie bowl of Vegan Dal Makhani is ideally eaten with steaming hot rice and salads and is a complete meal in itself. This North Indian cuisine can be eaten in the afternoon meals or dinner, depending on whatever suits your palette and fills your platter.