My Ginger Garlic Kitchen

Masoor Dal - Red Lentils (Instant Pot, Pressure Cooker, Pan)

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a man holding a red plate filled with masoor dal and rice

This simple, creamy, delicious, comforting and easy to make masoor dal (red lentils) is cooked in Instant Pot.

This inherently vegan, gluten-free, nut-free and soy-free dal has a creamy and melt-in-mouth texture and mouth-watering taste.

With this simple recipe, make this ridiculously easy, nutritious Instant Pot Masoor Dal at home, and it will surely become a new family favorite.

It makes a wonderful weeknight satisfying meal when served with some rice and roti or any other flatbread. This red lentil curry can also be served as a lentil soup along with some toasted bread.

This quick and easy masoor dal (red lentil stew) is cooked in an Instant pot, but can easily be made in a stovetop pressure cooker or pan.

When you want a quick, delicious, healthy and vegan dinner, this Instant Pot masoor dal comes to the rescue. It’s because with this recipe you can make comfy, and satisfying vegan meals in just under 35 minutes.

In most of the North Indian homes, lentils dishes are a staple. At least one serving of lentils and beans dishes in a day is a must in many homes. This is because many Indian families are vegetarians and lentils and beans are a good source of protein.

Indian households love all types of dals, and why not? They are so delicious, healthy and have many varieties. There is no such thing as too much of dal in India. :)

I grew up eating a wide variety of dals. In my family, everyday there were some kinds of dal and rice on the lunch menu along with roti and sabji.

There was no such rule that my Mom would only make Arhar (split pigeon pea) dal with rice, unlike most other families. That yellow dal is the most common dal served along with chawal (rice).

These dals (dal tadka, Chana Dal, urad dal, mix dal, chana dal patta gobi, chana dal lauki, moong dal, masoor dal, dal palak)were a frequent flyer at my home on weekdays. Whereas it was a different scenario over the weekends. On weekends my mom made either one of these; chana masala, mint chana, rajma masala, dal makhni, or lobia masala.

a hand sprinkling cilantro over masoor dal bowl

So my mom’s basic idea was to keep changing the dals so no one gets bored of it, and everyone gets to eat their favorite.

This Instant Pot Masoor Dal

✓ is so comforting and tastes great.

✓ is simple and easy to make.

✓ goes well with rice or any flatbread.

✓ makes an easy 30 minutes weeknight satisfying dinner.

✓ vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free.

✓ is light and easy on the stomach.

Why cook masoor dal in Instant Pot?

Making dal is a breeze if you are pressure cooking it. Because only boiling the dal takes time, and Instant Pot makes it much easier. The good thing about dal in Instant Pot is that everything gets cooked fast in one pot so there is less mess and cleanup is really easy.

One of my favorite dals to cook in Instant Pot is ‘Masoor Dal’. This is because it always turns out so creamy and flavorful without losing its authentic texture and taste — just the way you cook in a stove top pressure cooker. It never tastes bland, and is never gloppy when cooked with perfect timings. In fact it absorbs all the flavors and makes dal taste even more enticing.

What is Dal (lentils)?

Dal is a common word for lentils (legumes) in the Hindi language. Which is also pronounced as dhal, and dahl. In Indian cuisine, there are many different varieties of lentils that are used as a staple.

The most common dals are moong dal dhuli (split yellow moong lentils), moong dal chilka (split green moong lentils), toor or arhar dal (split pigeon pea), sabut moong dal (whole green moong beans), chana dal (split chickpeas), masoor dal (red lentils), urad dal dhuli (split skinned black lentils), urad dal chilka (split skin removed black lentils) and many more.

What is Masoor Dal (Red Lentil)?

Masoor dal is a Hindi name for red lentils. These are one of those lentils which are fast to cook and have a mild flavor. This mild flavor of these lentils make them perfect to cook with spicy masala and tadka. Because they absorb the deliciously spicy flavors so well.

instant pot masoor dal served in a dark blue bowl with some steamed rice

What are different types of masoor dal?

A basic masoor dal (red lentils) have many varieties such as:

  • Whole (sabut) masoor, is a whole version of dal which has a brown skin and has a nuttier taste when cooked.
  • Masoor Matki, is a smaller version of whole masoor dal which is also known as whole baby lentils.
  • Whole masoor lentils (Masoor dal gota), is the whole red lentil with the outer brown skin removed.
  • Split Masoor Dal, these are flat and skinned red lentils which have a bright orange color.

What are ingredients used in Masoor Dal?

Masoor dal is really creamy and tastes great when cooked with onion tomato masala. A final touch of second onion garlic tadka (tempering) takes it to the next level.

This deliciously tasting dal is made with some basic ingredients. You don’t really need some fancy spices or other ingredients to make this dal flavorful.

Here are the basic ingredients you’ll need to make Masoor Dal:

  • Masoor dal (red lentils)
  • Oil or ghee
  • Cumin seeds
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped ginger
  • Chopped garlic
  • Salt
  • Powdered spices (black pepper powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, kashmiri red chili powder, and garam masala powder)
  • Cilantro (coriander leaves)
  • Dried whole red chilies
  • Bay leaf (tej patta)
instant pot masoor dal tadka served in a red dish

How To Cook Masoor Dal In Instant Pot?

Rinse Dal. If using sabut (whole) masoor dal then soak it for 30 minutes. Skip the soaking time if using split red lentils. Press the saute button on the Instant Pot. Once it’s hot, add the oil and  cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Then add bay leaf and curry leaves and sauté for a few more seconds. Add chopped onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Stir often.

Then add the sliced red or green chili, chopped ginger, chopped garlic and mix well.

Sauté for 1 minute. Next, add black pepper powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, and salt. Mix everything well and cook for 1 minute.

Add chopped tomatoes and mix well. Also, deglaze the pot by scraping the bottom with a wooden spatula or spoon to make sure that there is nothing stuck at the bottom. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add masoor dal and mix well. Cook for another 2 minutes. This 2 minutes sautéeing with onion tomato masala makes dal more flavorful, so I would not recommend skipping this. Add water and give it a stir.

Close the pot with the lid. Press the manual or pressure cook button and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes with the pressure valve in the sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then open the lid. Give it a stir and add garam masala powder, and coriander leaves.

Next, make tadka (tempering). To make the tempering, in a small pan, heat ghee or oil. Add some cumin seeds and dried red chilies. Saute for a few seconds. Add chopped onions and sauté for 1 minute.

Add asafoetida and mix well. Add sliced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add Kashmiri red chili powder and mix well. Immediately turn off the heat.

Pour this hot tempering over the cooked dal and give it a mix. It would give a nice color flavor boost and a beautiful color. Alternatively, you can drizzle tadka for dal right before serving.

How to cook masoor dal in a stovetop pressure cooker?

The process of making this dal in stovetop Pressure Cooker is similar to the Instant Pot version. This is how you do it:

Simply heat oil in your pressure cooker and cook the onion-tomato masala as per the written recipe given in the recipe box on this page. Then add dal and water, and pressure cook for 1-2 whistles on high heat. Let the pressure cool off completely before opening the lid. Add garam masala powder and cilantro leaves. Mix well. Also, add the second tadka and your masoor dal is ready to serve.

Check out the full recipe in the recipe box.

How to cook red lentils in a saucepan?

The recipe for cooking in a stovetop pot is the same as instant pot. The only difference is in the cooking time. Instead of 10 minutes of high pressure, you cook it covered on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked completely. You can see the full recipe in the recipe box.

overhead shot of masoor dal

Variations for Masoor Dal:

Veggie Masoor Dal:

You can add some veggies to Masoor Dal while cooking. Sweet potato, spinach, kale, or broccoli go well with this dal. You can choose any of the veggies above. Just chop the veggies and add them to the cooker along with tomatoes. The rest of the recipe will be the same.

Coconut Masoor Dal:

This is a North Indian style Masoor Dal recipe. If you want to cook it South Indian way, then you can also add some coconut milk to this dal. This dal would be called Coconut Masoor Dal.

Ghee Masoor Dal:

I have cooked dal in vegetable oil, but you also use ghee (clarified butter), or butter. Ghee is usually added to dals because this certainly enhances the flavor of any lentil dish. So you can either add ghee or the combination of ghee or oil.

What to serve with masoor dal?

Like most of the Indian dals, this dal also goes with rice or any flatbread such as roti or paratha. You can serve this dal with plain steamed rice, brown rice, or even jeera rice. To make a comfy Indian meal, pair it with some hot roti, rice, sabji and raita. You can also serve this dal with quinoa or steel cut oats.

Here are some meal ideas to serve with Masoor Dal:

blue bowl of masoor dal garnished with some cilantro and onion slices

Can I Freeze Masoor Dal?

Yes, you can. To freeze, let the dal cool down completely before storing it in the freezer. Store it in a freezer safe airtight container and freeze it for upto 1 month. When you want to serve, simply thaw this dal at room temperature. Reheat in a pan or microwave. And simply pour the second tadka right before serving it.

Tips and tricks to make the best Masoor Dal:

  1. This dal is a restaurant-style masoor dal tadka, so I added a second tadka of onion and garlic. That second tadka at the end gives it that illuminating classic touch. But you can surely skip the second tadka if you want. The dal would still taste great. 
  2. If you want to skip the second tadka, then you can cook it this way; cook the dal first and then add onion tomato masala to the boiled dal. Throwing everything all together in an instant pot is the easiest way to cook it though. This way it saves time and tastes flavorful too.
  3. This dal gets thicker as it cools down, so make sure you keep the consistency on the slightly thinner side if you are planning to eat it later.
  4. You can also add some crushed or powdered kasuri methi to this dal to make it more flavorful.
  5. If you want to cook dal in oil and still want the rich flavor of ghee, then you can add a dollop of ghee at the end.
  6. If you want to make things faster in Instant Pot, then I would suggest you keep all the chopped ingredients handy. That way you just need to dump the ingredients.
  7. I have added some dried curry leaves to dal, but this is completely optional. If you are planning to add curry leaves, then add fresh curry leaves if you can find them. Fresh leave would enhance the flavor of your dal.
  8. I used a whole red lentil for this recipe. You can either use whole or split red lentils in this recipe.
  9. If using whole red lentils then make sure to soak the dal for at least 35 minutes. This would make the cooking process faster.
  10. Even if you are using split red lentils, make sure to rinse it a couple of times in order to get rid of any dust or impurities.
  11. I prefer to use Kashmiri red chili powder for onion tomato masala and tadka because it has a deep red color and it is mild in taste. So this adds a nice color and flavor to dal. You can easily replace Kashmiri red chili powder with red chili powder if you want it hotter.
overhead shot of masoor dal with rice

Instant Pot Masoor Dal - Red Lentils Curry [RECIPE]

This creamy, delicious and easy masoor dal (red lentils) is cooked in Instant Pot and stovetop. Best served with rice and roti. Ready under 35 minutes.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (Rating: 5 from 2 reviews)

INGREDIENTS

For Masoor Dal:

• 1 bay leaf (tej patta)
• 1 cup red lentils / Masoor Dal (whole or split)
• 1 large sized tomato, chopped
• 1 medium sized green or red chili pepper sliced, (optional)
• 1 medium sized onion, chopped
• 1 tablespoon garlic finely chopped or minced
• 1 tablespoon ginger finely chopped or minced
• 1 teaspoon coriander powder (Dhaniya powder)
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
• 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder (lal mirch powder), or to taste
• 1-2 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1.5 tablespoon oil/ghee
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder (kali mirch powder)
• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi powder)
• 1/4 teaspoon garam masala Powder
• 2 teaspoon chopped cilantro (coriander leaves) to garnish
• 4.5 cups water (you can reduce the amount if you want thicker dal)
• 5-6 curry leaves (optional)
• Salt to taste

For Tempering (Tadka):

• 1 tablespoon sliced garlic (lehsun)
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
• 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder
• 1.5 tablespoon oil/ghee
• 2 tablespoons chopped onions
• 3-4 small kashmiri dried red chilies (sukhi lal mirch)
• pinch of asafoeftida (hing)

🕐 Prep time 🕐 Cook time 🕐 Total time
☶ Category ♨ Cuisine ☺ Serves
Main Indian 5

Nutrition Info: 198 calories // Servings: 1 serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

How to make tadka (tempering):

  1. Heat ghee or oil in a pan.
  2. Add some cumin seeds and dried red chilies. Saute for a few seconds.
  3. Add chopped onions and sauté for 1 minute.
  4. Add asafoeftida and mix well.
  5. Add sliced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add Kashmiri red chili powder and mix well. Immidaitely turn off the heat.
  7. Pour this hot tempering over the cooked dal and give it a mix. It would give a nice color flvour boost and a beautiful color. Alternatively, you can Drizzle tadka over dal right before serving.

How to make masoor dal in instant pot:

  1. Rinse masoor dal If using sabut (whole) masoor dal then soak it for 30 minutes in 1/2 cup water. Skip the soaking time if using split red lentils.
  2. Press the saute button on the Instant Pot. Once it’s hot, add the oil and cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds.
  3. Then add bay leaf and curry leaves and sauté for a few more seconds.
  4. After that add chopped onions and sauté 2-3 minutes. Stir often.
  5. Then add the sliced red or green chili, chopped ginger, chopped garlic and mix well. Sauté for 1 minute.
  6. Next, add black pepper powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, and salt.
  7. Mix everything well and cook for 1 minute.
  8. Now add chopped tomatoes and mix well. Also de-glaze the pot by scrapping the bottom with a wodden spatula or spoon to make sure that there is nothing stuck at the bottom. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Add soaked masoor dal and mix well.
  10. Cook for another 2 minutes. This 2 minutes sautéeing with onion tomato masala makes dal more flavorful, so I would not recommoned skipping this.
  11. Add water and give it a stir.
  12. Close the pot with the lid. Press the manual or pressure cook button and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes, with the pressure valve in sealing position.
  13. After the instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally (NPR) for 10 minutes, then release the pressure manually and then open the lid.
  14. Give it a stir and add garam masala powder, and coriander leaves. Add lemon juice and stir well.
  15. Add prepared tadka to the cooked dal and give it a stir.
  16. Serve masoor dal hot with rice or roti.

How to make masoor dal in stovetop pressure cooker:

  1. Rinse masoor dal If using sabut (whole) masoor dal then soak it for 30 minutes in 1/2 cup water. Skip the soaking time if using split red lentils.
  2. Heat oil in a stovetop pressure cooker. Once it’s hot, add cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds.
  3. Then add bay leaf and curry leaves and sauté for a few more seconds.
  4. After that add chopped onions and sauté 2-3 minutes. Stir often.
  5. Then add the sliced red or green chili, chopped ginger, chopped garlic and mix well. Sauté for 1 minute.
  6. Next, add black pepper powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, and salt.
  7. Mix everything well and cook for 1 minute.
  8. Now add chopped tomatoes and mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Add soaked masoor dal and mix well.
  10. Cook for another 2 minutes. This 2 minutes sautéeing with onion tomato masala makes dal more flavorful, so I would not recommoned skipping this.
  11. Add water and stir well.
  12. Close the cooker with the lid, and pressure cook on high heat for 1-2 whistles.
  13. Let the pressure go down completely before opening the lid. Once pin drops, open the lid.
  14. Add garam masala powder, chopped coriander leaves and mix well again.
  15. Cook for 1 minute and turn off the heat. Drizzle with some lemon juice and stir well.
  16. Add prepared tadka to the cooked dal and give it a stir.
  17. Serve masoor dal hot with jeera rice and paratha.

How to make masoor dal in a saucepan:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium Heat.
  2. Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 30 seconds.
  3. Next add bay leaf and curry leaves and sizzle for 30 more seconds.
  4. Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Then add the sliced red or green chili, chopped ginger, chopped garlic and mix well. Sauté for 1 minute.
  6. Next, add black pepper powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, and salt.
  7. Mix everything well and cook for 1 minute.
  8. Now add chopped tomatoes and mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Add soaked masoor dal and mix well.
  10. Cook for another 2 minutes. This 2 minutes sautéeing with onion tomato masala makes dal more flavorful, so I would not recommoned skipping this.
  11. Add water and give it a stir. Let it come to a boil.
  12. Once, boiled, close with the lid and cook on medium-low heat or 20 minutes or until lentils are tender and soft. (Keep checking it in every 10 minutes, and add more water if required.)
  13. Add garam masala powder, coriander leaves and mix well again Cook for 1 minute.
  14. Turn off the heat and drizzle with some lemon juice and mix well.
  15. Pour tadka over dal and mix again.
  16. Serve hot dal with any rice or bread of your choice.

NOTES:

1. If you want to cook dal in oil and still want the rich flavor of ghee, then you can add a dollop of ghee at the end.
2. I used a whole red lentil for this recipe. You can either use whole or split red lentils in this recipe.
3. This dal is a restaurant-style masoor dal tadka, so I added a second tadka of onion and garlic. That second tadka at the end gives it that illuminating classic touch. But you can surely skip the second tadka if you want. The dal would still taste great.

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