Instant Pot Dal comes together with minimal effort with the help of your electric pressure cooker. These delicious bowls of dal are topped with quick-pickled red onion and tangy yogurt for an unforgettable, vegetarian meal that’s perfect for Meatless Monday or any day of the week.
Growing up, my dad was a vegetarian, and I fondly remember eating Indian food with him. One of the first dishes he introduced me to, and my favorite still to this day is dal (or dahl). The versions of dal that I’ve eaten in the past have always been made with lentils – green, red, or yellow – but I recently came across a recipe on Bon Apetit that used split peas. And, since I had some split peas on hand from this recipe, I decided that I had to try it right away.
I did make a few tweaks to the original recipe, however. Their original recipe called for yellow split peas. I only had the traditional green variety on hand, so I swapped those in. I also adapted the recipe so that it could be made in my Instant Pot – I just love how easy, and hands off the Instant Pot makes the process, so you’ll pretty much find me using it whenever I can.
As with other Instant Pot recipes I’ve tested, I find that when cooked in the Instant Pot, the spices become a bit less noticeable, so I amped up the spices in this Instant Pot Dal a bit too – adding in a good dash of my favorite spice, cumin, and a pinch of cayenne for some heat. Of course, if you’re sensitive to heat, you can always cut back on the cayenne, but I did not find it to be very spicy at all. If you are a fan of heat, definitely feel free to add in a bit more. You can even adjust the heat at the end of the cooking process.
While this Instant Pot Dal takes just 15 minutes of cooking time, you will also need to account for the time it takes for the pressure to build and release in the Instant Pot. When I tested this recipe, it took about 15 minutes for the pressure to build, and then I let the pressure release naturally at the end of the cooking time for 10 minutes too – So, overall (with prep time) this recipe should take you about 45 minutes from start to finish.
But my favorite part is that because the Instant Pot makes the cooking process so hands off (no stirring or babysitting the pot) it leaves you plenty of time to prepare the toppings and rice that you’ll want when serving up the dal.
The topping are simple – but stunning. A bit of quick-pickled red onion makes an amazing contrast with the otherwise boring looking dal. To make them, just thin slice some red onion and give it a quick massage with a bit of lime juice, lime zest and some salt and sugar. These onions are so good and so easy, they make just replace my traditional pickled red onions.
To add a bit more tang and creaminess, a swirl of salt and pepper seasoned Greek yogurt gets stirred in at the end too.
Serve it all up on a bed of basmati rice and prepare to be wowed by this vegetarian dinner. You’ll not only want it for Meatless Monday, but every day of the week. PS – This Instant Pot Dal can also be made totally vegan if you just omit the yogurt.
If you loved this Instant Pot Dal I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
More lentil recipes:
- Instant Pot Cheesy Southwestern Lentils & Brown Rice
- Hearty Sausage, Kale & Lentil Soup
- Slow Cooker Chipotle Lentil Soup
More Instant Pot recipes:
- Instant Pot Refried Beans
- Instant Pot Corn on the Cob
- Instant Pot Bean Soup with Pesto
- Instant Pot Pork Carnitas
- Instant Pot Weight Loss Soup
Wine Pairings for Dal:
- Look for an off-dry Riesling or Gewurztraminer to compliment this well spiced Indian dal.
Instant Pot Dal Recipe
Instant Pot Dal
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 3 garlic cloves (finely grated)
- 1 2-inch piece ginger (peeled and finely grated (about 2 tablespoons))
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne (more if you like your indian food spicy)
- 1½ cups dried split peas (rinsed)
- 3 cups water
- 2 tomatoes (chopped)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro (chopped + extra for garnish)
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- Kosher salt and pepper (to taste)
- Cooked basmati rice
Quick Pickled Red Onion:
- 1 small red onion (very thinly sliced into rounds, rinsed)
- 1 lime (zested and juiced)
- Pinch of sugar
- Large pinch of salt
- Set Instant Pot to SAUTE, add heat the oil. Add onions and a pinch of salt and sauté until softened, 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne and cook for another minute until fragrant.
- Hit the CANCEL button and add split peas, water, tomatoes, salt and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the Instant Pot.
- Cover and seal the lid – turn the vent to sealing. Press the MANUAL (high pressure) button and set the timer to 10 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes for Instant Pot to come to full pressure, then the display will show a countdown timer.
- Meanwhile, make your toppings.
- In a small bowl, combine lime zest and juice, red onion, sugar, and a large pinch of salt. Massage the onion for 1 minute to help it soften.
- Mix yogurt and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Once the 10 minutes are up, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure.
- Open the lid, stir in the cilantro and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve dal over rice drizzled with yogurt and topped with pickled onion and additional cilantro.
This recipe was originally published in March 2018. It was updated in December 2019 to add an instructional video. The Instant Pot Dal recipe remains the same. Enjoy!