Dishoom's House Black Daal in an Instant Pot recipe

Dishoom's black daal slow cooked in an Instant Pot
  1. Dishoom's black daal slow cooked in an Instant Pot
  2. Dishoom's black daal cooked in an Instant Pot

As soon as I got my Instant Pot (affiliate link) I knew I had to make Dishoom’s House Black Daal in it. A lot of Instant Pot Daal Makhani recipes involve sautéing onions, garlic and spices in the Instant Pot, then adding liquid and dry lentils, then pressure cooking. This makes sense but the original recipe in the Dishoom cookbook does things in a different order, instructing you to:

  1. Cook the lentils in a saucepan until soft (2-3 hours but this can take longer)
  2. Drain off the cooking liquid, top up with fresh water, add butter and an aromatic paste of ginger, garlic, tomato purée and spices
  3. Cook on a high heat for 30 minutes, simmer for 1-1½ hours, add cream, simmer for 15 minutes

I wanted to stay faithful to the recipe but use the Instant Pot to speed things up so I opted to:

  1. Cook the lentils in an Instant Pot on high pressure for 30 minutes (water filled to halfway in the 5.7 litre/6 quart pot), then Quick Release the pressure
  2. Drain off the cooking liquid, add 1½ cups (375ml) of water and the aromatic paste, pressure cook on high for 10 minutes
  3. Stir in the cream and butter (the butter probably should have been added along with the paste in step 2), sauté on level 2 for 10 minutes

The second photograph shows how it turned out. It tasted good but was unsurprisingly different to the version cooked on a hob and it was fairly thick as I only added 1½ cups (375ml) of water. The Instant Pot does a fantastic job of cooking the black lentils and I only soaked them for 10 minutes beforehand. I’ve never managed to achieve such soft, creamy lentils in a saucepan, even after soaking them for 24 hours. However, pressure cooking the paste and lentils together can’t rival the longer, slower cooking method so this daal ends up lighter in colour.

If time permits I’d recommend using the Instant Pot to cook the lentils, then briefly sauté the paste, add the cooked lentils and fresh water back in, then slow cook the daal to achieve that wonderful deep colour and flavour.

Dishoom’s house black daal is famous for good reason and it’s a dish where time and effort reap great rewards. The Instant Pot decreases the cooking time and effort but at the expense of some of the depth and flavour. Slow cooking the daal bumps the cooking time back up but is mostly hands off and results in a dish that’s closer to the original recipe.

In my mind there are now four versions of Dishoom’s House Black Daal:

  • The restaurant version cooked over 24 hours. A heavenly daal with unparalleled flavour - the colour is a deep, dark, brick red. The original and best.
  • The cookbook version for home cooks. Roughly 5½ hours cooking time. Delicious but less depth of colour than the restaurant version due to the tomato paste only cooking for around 2 hours.
  • Instant Pot version 1 (second photo), which takes about an hour to cook and involves two lots of pressure cooking and some sautéing at the end. The finished daal is a light, golden brown.
  • Instant Pot version 2 (first photo). Involves pressure cooking the lentils, a brief sauté, then slow cooking the daal. 5 hours minimum but mostly hands off. My favourite method (instructions below). 
Recipe credit

Dishoom: From Bombay with Love (affiliate link)

Ingredients

Serves: 8

  • 300g whole black urad daal
  • 12g garlic paste
  • 10g ginger paste
  • 70g tomato purée
  • 8g fine sea salt
  • ⅔ tsp deggi mirch chilli powder (or ⅓ tsp normal chilli powder)
  • ⅓ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 90ml double cream
  • a few sprigs of coriander (optional)

Method

  1. Thoroughly wash 300g of black lentils (whole black urad daal) and soak in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain the lentils then add them to the Instant Pot (mine is 5.7 litres/6 quart). Fill with cold water to the halfway point. Pressure cook on high for 30 minutes.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, mix 12g of garlic paste, 10g of ginger paste, 70g of tomato purée, 8g of salt, ⅔ teaspoon of chilli powder and ⅓ teaspoon of garam masala in a small bowl.
  3. When the lentils are done, Quick Release the pressure and drain the lentils. Rinse the inner pot and place it back into the Instant Pot. Select ‘sauté’ ‘level 2’ for 5 minutes, add a drizzle of vegetable oil to the pot and add the paste, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn.
  4. Once the 5 minutes are up, add the cooked lentils, 90g of unsalted butter and 2 cups (500ml) of cold water into the Instant Pot. Select the 'slow cook' ‘low’ function for 4-6 hours (6 if possible). Keep an eye on the lentils for the first 10-15 minutes as the heat from the sauté function can make the lentils catch on the bottom of the pot. After 10 minutes or so the temperature should stabilise and the lentils won’t catch.
  5. When there are 30 minutes left on the Instant Pot timer, add 90ml of double cream to the daal and stir. Once the daal has finished cooking, turn off the Instant Pot, pour the daal into bowls, top with a few coriander sprigs (optional) and serve with warm naan or paratha. 

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