Instant Pot Indian Black Lentils and Kidney Beans (Dal Makhani)


A bowl of lentils and kidney beans (dal makhani), with beans and spices in the background
Instant Pot Indian Black Lentils and Kidney Beans (Dal Makhani)

Instant Pot Indian Black Lentils and Kidney Beans. Pressure cooker Dal Makhani, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey, a simple dal for a weeknight dinner.

Back when I got my first pressure cooker in 2003, in the US it was an offbeat cooking gadget, not yet the cultural juggernaut of the Instant Pot. There were only a handful of authors who wrote pressure cooker recipes on a regular basis. There was Lorna Sass, of course; most of what I learned came from her cookbooks, and I owned everything she published. Cooking magazines would have a pressure cooker article about once every five years, and I’d get a few recipes that way. I collected the recipe booklets that came with pressure cookers, because every manufacturer would get me some more ideas to work with.

Then there was Madhur Jaffrey, whose Indian cookbooks always had some pressure cooker recipes. Pressure cookers in India stayed popular through the years, unlike the United States boom and bust that PCs went through in the 1950’s US. I found a bunch of good recipes through her.

When the Instant Pot hurricane hit a few years back, Mrs. Jaffrey leaned into it with her Instantly Indian Cookbook. That’s where today’s inspiration came from – this is my take on her Dal Makhani recipe, with black lentils and red kidney beans, and garam masala. Her recipe is simple, but I couldn’t help myself and used some of my own techniques in the cooking. I also skip her tarka of freshly sautéed onions at the end – see the notes if you want to add them. (I know, if I had an Indian grandmother, she’d be rolling over in her grave. It was a weeknight, OK?)

Recipe: Instant Pot Indian Black Lentils and Kidney Beans (Dal Makhani)

Adapted from: Madhur Jaffrey’s Instantly Indian Cookbook

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Description

Instant Pot Indian Black Lentils and Kidney Beans. Pressure cooker Dal Makhani, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey, a simple dal for a weeknight.


Soaking kidney beans

  • 6 ounces (¾ cup) dried red kidney beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt

Dal Makhani

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 ounces (¾ cup) kidney beans, soaked (see above)
  • 12 ounces (1¾ cups) black lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 5 cups water
  • 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala


  1. Sort and rinse the kidney beans: Sort the kidney beans, discarding any stones, dirt, or broken beans. Rinse the beans, then do an overnight or a quick soak.
  2. Overnight soak: Cover the kidney beans with 6 cups of water, and sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoons of salt. Leave the beans to soak at least 8 hours, or overnight. Drain and discard the soaking liquid.
  3. OR: Pressure Quick Soak for 1 minute with a 30 minute rest: Put the kidney beans and 6 cups of water in an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. Sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoons of salt. Pressure cook at high pressure for 1 minute (“Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot for 1 minute), then quick release the pressure. Let the beans soak in the pot for 30 minutes, then drain the beans and discard the soaking liquid.
  4. Toast the aromatics and spices: Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in an Instant Pot set to sauté mode (use medium heat in a stovetop PC). Add the ginger and garlic to the butter, and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons garam masala and the cayenne pepper. Toast for 1 minute to bloom the spices.
  5. Beans and liquid in the pot: Stir in the soaked and drained kidney beans, rinsed black lentils, 5 cups water, crushed tomatoes, and 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt.
  6. Pressure cook for 15 minutes with a Natural Release: Lock the lid on the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. (12 minutes in a stovetop PC). Let the pressure come down naturally, about 20 minutes. (If you’re in a hurry, you can quick release any remaining pressure after 15 minutes). Remove the lid carefully, opening away from you – even when it’s not under pressure, the steam in the cooker is very hot.
  7. Stir, season, and serve: Stir the beans in the pot vigorously to break up some of the lentils and thicken the stew. Stir in the heavy cream, butter, and 1 teaspoon garam masala. Serve with basmati rice and enjoy!

Notes

Tarka: Mrs. Jaffrey recommends cooking a tarka – sautéed aromatics and spices stirred into the dal at the last minute. This was a step too far for my weeknight dinners, but it does add a touch of elegance and finesse to the recipe. If you want to add a Tarka, sauté a small sliced onion in 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat until browned around the edges, then sprinkle it with ¼ teaspoon of paprika, and stir it in at the end of the recipe.

Cayenne pepper: ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper gives this recipe a “medium heat” level. If you can’t take the heat, skip the cayenne pepper. If you think Indian Hot is the only way to make dal, add ¾ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and stand back.

Tools

6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot 6-Quart Pressure Cooker)

  • Category: Weeknight Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: Instant Pot Indian Black Lentils and Kidney Beans (Dal Makhani), Pressure Cooker Indian Black Lentils and Kidney Beans (Dal Makhani)

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

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