Indian Food Recipes

Instant pot Masoor dal (Easy Red lentils dal)

Make this easy and quick Instant pot masoor dal and enjoy a nourishing meal even on busy days. This vegan and gluten-free red lentil dal will be an ideal lunch or dinner.

red lentils dal in a bowl

Rice and dal is my favorite food combination, a staple in almost all Indian homes. I like to rotate my lentils and use all kinds of lentils in everyday cooking.

Though red lentils take less time to cook, Instant pot makes cooking much easier and hands-free.


masoor dal ingredients
  • Red lentils – In this recipe, I used split red lentils. To make this red lentil dal, you can also use whole red lentils (called football lentils). Brown lentils (whole masoor) will take longer to cook, so this recipe will not work.
  • Spices – This recipe uses everyday spices like red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and ground cumin. 
  • Aromatics – I used minced garlic and onions to flavor the lentil curry. You can use finely chopped ginger or ginger garlic paste as well.
  • Veggies – I used bottle gourd ( Calabash) while making this red lentil dal recipe. You can use other veggies of your choice.


  • Start the instant pot in saute mode. Add oil, cumin seeds, mustard, curry leaves, and minced garlic.
  • Once the cumin seeds start spluttering, add finely chopped onions and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Now add the chopped tomatoes and mix them well.
  • If you are using any veggies, add them now. I used chopped bottle gourd while making this recipe. Stir it well to avoid burning.
  • Now goes the spice powders – red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and salt.
  • Mix everything well and cook it for a couple of minutes.
  • Add rinsed red lentils.
  • Now add water to the Instant pot inner pot and deglaze the pot if required.
  • Stop the saute mode and start the Instant pot in manual or pressure cook mode and cook for 4 minutes on high pressure.
  • Once the Instant pot finishes cooking, wait for 5 to 10 minutes and carefully release the pressure. You can wait for a natural pressure release also.
  • Stir the red lentils and add leafy greens now if you are using them. 
  • Close the Instant pot and keep it aside for 10 minutes. The residual heat will cook the greens, or you can start the Instant pot in saute mode and cook the lentils for a couple of minutes. Skip this step if you are not using any leafy greens to make this Instant pot red lentils dal.
  • Garnish the red lentil dal with finely chopped cilantro leaves and a dash of lime juice. The delicious Instant pot red lentil dal is ready to serve with piping hot basmati rice or naan bread.

Stovetop instructions

  • Heat a deep-bottomed saute pan or cooking pot.
  • Once it is hot, add oil, cumin, mustard, chopped garlic, and curry leaves. You can skip the curry leaves if you do not have them.
  • Add finely chopped onions, tomatoes, spices, and salt. Mix it well.
  • Add rinsed lentils and water. Let it cook on medium flame until lentils turn soft. It will take around 15 to 20 minutes. As we use tomatoes, lentils take a little more time to cook. You can skip the tomatoes and add lemon juice at the end. The delicious red lentils dal is ready to enjoy.
red lentils dal with rice and salad in a bowl

Recipe Notes and Variations

  • Traditional dal doesn’t use coconut milk, but you can use a cup of coconut milk instead of water. Dal will have a coconut flavor and will be creamy and rich.
  • Instead of these spices, you can use curry powder to flavor the dal. You can also use garam masala powder to make it spicy.
  • If you like the red lentil dal to be spicier, you can add one slit green chili.
  • I like to sneak veggies into my dal. Any veggies like squash, carrots, green beans, ridge gourd, or bottle gourd taste good with this dal.
  • You can use leafy veggies also, but add them after the pressure cook step. Leafy veggies like spinach, amaranth, fenugreek, kale, and collard greens go well.
  • Along with lentil curry, you can cook white basmati rice using the pot-in-pot method. Add rice and water to a bowl and place it on the stand before the pressure cook step.
  • If you want to make this red lentil curry using a stovetop pressure cooker, follow the same steps as the Instant pot and cook the dal for one whistle (around 5 minutes).
  • For every 1 cup of lentils, I used 3 cups of water. If you like the thicker consistency dal, you can use 2.5 cups of water.
instant pot masoor dal in a bowl

Serving suggestions

Rice and dal is the best combination, and this red lentil dal will go very well with basmati rice or any flavored rice. Along with rice, this masoor dal will taste good with Indian flatbreads like naan bread, chapati, and paratha.

You can thin out this red lentil dal with thick coconut milk and serve it as lentil soup.

red lentils dal with rice and salad in a bowl

Storage & Meal prep

Usually, dal will be good at room temperature for about 10 to 12 hours (if it is not too hot!). And I typically store this masoor dal in the refrigerator for about two days and in the freezer for three months. However, I prefer freezing the plain red lentil dal in the freezer and adding tempering when needed.

In a 6-qt Instant pot, you can cook around 3 cups of red lentils. So when doing meal prep, freeze them in portion sizes. And when needed, take the required amount of dal, thaw it and use it immediately.

As you are here, you will like my other lentil recipes.

Spinach dal: An easy split pigeon peas lentils with spinach.

Instant pot lentil curry: Quick Instant pot brown lentil curry recipe with coconut milk and spinach.

Chickpea and lentil curry: Delicious lentils and chickpea curry with basic spices and aromatics.

Red lentil wraps: High protein, gluten-free wraps with red lentils that can be paired with sweet or savory fillings. 

Lentils and rice pilaf: Quick and easy one-pot lentils and rice pilaf.

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instant pot masoor dal in a bowl

Instant pot Masoor dal (Easy Red lentils dal)


Make this easy and quick Instant pot masoor dal and enjoy a nourishing meal even on busy days. This vegan and gluten-free red lentil dal will be an ideal lunch or dinner.