Instant Pot Dal Recipe

5 from 1 vote

Make easy and comforting dal in your Instant Pot using this step by step recipe. Flavored with onions, tomatoes and everyday spices, this dal is like comfort in a bowl!

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Learn how to make a comforting bowl of dal using the Instant Pot! This recipe uses a basic base of onions & tomatoes, some spices and is finished with a tadka (tempering) of ghee and garlic for that extra flavor. There’s no soaking involved and it results in a creamy, flavorful dal which is best enjoyed over hot rice!

dal served in a copper kadai which is placed in a plate with boiled rice and pickled pearl onions served on the side

Dal is one of those things which I cook weekly in my kitchen. That is not surprising considering I grew up eating it every day of my life. When I first got married, I would always use my traditional pressure cooker to cook different types of dals just like my mom did back home in India. And the most common dal that I would cook would be a simple moong dal.

But after I was introduced to the Instant Pot (and even wrote a cookbook on it!), I never really looked back. I love the ease of using an Instant Pot to cook traditional Indian vegetarian food like saag paneer, aloo rasedar and much more. This basic Instant Pot dal is something that I like to whip up after a busy work day. It is comforting, cozy with all the warm spices and so hearty. I can literally have a bowl of this dal tadka with rice everyday!

Lentil Options

I have used a combination of masoor dal and moong dal for this recipe. But you can use 1 single lentil for this recipe or combine 2 like I did. Here are some of the dals that you use in this recipe:

  • Toor dal: The most common dal that I grew up eating and it works great in this recipe. You would use 1 cup of toor dal.
  • Moong dal: So, I have used moong dal in the recipe, but you can do just moong dal and use 1 cup of it.
  • Toor dal & moong dal: You can combine the two and make this dal.
  • Toor dal & masoor dal: Replace the masoor dal in the recipe with 1/2 cup toor dal.

How To Make Dal In Instant Pot

Wash and rinse 1/2 cup dhuli masoor dal (split red lentils) and 1/2 cup dhuli moong dal (split petite yellow lentils) and set them aside. Total weight of the dal combined is 200 grams.

Now, press the sauté button on your Instant Pot and once it displays hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil. I used avocado oil but you can use any oil of choice (preferably a neutral oil). Then add the following whole spices: 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/4-inch cinnamon stick, 2 green cardamoms and 2 whole cloves. Sauté the spices for 30 seconds until fragrant.

whole spices in instant pot

Then add 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of ginger garlic paste. Cook for around 45 seconds, stirring often.

ginger garlic paste with spices in instant pot

Now, add 1 chopped onion (large onion, around 160 grams) and 1 chopped green chili. Cook the onions for around 3 minutes until softened.

chopped onion with spices getting sauteed in instant pot

Then add 2 chopped tomatoes (medium tomatoes, around 180 grams). Cook the tomatoes for around 3 minutes.

chopped tomatoes in instant pot

And then add 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder and 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (this chili powder isn’t spicy, if you replace this with regular chili powder, your dal might become too spicy so keep that in mind). You may also add a little garam masala, I did not add any. Cook the spices for 30 seconds.

tomato masala with spices in instant pot

Add the rinsed dals to the instant pot and stir to combine with the masala.

a wooden spatula stirring lentils in an instant pot

Then add 3 cups of water (24 oz) and stir. Add 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste) and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder. Stir and mix until it is all well combined.

Close the lid and press the pressure cook/manual button. Cook on high pressure for 7 minutes with the pressure valve in the sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally.

hand closing the lid of the instant pot

Once the pressure is released (that is pressure valve drop down on its down), open the lid. Give the dal a stir, it will be thick at this point. I added 1/2 cup hot water at this point to adjust the consistency to my liking. You can add more water if you like.

cooked dal in a pot

To make the tadka, heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a small pan. Once hot, add 1/4 teaspoon of hing (asafoetida). Stir and then add 2 to 3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped).

chopped garlic in a small pan with ghee

Stir for 1 minute or so until the garlic starts to change color. Then add 1/4 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder, stir and remove the pan from heat.

red chili powder added to a tadka in a small pan

Transfer the tadka to the dal and give a good stir. Taste test and adjust salt at this point. Finish with 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro and 1/2 tablespoons crushed kasuri methi.

Serve the dal hot over boiled rice. That is my favorite combo!

tadka being added to a dal served in a copper kadai with a spoon

Storage & Reheating Instructions

Let the dal cool completely and then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consume within 3 days. You can also freeze the dal. If you are going to freeze this dal, skip the tadka. Let the dal cool completely and then transfer it to a freezer safe container and freeze for 2 to 3 months.

Dal becomes thick as it cools. To reheat, you can add some hot water while reheating to adjust the consistency of the dal. I like reheating the dal in a pot over medium heat but you can also reheat in a microwave. For frozen dal, thaw in the fridge overnight or put the freezer safe container (if it’s microwave safe as well) straight in the microwave and microwave in 2 minute increments until it’s completely thawed and ready to eat.

dal served in a copper kadai and garnished with cilantro

Manali’s Tips

  • You can adjust the spice level in this recipe according to taste. Add more green chilies and use regular chili powder in place of Kashmiri red chili powder if you prefer more heat.
  • To make this recipe vegan, use oil or vegan butter in place of ghee. The rest of the recipe is vegan as is.
  • I would recommend trying combinations of dal (listed above) or use only 1 dal to see which one you like best.
  • Personally, I love this dal with jeera rice but you can also serve it with quinoa, couscous or any grain of choice. You can even enjoy it with naan or roti!

Instant Pot Dal Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4
Make easy and comforting dal in your Instant Pot using this step by step recipe. Flavored with onions, tomatoes and everyday spices, this dal is like comfort in a bowl!

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup masoor dal dhuli split red lentils, 100 grams
  • ½ cup moong dal dhuli split petite yellow lentils, 100 grams
  • 1 tablespoon oil I used avocado oil, 15 ml
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 & ½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 large red onion finely chopped, 160 grams
  • 1 green chili finely chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped, 180 grams
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder this is not the hot variety, replace it with regular chili powder for heat
  • 3 & ½ cups water divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder

For the tadka

  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • ¼ teaspoon hing asafoetida
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder not this not the hot variety of chili powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro to garnish
  • ½ tablespoon kasuri methi crushed, dried fenugreek leaves
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Instructions 

  • Rinse both the lentils and set them side. Now, press the sauté button on your Instant Pot. Once it displays hot, add the oil and then add the while spices. Sauté the spices for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook for a minute and then add the chopped onion and green chili. Cook the onions for around 3 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Then add chopped tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes until they are slightly soft. Add coriander powder, Kashmiri red chili powder (this red chili powder isn't the hot one) and then cook the spices for 30 seconds. You may also add some garam masala if you like but I did not add any.
  • Add the lentils to the Instant Pot now and stir to combine it with the masala. Add water, salt and turmeric powder. Stir and then close the lid. Cook on high pressure for 7 minutes with the pressure valve in sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally.
  • Once the pressure is released, open the lid and give the dal a stir. Adjust salt and consistency of the dal at this point. Use more water to thin it out if you like.
  • To make the tadka, heat ghee in a small pan. Once hot, add hing and stir and then add chopped garlic and cook for a minute until it starts to change color. Then add Kashmiri red chili powder, stir and remove the pan from heat.
  • Pour tadka over the dal and stir. Add chopped cilantro and crushed kasuri methi to finish it off. Serve hot with rice!

Notes

  1. Adjust the consistency of dal according to preference. 
  2. I have used Kashmiri red chili powder in this recipe which doesn’t have much heat. If you use regular chili powder, this dal will be spicier so keep that in mind.

Nutrition

Calories: 271kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0.02g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 652mg, Potassium: 448mg, Fiber: 12g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 698IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 59mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
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Hi, I’m Manali!

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