The capital city is home to several spots that specialise in North Indian cuisine. We’re journeying through Delhi to find restaurants that serve the best dal makhani. By Eshita Srinivas
At the heart of things, dal makhni is a simple blend of black lentils, tomatoes, red kidney beans, and spices. However, with the addition of cream and butter, the blend transforms into the most decadent bowl of food. Naturally, it’s one of the most beloved dishes in the country.
Dal makhani’s origin story is shrouded in mystery. However, a popular theory goes back to the 40s, when Kundan Lal Gujral of migrated to Delhi from Peshawar and established the Moti Mahal Restaurant in the city. Back then, the most popular feature on the menu was their Peshwari black whole urad dal, which was served alongside rotis. Later, Gujral added cream and tomatoes (instead of yoghurt for souring) to the mix, creating a dense, flavourful dal that was an instant hit.
Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a North Indian restaurant across the country that doesn’t feature this delicacy. That said, for the most decadent bite, there’s no better place to head to than the place where it all began. We’ve listed out a set of restaurants in Delhi that serve the most delicious dal makhni.
Where to find the best dal makhani in Delhi
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The place that started it all, Moti Mahal is as old as independent India and the restaurant is reminiscent of those times, both in terms of its food and decor. The menu’s most recommended features include the dahi mutton, achari chicken, kadhai mushroom, rumali roti, and tandoori chicken.
However, a visit here would be incomplete without sampling the delicacy that they claim to have invented – dal makhani. Your bowl of this dish will include a blend of lentils that were cooked steadily over embers from the tandoor overnight. The spices and butter further enrich the intense, well-developed flavours of the delicacy and are best enjoyed with their garlic, butter, or barwan naan.
Address: 3703, Netaji Subhash Marg, Daryaganj, New Delhi
Contact: +91 90135 25539
This is another place that’s by Kundan Lal – the man credited with the invention of dal makhani. Daryaganj is a brick-lined polished space that’s known to serve some of the best Punjabi fare in the city. Recommended off the menu are the butter paneer bowl, tandoori fruit chaat, kurkure mushroom, and chicken pakora.
Their dal makhani, along with the butter chicken, is wildly popular and uses the original 1947 recipe, which includes slow-simmered lentils and beans, fresh pureed tomatoes, dry fenugreek leaves, and butter. Have it with their assorted bread basket and a tall glass of thandai.
Address: Hanuman Road Area, Regal Building, Connaught Circle, Connaught Place, New Delhi
Contact: +91 93551 11947
One of the most popular restaurants for North Indian fare in the city, Gulati’s got a loyal fanbase of foodies. Booth seating meets laid back ambience and classic delicacies here. On the menu are options like neza kebab, paneer gilafi, malai kofta, methi paneer, handi gosht, shahi veg platter, and more.
Their butter chicken and kakori kebab come highly recommended. As is the dal makhani, which is the chef’s speciality and features black lentils that are gently cooked overnight in a tandoor before being topped with cream and butter. Flavourful, indulgent, and cooked to perfection, the recipes are traditional and will leave you feeling satisfied. Pair your dal with their garlic or butter naan to really elevate your dining experience.
Address: 6, Pandara Road Market, New Delhi
Contact: +91 11237 82949
One of the most popular restaurants in the city for North Indian fare, Bukhara offers scrumptious tandoor-cooked delicacies. Popular off the menu are the meat masala, chicken khurchan, onion kulcha, and jumbo prawns. However, it’s their dal bukhara that’s the talk of the town. Although it doesn’t technically qualify as dal makhani due to the lack of red kidney beans, the place is near synonymous with the delicacy amongst locals and has a cult-like following.
A steaming bowl of this dal features the fusion of black lentils, tomato, ginger, and garlic that’s simmered on a slow charcoal fire overnight to allow the flavours to really develop. Cream and unsalted butter add flourish and creaminess to the dish. Dig in with a bite of their sikanderi naan and end your meal with the phirni. Fine dining has never been this delicious!
Address: ITC Maurya, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi
Contact: +91 11261 12233
This restaurant offers the quintessential elevated dining experience, with a fusion of traditional and modern sensibilities in both their decor and menu. Recommended here are the reshmi murgh, smoked raara gosht, Rajasthani laal maas, paneer lollipop, and dahi ke kebab.
Their dal dugani makhani is a classic blend of black lentils, tomato, and cream and has a distinct flavour of anardana masala. Creamy, mildly spicy, and jam packed with flavour, the dal is quite addictive and a must-try. Have several servings with their kandhari or butter naan and don’t forget to dig into their tiramisu before you wrap up your meal.
Address: 3, Hargovind Enclave, Karkardooma, New Delhi
Contact: +91 73032 30287
Another fine-dining establishment that specialises in North Indian fare, Zaffran’s glass walls and stunning views draw scores of diners to their doors every day. But it’s their food that makes them stay. Popular on the menu are the kebabs, mahi fish, paneer akbari, paneer kundan kaliyan, chicken boti masala, and jhoomta kukkad.
The dal makhani has its own following and stays true to the original recipe by simmering black lentils on a slow charcoal fire before adding in cream and butter. The flavour is decadent and just spicy enough, pairing well with their Peshawari naan. Delicious!
Address: D-26/28, Hotel Palace Heights, Connaught Place, New Delhi
Contact: +91 11435 82610
An icon in its own right, United Coffee House in the heart of the city serves European, Indian, and Asian delicacies. The fine-dining establishment has a distinctive colonial-era air to it. On the menu are delicacies like badshahi kofta, chicken ala kiev, lahori meat, kala jaam, lamb kebab platter, cona coffee, and more. Many recipes even date back to the 30s and 70s. Their dal makhani is one of the most popular dishes on the menu and is creamy and jam-packed with flavour. It pairs well with their zaitooni naan and khurmi naan. Don’t forget to try the kala jamun while you’re here.
Address: E-15, Connaught Place, New Delhi
Contact: +91 11234 16075
This quaint restaurant in the city offers dhaba-like, vegetarian fare. It’s always packed with diners, which is a testimony to the flavourful food they serve up. Recommended here are the Amritsari thaali, gobhi ka paratha, and kadhai paneer. However, a meal here is incomplete without their creamy dal makhani, which is a flavourful blend of lentils, beans, and cream.
The surprisingly large amount of butter in their dal adds a certain decadence to the dish, which pairs well with their giant dhuandaar naan, aloo pyaaz naan, and paneer naan. Between the large portions and generous additions of all things indulgent, your meal here promises to be satisfying. End it on a sweet note with their falooda.
Address: 654 666, Fatehpuri, Church Mission Road, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi
Contact: +91 11435 52754