Punjabi Black Lentils (Dal Makhani) with Oxtail

Punjabi Black Lentils (Dal Makhani) with Oxtail

Quick Overview:

Dal Makhani really needs to introduction, but since an introduction of sorts is warrant, I’ll begin by saying that this isn’t for anyone on any diet of any sort. It’s rich, creamy, buttery and perfect for the colder months that are fast approaching. Hailing from the north-western Punjab state of India, this dish was immortalised by 2 main restaurants – Moti Mahal and Bukhara (both in Delhi) and both sell copious amounts of the dish every day. I love it from time to time as it’s good enough to have as a meal on it’s own with just some rice or naan. On my autumn menus, I serve dal makhani as an accompaniment to grilled rib-eye steak and elevate it by putting in tender chunks of oxtail and using a handheld smoker to infuse some wood smoke into it. Of course, you can leave out the oxtail and the smoker and just enjoy it as it is, or go the extra mile and treat yourself and your guests to some unforgettably delicious dal makhani 2.0. Of course, if you’re vegetarian, do omit the oxtail altogether


  • 500g - chopped oxtail
  • 1 tsp - turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp - chilli powder
  • 4 tbsp - oil
Dal Makhani
  • 250g - black lentils (urid variety)
  • 2 litres - water
  • 4 tbsp - veg oil
  • 2 - black cardamom pods
  • 2 - green cardamom pods
  • 1 - bay leaf
  • 3-4 cloves - chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp - ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp - Kashmiri/mild chilli powder
  • 1.5 tbsp - salt
  • 200g - chopped onions
  • 2 tins - chopped tomato
  • 120 g - salted butter
  • 1 tbsp - dried fenugreek leaves (Kasoori methi)
  • 1 tsp - Garam masala
  • pinch - sugar
  • 60 ml - double cream
  • Pressure cooker
  • Large pot with lid
  • Polyscience smoking gun


  1. For the oxtail: Rub the spices into the oxtail and fry them until nicely coloured on all sides. Add the meat to the pressure cooker and cover with water. Cook under pressure for 50 minutes until tender and falling off the bone. If you don't have a pressure cooker, cover with water in a normal pot, bring to the boil and simmer gently for approx 2-3 hours until done. Once cooked, drain the water (but keep it) and pick the meat off the bones. Keep the meat and liquid aside (separately)
  2. For the lentils: If using a pressure cooker, cover the lentils with water and pressure cook for 30-35 minutes. If you don't have a pressure cooker, make sure the lentils have been soaked overnight before cooking in a pot (drain the lentils and cover with 2 litres water, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour)
  3. In another pan, heat the veg oil and fry the cardamoms and bay leaf, followed by the onions, salt and chopped garlic. Fry them on medium heat until golden.

    Drain the chopped tomatoes and keep the liquid. Add the pulp to the onions along with ginger-garlic paste and chilli powder. Fry on medium heat for another 10-15 minutes till caramelised and dark in colour. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them and add them to the onion-tomato mix. Fold in the picked oxtail and the oxtail liquor (if you're vegetarian, just use the water from the lentils), followed by the butter, cream, garam masala and crushed fenugreek leaves. Check for seasoning.
  4. Fill the smoking gun chamber with some wood chips and direct the nozzle into the pot of lentils and place a tight fitting lid on top. Fire up the wood chips and fill the pot with the wood smoke and cover with the lid for 15 minutes.

    Serve the lentils with some hot buttered naan or plain rice.