Transform your red lentils into something amazing with my creamy Instant Pot Lentil Dal. It makes a really easy, super tasty, healthy & budget friendly dinner and is perfect for meal prepping as it reheats and freezes perfectly!
Grab a few handfuls of lentils, some spices, and an Instant Pot and transform them into a pot of creamy, delicious Instant Pot Lentil Dal that’s economical, nutritious and will make your tastebuds dance!
In this post:
I've been a little obsessed with red lentils of late, what with this and my Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup. This recipe might actually seem familiar, and that's because it's an adapted version of my Red Lentil Dahl. It didn't need much changed to make it work really well in an Instant Pot. And as luck would have it, lots of you had Instant Pots for Christmas and have been asking for more Instant Pot recipes so how's this for timing.
But, if you don’t have an Instant Pot or other other electric pressure cooker, and you really want to make this recipe, hop on over to my original Red Lentil Dahl recipe and you will find detailed stove-top instructions.
How to make Instant Pot Lentil Dal
It really is so simple to make Instant Pot Lentil Dal and the results are absolutely fantastic. It's one of our favourite family meals.
Here is what you need:
And here is how it's done:
Step 1- Sauté the onions in the Instant Pot then add the ginger, garlic and spices
Step 2- Pour in some water and scrape the bottom of the pan well. Add lentils and tomatoes.
Step 3- Add coconut milk, then put the lid on, seal it and cook as directed in the full recipe below.
How to serve Dal
Pair this creamy and delicious Instant Pot Lentil Dal with:
- Fluffy rice
- Cauliflower rice
- Naan bread
- The Lime Slaw from my Enchilada Lentil Tacos recipe
A sprinkle of cilantro, some fresh chopped tomato and a few chopped peanuts or cashews over the top (like in my pics), really compliment it too and help to turn it from midweek dinner, into a posh treat yo'self (or someone else) kind of meal.
Instant Pot Lentil DalAuthor:
My Instant Pot is a 6 quart. If yours is a different size you will need to scale the recipe up or down accordingly.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil , or use water for sautéing to make the recipe oil-free
- 1 large onion , chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger , finely chopped or grated
- 2 heaping teaspoons garam masala
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes , add up to a teaspoon extra if you like it a spicy. You can use 1 fresh small red chili if you prefer
- 2 slightly heaping teaspoons ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons salt , plus more to taste at the end
- 1 teaspoons ground black pepper , plus more to taste at the end
- 740 mls / 3 cups + 1 tablespoon water
- 400g / 2 heaping cups dried split red lentils , (no need to soak)
- 3 large fresh tomatoes cut into chunks
- 1 400 ml / 13.5oz can / a little under 1¾ cup canned coconut milk , full fat or light
- Set the Instant Pot to sauté and add the oil or a few tablespoons of water. Sauté the onions for 3 to 4 minutes until they are just starting to turn golden, then add the ginger and garlic. Cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Turn off the Instant Pot then add all of the spices and seasonings. Allow them to cook in the residual heat of the pot for about 1 minutes, stirring them constantly.
- Add the water to the pot, and using a metal spoon, have a really good scrape into the bottom of the pot all over, to mostly remove the brown bits from the bottom. This step is important because otherwise you could get the "burn" message popping up on your display later.
- Next add the lentils, tomatoes and coconut milk. Don't stir it. Just leave it as it is.
- Put the lid on the Instant Pot, seal the vent and set it to MANUAL (PRESSURE COOK) on newer models, high pressure, for 8 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally. Remove the lid and give it a really good stir then serve.
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it by leaving a comment and rating below! And be sure to join my mailing list for more deliciousness!
I loved this recipe! It was spicier than I thought it would be but not too spicy. I had never used garam masala and made my own from a recipe I found for it, online. Delicious!
Anna Petursdottir says
My whole family LOVED this Dal! Served it with brown rice and mixed salad. Perfect! Thanks :)
I followed the red lentil dal recipe exactly. I got a burn message the first time it came to the timer (extremely rare with this pot) so took everything out, cleaned the pan completely and put the mix back in and the same thing happened. I've never before used a recipe that added the coconut milk during the cooking so assume this is the issue. Disappointing!
This recipe is so very satisfying and the flavours are delicious. I did run into the same issue with the Burn notice, too.
Reading the comments I decided to sauté first in a separate pan then add it to the IP with water, lentils, tomato and coconut milk. it was still preheating before I got the notice. I then scraped it down, poured into a bowl, washed out the IP, let it cool, added some more liquid and STILL got a burn notice. I ended up finishing it in the pot on the stove. Next time I think I will use your non-IP version of this recipe. It was delicious and hearty and my whole family enjoyed it.
I live at an altitude of 5600' - any recommendation/change regarding procedure?
Melanie McDonald says
I have no no experience of high altitude cooking so can't help I'm afraid.
Thomas Hitzler says
I followed the recipe and my lentils were very much under cooked. I discovered that; 1) my raw brown lentils take a longer time to cook, and 2) in general, lentils cook more slowly in an acidic mixture. I do rinse my lentils before cooking as instructed on the package. So, I cook my lentils from 20 - 24 minutes on HP with a 6-10 minute release and then I add the tomatoes and put the lid back on for a few minutes to heat the tomatoes. DO NOT EAT CHEWY, UNDER COOKED LENTILS. They are not good for your stomach. I do like this recipe a lot - very tasty. Thanks!
Melanie McDonald says
This recipe has not been tested with brown lentils. If you use split red lentils as called for in the ingredients list, and follow my directions, it will work perfectly.
The best Instant Pot recipe we've tried so far. Really delicious and worked perfectly with no issues. More IP recipes please!
Don't let the simplicity of the recipe fool you! It was so delicious that both of my young kids devoured it! I omitted the chili flakes, used a can of tomatoes (because I didn't have any fresh ones) and added some spinach in at the end. It was great on it's own, but you could make it a heavier meal with vegan sausage or crumbles. Thanks so much for the recipe! I'll be making it regularly :)
Hi, is it suppose to have that much ginger, it was too over powering with ginger. Otherwise I'd imagine it would taste good with half the ginger perhaps, will try that next time.
A Virtual Vegan says
Yes 2 tablespoons is correct. I've never found it over-powering and never had any other reports of that. You did use fresh ginger not dried and use a proper measuring spoon to measure it? Everyone's taste buds are different though and the recipe is very flexible though so you can easily decrease the amount next time if you prefer. Hope that helps!
Thanks for the reply. Yes it was fresh organic ginger and I even used a bit less than 2 tablespoons so maybe it was some extra potent ginger :-)
Great recipe and incredibly tasty. The only thing is I would have to agree with Giddy in that there is an excessive amount of fresh ginger. I would think perhaps 1 teaspoon of Ginger at the max Would be more appropriate. But that’s just me.
My husband and I thought this recipe made the best Dahl we’ve had! Even my picky 5 year old liked it ? the cooking process was super simple and quick. We’ll be making it again soon. Thanks!
Unfortunately, I have so far not had a good experience with this recipe. This is the first recipe from here that I've tried and I kept getting a burn notice on my instant pot.
I did make sure I scraped the bottom and deglazed properly and yet, burn notice. I stopped the cooking and scraped the bottom again and started cooking again, and yet again, burn notice. I did that one more time and yet again burn notice.
I decided to pour all of the food I could into a large bowl and thoroughly cleaned the inner pot, scrubbing it, and even added an additional cup of liquid just in case, and yet again, burn notice. I finally gave up and just poured everything into a pot onto my regular stove burner which was disappointing, but I didn't want it to go to waste.
Hopefully, next time I try it will work out. If you have any tips or ideas as to what may have happened, I would love some input since so many people have had a better result and your recipes sound amazing!
When I first started making recipes like this I almost always got a burn notice. Unlike you I did not do a good job scraping. Once I got that down I still got the burn notice. I think I solved it: I would measure and rinse the lentils early in the prep, and they would congeal into clumps. Now I measure them but rinse right before mixing them in with the liquid. No more burn notices with lentils at least.
I am having the same repeat issue unfortunately, not working for me at all.
WOW! This turned out amazing the first time! I stirred in chopped kale - that I had just picked from my garden - at the end of cooking time.
Recipe has been printed and laminated!!! Thank you!
A Virtual Vegan says
I'm really pleased you enjoyed it. Thank you for stopping by to leave a review/rating. It's much appreciated!