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Instant Pot Vegan Dal Makhani

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Instant Pot Vegan Dal Makhani is probably my favorite Indian dish ever, and now it’s easier to make than ever before in the Instant Pot! This vegan recipe is loaded with flavor and doesn’t miss out on any of the buttery goodness of traditional dal makhani.

A bowl of dal makhani is presented on a wooden surface next to a beige linen tea cloth.

I first had dal makhani in London at Dishoom and I swear it changed my life forever. I’m exaggerating a tad, of course, but I was told that I, 1. had to go to Dishoom if I ever was in London and 2. I had to get the house black dal makhani.

I listen very well because I did both and you guys – you must do it too! I mean, hopping across the pond right now might seem like an impossible feat but if you ever get the chance to do it, you must visit Dishoom.

The moment I tasted the dal makhani, it was like a rich, buttery, velvety explosion of flavor in my mouth. It paired so perfectly with the garlic naan and the dark, complex flavors really made the dish incredible. I said, “I have to make this at home, or at least try.” Well, that was like five years ago and I have since been back to London several times and every time I visit London, I make it a point to go to Dishoom and get this dish. It is the one dish I CONSTANTLY crave and think about.

When there is a dish that you constantly think about and wish you could have…you know it’s the one. There are places here in the DC area that try but there is truly nothing like the one Dishoom serves. It doesn’t compare at all.

Chopped cilantro is sprinkled across the top of a bowl of dal makhani.

So fast forward five years and now that it’s getting chilly outside, it’s time to start making those warm and cozy dishes that hit the spot. I recently started craving dal makhani again. This version is vegan-friendly, which I love, and super easy to make in the Instant Pot. My Indian friend shared this recipe with me and this is how she makes it at home.

What is dal makhani?

If you’ve never heard of dal makhani before, it’s a classic Indian dish. It is made using black lentils (urad dal) and red kidney beans (rajma) that have been soaked overnight. If you’re interested in the full history and origins of dal makhani, this is a great article.

What I love most about this dish is that while it’s certainly warm and comforting, it’s also full of rich flavor and has an age-old history to it. It’s especially good when paired with Homemade Naan!

If you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, you’ll especially love this dairy-free recipe that’s loaded with all-natural ingredients.

Rice, dal makhani, and naan are placed on a white plate.

Ingredients for vegan dal makhani

  • Beans – whole urad dal black dram beans as well as red kidney beans.
  • Tomatoes – I use canned diced tomatoes, but you could also opt for three large tomatoes.
  • Onion – Red onions have the most potent flavor.
  • Ginger and garlic – either mince them each yourself or buy a mixed paste.
  • Kashmiri chili powder – If you can’t find any, try to mix together equal parts smoked paprika and cayenne pepper as a quick substitute.
  • Cumin – Seeds, not powder.
  • Turmeric – To help create that classic Indian flavor.
  • Garam masala – This complex spice gives this dish a unique and warm flavor.
  • Butter – To keep this recipe dairy-free, use a vegan butter.
  • Kasuri methi – This ingredient should be crushed. It’s also known as dried fenugreek leaves.
  • Salt – To taste.
  • Cream – I like to use either unsweetened coconut cream or cashew cream.
  • Garnish – Chopped cilantro or parsley are both great options.

Where can I find these ingredients?

Lately, most major grocery stores have been expanding their stock to include more of both international and plant-based items.

However, if your local store doesn’t have a lot of the ingredients listed, try a store like Whole Foods. If you’re still out of luck, try and see if there are any Indian stores near you, or check the Internet for more options.

A bowl if filled with dal makhani and sides.

Ingredient notes and substitutions

Dried beans vs. canned – since this is an Instant Pot version, I wouldn’t suggest using canned kidney beans in this as they would overcook immensely. However, if you want to still use canned kidney beans, you should add them in after the urad dal is finished cooking.

Whole black urad dal – There is no such thing as canned whole urad dal and it is not the same as black lentils used in Western cooking. There is unfortunately no substitute for this so if you can’t find it in your local stores, it is best to try to source it online. You’re also looking for whole urad dal.

Coconut cream vs. cashew cream – both work really well in this recipe. They both have the fat that it takes to replicate the non-vegan version of the recipe that uses heavy cream and they both make it very creamy without the dairy. Coconut cream is much easier to find. Cashew cream isn’t readily available and you usually have to make it yourself.

Tips for making Instant Pot vegan dal makhani

  • If you know you’re going to be making this at some point during the week, remember that the pulses (beans) need an overnight soak so make sure to allot time for it.
  • Remember that you will also have to build in time for pressure to be built up and pressure to be released.

Is this spicy?

Nope! The colors from the spices create a deep, rich orange-red color that make the dish appear spicy, but there’s not a whole lot of heat here. If you’d like it to be spicy, try adding some cayenne pepper or dried red chiles.

A lemon wedge is placed on a full plate next to white rice.

Get some use out of your Instant Pot with more of my favorite recipes.

Instant Pot Minestrone Soup

Instant Pot Turkey Breast

Instant Pot Lentil Soup with Squash

Instant Pot Jalapeño Lime Chicken Soup

Instant Pot Vegan Dal Makhani

This vegan version is loaded with flavor and doesn't miss out on any of the buttery goodness of traditional dal makhani.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Overnight soak: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Julie Chiou
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Ingredients 

  • 1 cup whole dried black whole urad dal black gram beans
  • ¼ cup red kidney beans
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, or substitute with 3 big tomatoes
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste or minced ginger garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilly powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi crushed, (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut cream or cashew cream
  • Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish

Instructions

  • Rinse and soak the lentils (black urad dal and the kidney beans) in 3 cups water overnight.
  • The next day, drain the water and set the beans aside.
  • Switch on the sauté mode in your Instant Pot and add 3 tablespoons vegan butter.
  • When the butter becomes hot, add the cumin seeds and let it sizzle.
  • Now add the onions, minced ginger garlic and sauté for about 4 minutes until the onions start turning golden.
  • Now add the tomatoes, Kashmiri chilly powder, turmeric powder and sauté for another 5 to 6 minutes.
  • When done add the soaked beans, 2 ½ cups water and salt to taste.
  • Switch off the saute mode and cook on manual mode/ pressure cook mode (High) for 30 minutes.
  • When done, let the pressure release naturally.
  • Now take ¼ cup of the dal and grind/ blend it to a puree. You can also use a hand blender to blend some of the dal.
  • Now switch on the saute mode in low heat setting and let it cook for 15 minutes. Stir once in a while so it does not stick to the bottom.
  • Add the remaining vegan butter, coconut cream, crushed kasuri methi, garam masala and mix.
  • Serve hot garnished with chopped cilantro with a side of rice / naan.

Recipe Notes

If you do not want a vegan version, simply substitute vegan butter with normal butter/ ghee and add cream instead of coconut cream.
Blending some dal and cooking it again makes the dal creamy. Since we do not add any cream or butter in the recipe, doing this will give you a consistency that’s close to the original version.
Kashmiri chilly powder gives the dal it’s dark orange/ red color. It is not very spicy. If you are using other chilly powders instead, make sure you adjust it according to your spice levels.
If you were not able to soak the beans overnight, you can soak them hot water for 2 to 3 hours and proceed with the recipe or add the dry beans directly and cook it in 3 1/2 cups water for 75 minutes instead.

YOUR NOTES

NUTRITION FACTS

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 220 kcal | Carbohydrates: 24 g | Protein: 10 g | Fat: 10 g | Saturated Fat: 5 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3 g | Trans Fat: 1 g | Sodium: 166 mg | Potassium: 238 mg | Fiber: 9 g | Sugar: 3 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: indian recipes, instant pot recipes, vegan recipes
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