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Instant Pot Dal (Indian Dal Fry Recipe)



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A simple instant pot dal is an easy, healthy and delicious weeknight dinner! Made with cauliflower, diced tomatoes, carrots, bell pepper, moong dal, and Indian spices, its a nutritious dish with only 25 minutes of hands on time. Family-friendly and a one pot meal!

instant pot dal in a stainless steel bowl with a dollop of yogurt on top

Omg you guys, I am obsessed with my Instant Pot. I use it at least once a week (sometimes more) and it has made making healthy meals for dinner so much easier! It’s never more than 20 minutes of active time, and then I literally just set and forget. It’s fantastic.

We eat Indian food fairly often, and one meal that’s a classic is dal with sabji (or sautéed vegetables). Since I got the instant pot, I have realized that I can make a dal-inspired lentil stew with veggies added in! Talk about a great one pot meal with almost no cleanup.

When I’m making this Instant Pot Dal, I like to throw in any leftover veggies I have in the fridge. On this particular day, I had cauliflower, bell peppers, and carrots – but you can throw in just about any combination of vegetables you like.

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This healthy vegetarian Indian recipe was a hit with my whole family! You can make this easy recipe without an instant pot, but it’s just so much easier with one when you don’t have to sit there watching your lentils cook on the stove.

This yummy Indian dal “stew” is nutritious and delicious, vegetarian (and vegan) and freezes really well too – it’s the perfect recipe for meal prep and batch cooking!

I like to call it my “superfood” dal because of all the great vegetables I end up adding to it (there’s always one cruciferous veggie and oftentimes either spinach or kale that I’ll throw in too).

It’s packed with protein, gluten-free, vegan friendly, keeps you full forever, and tastes so good you won’t even realize it’s good for you!

👩🏽‍🍳 Why This Recipe Works

  • Healthy and Nutritious
  • Vegetarian and Vegan
  • Gluten-Free
  • Rich and Creamy
  • Only 25 Minutes Hands On Time
  • Packed with Plant Protein
  • Warm and Comforting

🥘 Ingredients

recipe ingredients - lentils tomatoes peppers water spices onions cauliflower carrots ginger garlic salt

Coconut Oil: For sauteeing the spices and onions prior to sealing your instant pot. You can also use olive oil.

Moong Dal: There are so many types of lentils you can use to make dal. I use Moong Dal for this recipe because it cooks down really well and becomes super creamy, but you can use any kind of dal you like! Moong dal is a split legume that is yellow in color. It is commonly used in Indian cuisine. They are extremely nutritious and easy to digest. Other yellow lentils that will work well are: chana dal or yellow split peas.

Vegetables: When making this recipe I used the extra veggies that I had in the fridge. This included carrots, cauliflower, bell pepper, diced tomatoes, onion, ginger and garlic. However, you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. I often like to finish it off by adding fresh spinach or kale! Note: At Indian grocery stores you can find a pre-made ginger garlic paste, which will also work in this recipe instead of the fresh ginger + garlic. It will also save you some prep time!

Indian Spices: The depth of flavor from this dish comes from the assortment of Indian spices (both whole spices and ground spices). These include mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing, cayenne pepper, turmeric powder, and curry powder. For curry powder, I absolutely love Simply Organic’s Curry Powder – it has the perfect balance of heat and warm spices and gives the dal complexity of flavor. To make this dal spicier, you can add some diced green chilies, red chili powder, or crushed red pepper flakes.

🍽 Equipment

🔪 Instructions

Follow these step by step photos to make the perfect Instant Pot Dal every time!

Sauté Your Vegetables: Turn your instant pot to saute mode on high. Heat oil, then add cumin seeds & mustard seeds and cook 30 seconds until they pop. Add 1 more tsp coconut oil, and then add in onion, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is cooked through and translucent.

tomatoes cooking with onions and spices in the pot

Combine Rest of the Ingredients: Add the moong dal, 3 cups of water, cauliflower, baby carrots, bell pepper, and all of the remaining spices. Hit the “Cancel” button. Stir to combine.

all ingredients added to instant pot

Cook Dal: Cover the Instant Pot with the lid, and make sure the pressure valve is closed. Cook on high pressure, and set the cooking time to 15 minutes. Natural release the remaining pressure before opening. Stir and add water until the consistency of dal suits your preferences!

Optional: Add chopped fresh cilantro when the cooked dal is complete!

lentils and vegetables cooking in the instant pot

❓Recipe FAQs

How long does it take to cook lentils in the instant pot?

Depending on the type of lentil you are using, the time it will take will vary. Smaller lentils, such as moong dal, or red lentils will only need about 15 minutes of cooking time. Whereas brown lentils, black lentils, or green lentils will take about 20 minutes.

What is dal?

Dal is considered both an ingredient and a dish. As an ingredient it is a split legume. There are numerous varieties, and the type of dal used in Indian recipes largely depends on the region of India. Toor dal, and moong dal is common in south India. Chana dal is common in the North. They come in a variety of colors, from yellow, orange, green, and brown. As a recipe, dal is meant to indicate the creamy dish that includes the legume, along with spices, and often with added vegetables. Dal is a staple in Indian cooking and is often served for dinner with a variety of sides and vegetables.

How do you make dal on the stovetop?

To prepare this recipe on the stove top, you will follow the same instructions, in the recipe using a large pot. First sauté the cumin and mustard seeds in coconut oil over high heat until they pop (about 30 seconds).
Then add the onions, garlic, and tomatoes and reduce to medium heat. Sauté until translucent.
Add the dal, spices, vegetables and water. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the consistency of the dal is thick and creamy.

Is this recipe kid friendly?

Yes, this delicious recipe is kid friendly! It’s light and mildly spiced, with hidden veggies! It’s full of flavor but not too hot for little palates. When making this for kids, I typically omit the cayenne. Your kids will enjoy it served over rice or with tortillas on the side. Add a bit of cashews for more texture!

What makes this dal recipe healthy?

High in Protein and Fiber: One generous serving of this dal contains 8 grams of plant protein and 6.5 grams of fiber. Lentils are 25% protein, making them an excellent meat substitute. If you serve it with plain nonfat Greek yogurt, you’ll add more protein, and a cool creaminess!
Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: Lentils are rich in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Iron is often lacking in vegan and vegetarian diets, so adding lentils to your diet helps to improve iron levels.
Low in Calories and Fat: One serving is only 135 calories, and 2 grams of fat, making this a heart healthy dish!

Instant Pot Dal (Indian Dal Fry Recipe)

🧊 How to Store

  • Refrigerator: Allow the leftover dal to cool completely. Transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Freezer: Allow the dal to cool completely. Transfer to an airtight freezer safe container. Make sure to remove any air in the container before sealing. Label with date and contents. The dal will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months.
  • Reheat: When ready to reheat from the freezer, transfer to the refrigerator to defrost overnight. Place in a microwave safe glass container. Lightly cover. Warm on high until heated through, stirring every 1-2 minutes until warmed to desired temperature.

👪 Serving Suggestions

Traditionally, dal is served with basmati rice (which is a type of white rice) or naan bread. For more whole grains, I recommend serving this Instant Pot Dal with warm sprouted wheat tortillas, quinoa or brown rice.

For toppings, try some fresh cilantro or coriander leaves, a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of coconut milk yogurt, or a dollop of plain Greek yogurt for some extra protein. I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!

💭 Expert Tips for Using the Instant Pot

  • Use the sauté function to cook the spices and onions/garlic/ginger prior to adding the water and dal.
  • For added flavor use vegetable stock instead of water.
  • Adjust the temperature as needed when you select the sauté function. You can adjust the temperature to avoid burning the vegetables.
  • The instant pot cooks food quickly. This can run the risk of overcooking your dal. Stick to the times mentioned in the recipe for best results.
  • Save yourself some clean-up time, and place the parts of your Instant Pot in the dishwasher to clean and sanitize.
instant pot dal in a stainless steel bowl with a dollop of yogurt on top

🍲 More Instant Pot Recipes!

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📋 Recipe Card

Instant Pot Dal

A simple instant pot dal is an easy, healthy and delicious weeknight dinner! Made with cauliflower, diced tomatoes, carrots, bell pepper, moong dal, and Indian spices, its a nutritious meal with only 25 minutes of hands on time. Family-friendly and a one pot meal!

Prep Time25 mins

Cook Time15 mins

Total Time40 mins

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Indian

Servings: 8 servings

Calories: 135kcal

  • Turn your instant pot to saute on high

  • Add 1 tsp coconut oil and let the oil warm up. Add cumin seeds & mustard seeds and cook 30 seconds until they pop. Add 1 more tsp coconut oil, and then add in onion, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is cooked through and translucent.

  • Then add the remaining ingredients (Moong dal through water) and hit the “Cancel” button. Mix to combine.

  • Cover the Instant Pot with the lid, and make sure the pressure valve is closed. Pressure Cook on High and set the cooking time to 15 minutes. Allow for natural release before opening.

  • Optional: Add chopped fresh cilantro when cooking is complete!

  • Use the sauté function to cook the spices and onions/garlic/ginger prior to adding the water and dal.
  • For added flavor use vegetable stock instead of water.
  • Adjust the temperature as needed when you select the sauté function. You can adjust the temperature to avoid burning the vegetables.
  • The instant pot cooks food quickly. This can run the risk of overcooking your dal. Stick to the times mentioned in the recipe for best results.
  • Save yourself some clean-up time, and place the parts of your Instant Pot in the dishwasher to clean and sanitize.

Calories: 135kcal | Carbohydrates: 23.3g | Protein: 7.8g | Fat: 2.4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 414mg | Fiber: 6.5g | Sugar: 6.1g





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