Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot}

Make a big batch of this vegan Red Lentil Dal in your Instant Pot and enjoy it for meatless lunches and dinners the rest of the week. So easy to make!
Red lentil dal in a brass bowl, with an Instant Pot in the background.

Red lentil dal in a brass bowl, with an Instant Pot in the background.

When I first bought an Instant Pot, my initial cooking goal was to make a killer red lentil dal. A year and half later, after many batches of Instant Pot Lentil Soup, chicken stew and vegetarian chili, I finally got around to making my first pressure cooker dal recipe.

These Indian spiced lentils, also known as masoor dal, are a breeze to make, particularly with my “cheat” ingredient (store-bought curry paste). The leftovers keep well in the fridge, making them the perfect make-ahead option for quick vegan meals throughout the week. Just add a little extra vegetable broth when reheating.

What is lentil dal?

  • Dal, also known as dhal, dahl or daal, refers to both the main ingredient and the dish itself.
  • The ingredient is a type of split pea or a certain type of lentil. The dish is a spiced dish that is simmered for a long time until the peas or lentils become very soft.
  • There is a huge range of dals, depending on the main ingredient. For example, this version is made of split red lentils, also know as masoor dal. Other examples are urad dal (black lentils), toor dal (pigeon peas) and channa dal (chipckpeas).
  • Split red lentils can be found in some grocery stores, in Indian markets and on Amazon (affiliate link).

Hand holding red lentils, hovering over an Instant Pot half filled with broth and spices

Hand holding red lentils, hovering over an Instant Pot half filled with broth and spices

How to make red lentil dal in an Instant Pot:

  • The Instant Pot (affiliate link) and other pressure cookers are ideal for cooking dried pulses of any kind, ranging from split peas to black beans. They cook at high pressure, breaking down and cooking the pulses quickly, often eliminating the need for pre-soaking.
  • In this recipe, I set the Instant Pot to the Sauté setting, then cooked some onion, fresh ginger, garlic, spices and curry paste (affiliate) in some ghee or coconut oil.
  • Is curry paste necessary for making a dal? Absolutely not. Traditionally, dals are made with a variety of spices. Curry paste is my “cheat” for making this recipe extra speedy to put together.
  • Next, the coconut milk and vegetable broth are whisked with curry paste mixture, then the red lentils are added.
  • Using the Manual setting, cook the dal at high pressure for 8 minutes. Because of the amount of liquid in this recipe, it will take about 20 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure.
  • Release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes, then switch to quick release.
  • Serve right away with basmati rice and chutney, if desired. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. When reheating, you may need to add some additional vegetable broth to loosen up the mixture.

Make a big batch of this vegan Instant Pot Lentil Dal and enjoy it for meatless lunches and dinners the rest of the week. 177 calories and 2 Weight Watchers Freestyle SP

Make a big batch of this vegan Instant Pot Lentil Dal and enjoy it for meatless lunches and dinners the rest of the week. 177 calories and 2 Weight Watchers Freestyle SP

Are red lentils good for you?

  • Lentils are little powerhouses of nutrition! One cup of cooked red lentils contains 230 calories. And believe me, one cup will leave you feeling very satisfied.
  • Each cup of cooked lentils contains about 18 grams of protein, making them a fantastic option for vegetarian and vegan diets.
  • They are rich in fiber, folate, iron and manganese.

How to serve the leftovers:

When made ahead and stored in the refrigerator, the dal will stiffen up. Stir in additional vegetable broth when reheating to re-constitute the dal. I either reheat in a saucepan on the stovetop or in a glass bowl in the microwave.

Two brass bowls with handles, fill with red lentil dal and rice. Resting on a gray napkin.

Two brass bowls with handles, fill with red lentil dal and rice. Resting on a gray napkin.

Other vegan Instant Pot recipes:

Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili {Cookin’ Canuck}
Instant Pot Mushroom Soup {Cookin’ Canuck}
Instant Pot Quinoa Burrito Bowls {Detoxinista}
Instant Pot Lo Mein {Slap Dash Mom}

Instagram-buttonInstagram-button If you make this recipe, I’d love to see it on Instagram! Just use the hashtag #COOKINCANUCK and tag me at @cookincanuck and I’ll be sure to find it.

Red lentil dal in a brass bowl, with an Instant Pot in the background.Red lentil dal in a brass bowl, with an Instant Pot in the background.

Red Lentil Dal {Instant Pot}

Make a big batch of this vegan Red Lentil Dal in your Instant Pot and enjoy it for meatless lunches and dinners the rest of the week. So easy to make!

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Course: Entrees

Cuisine: Indian

Keyword: Gluten Free, Instant Pot, Pressure Cooker, Vegan, Vegetarian

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Pressure & Release time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 43 minutes

Servings: 8 Cups

Calories: 177kcal

Instructions

  • Set the Instant Pot to the Saute setting. Heat the ghee or coconut oil. Add the onion and ginger. Cook, stirring, until the onion softens, 3 to 4 minutes.

  • Add the garlic, curry paste, coriander and cumin, and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the Instant Pot.

  • Whisk in the coconut milk and vegetable broth, then stir in the red lentils.

  • Put the lid on the Instant Pot, close the steam vent and set to HIGH pressure using the Manual or Pressure Cook setting. Set the time to 8 minutes. It will take about 20 minutes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure.

  • Once the time is expired, wait for 10 minutes (natural release), then carefully use the quick release valve to release the remaining pressure.

  • Season with salt, to taste.

  • Serve or store in the fridge.

Notes

Weight Watchers Points: 2 (Freestyle SmartPoints), 5 (Old SmartPoints), 4 (Points+)

*The nutritional information was calculated using ghee, but it is nearly identical (and Weight Watchers Points are the same) when coconut oil is used.

**For a spicier dal, use spicy curry paste or add some cayenne pepper.

If making ahead and storing in the refrigerator, the dal will stiffen up. Stir in additional vegetable broth when reheating to re-constitute the dal.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.66Cup | Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 25.3g | Protein: 9.9g | Fat: 4.3g | Saturated Fat: 2.2g | Cholesterol: 1.7mg | Sodium: 85mg | Fiber: 6.9g | Sugar: 2.7g


Tried this recipe?If you make this recipe, I’d love to see it on Instagram! Just use the hashtag #COOKINCANUCK and I’ll be sure to find it.

This post was originally published on February 27, 2018 and updated on December 2, 2020.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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