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Of the few dishes that unite vegetarians and non-vegetarians of India, dal makhani is one of them. The dish was invented by Kundan Lal Gujral, founder of Moti Mahal chain of restaurants, and is made using black urad dal. It is usually served with piping hot tandoori rotis or naan. The Moti Mahal staple, over the years, has become a popular fixture among north Indian households and restaurant menus not only because of its incredible flavours, but also because of its simplicity. 

A simple tadka of onions, tomato puree, ginger-garlic paste, green chillies, and a generous dollop of butter to the boiled lentils forms the foundation of a dal makhani. But to make your dal makhani from good to great, and achieve restaurant-style perfection you have to offer more than TLC. 


We reached out to chefs Ajay Chopra and Kunal Kapur to share the secrets behind an exceptional kadai of dal makhani. 


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1.    For the perfect dal makhani, soak the urad dal overnight or at leat 6-7 hours for it to soften to cook easily, mention the chefs. 


2.    Next morning, drain the water and wash the lentils thoroughly till the water runs clear. If need be, rub the raw dal between your palms, says Kapur. It gives the cooked dal a rich red hue instead of turning completely black. 


3.    In addition to this, Chopra suggests you use some salt while washing the dal, this will help you rid of the colour. 

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4.    If you have the time and patience to, cook the dal on slow heat in a thick-bottomed pan instead of pressure cooking it. 


5.    Once the dal is cooked, add some more water, ginger-garlic paste, salt, red chilli powder, and tomato puree and cook it for another hour.  And then, for another half an hour with a generous dollop of butter. 


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6.    If possible, Kapur suggests you use fresh butter instead of the usual store-bought one. The former will give an interesting layer of flavour to your dish. 


7.    Chopra prefers to finish it with kasuri methi and garam masala. 


8.    Lastly, Kapur annotates: dal makhani generally tastes better the next day, so make it a day in advance if you can. 

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