Instant Pot Dal with Split Peas

Overhead closeup view of split pea dal with pickled red onions

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.

I’ve been participating in the Half-Cup Habit program, which means I’m doing my best to get in at least ½ cup of pulses into my diet three times per week. “Pulses” are the dry, edible seeds of plants in the legume family, which includes chickpeas, lentils, beans and the split peas found in this Instant Pot Dal. They’re naturally high in protein and fiber, but low in fat. And, if you’re looking for ways to eat healthier, sneaking pulses into your daily routine is definitely a great way to do it.

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.

Overhead shot of split pea dal in bowl served with lime wedges on the side.overhead closeup of instant pot split pea dal next to bowl of yogurt and rice

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.

Overhead closeup view of split pea dal with pickled red onions

Instant Pot Dal

Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: instant pot dahl, instant pot dal
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Time for pressure to build and release: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 362 kcal

This Instant Pot Split Pea 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. 



  • 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
  • cups dried split peas rinsed
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For Serving:

  • 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


  1. Set Instant Pot to SAUTE, add heat the oil. Add onions and a pinch of salt and sauté until softened, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne  and cook for another minute until fragrant.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Meanwhile, make your toppings.
  6. 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.
  7. Mix yogurt and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  8. Once the 10 minutes are up, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure.
  9. Open the lid, stir in the cilantro and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
  10. Serve dal over rice drizzled with yogurt and topped with pickled onion and additional cilantro.
Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Dal
Amount Per Serving
Calories 362 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 12%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 326mg 14%
Potassium 993mg 28%
Total Carbohydrates 53g 18%
Dietary Fiber 20g 80%
Sugars 9g
Protein 21g 42%
Vitamin A 15.9%
Vitamin C 21.7%
Calcium 10%
Iron 23%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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.

This post was sponsored by USA Pulses and Pulse Canada.

Wine Pairings for Dal:

  • Look for an off-dry Riesling or Gewurztraminer to compliment this well spiced Indian dal.

Here are some other delicious recipes containing pulses: 

Instant Pot Cheesy Southwestern Lentils & Brown Rice

This Instant Pot recipe for Cheesy Southwestern Lentils & Brown Rice is the perfect quick vegetarian weeknight dinner recipe that's perfect for Meatless Monday! Hearty lentils and brown rice combine with southwestern spices, tomatoes, peppers & plenty of melty cheese! |

Hearty Sausage, Kale & Lentil Soup

This Hearty Sausage, Kale & Lentil Soup will warm you up and keep you wanting more! |

Instant Pot Persian Beef Stew

Overhead shot of instant pot persian beef stew in bowl with rice

Slow Cooker Chipotle Lentil Soup

Slow Cooker Chipotle Lentil Soup is a warm and comforting hearty soup that’s perfect for chilly Fall days! The chipotle peppers give it a bit of heat and a great smoky flavor. |


  1. Meg

    This looks fantastic! A great way to use the Instant Pot.


  2. Debbie

    I haven’t tried the recipe yet. Just trying to learn about pressure cooking right now, but I have cooked a bunch of Indian recipes.

    Re the spicing, Indian recipes tend to saute their spices for much longer than 1 minute, adding a little liquid in the form of tomato, yogurt or both part way through the saute. They also often add a pinch of garam masala or sauteed spices at the end of cooking. It brings out a lot of depth of flavor.

    Bean and whole grain recipes take a long time on the stovetop, though! Looking forward to trying your pressure cooker methods.


  3. Aimee

    This looks so delicious and it’s a combo of flavors I’d never even think to put together. I can’t wait to try this out for my own meatless Monday and am sending the recipe to my sister-in-law too since practices it as well. Love this recipe, Erin!


    1. Erin

      Thanks Aimee – This is definitely a perfect recipe for Meatless Monday! I hope you both love it!


  4. cakespy

    Looks absolutely wonderful. So cozy for these final frigid days of winter (no matter what the calendar says it doesn’t feel like spring yet!)


    1. Erin

      Right?! I’ll still be eating comfort food for at least a few more weeks I think.


  5. Lynn D.

    This was fantastic! The condiments are essential, they make a rather dreary looking dish look (and taste) beautiful. Meatless Monday has never been so elegant. Wine pairing was delicious also.


    1. Erin

      So glad you liked it Lynn! Cheers!


  6. Denise

    Big split pea fan ! The steps were simple to follow, (been experimenting with my new pressure cooker) My meat eating brother enjoyed this spicy dish. The end result looked just like your pics…Loved the recipe…


    1. Erin

      So happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe Denise!


  7. john

    Very easy recipe, works every time for me


    1. Erin

      I’m so happy to hear that John!


  8. Lani

    We had this for dinner tonight. I’m an instant pot newbie and although am not a vegetarian, like to have meatless dinners regularly. This was a hit! The garnishes definitely added to the meal (don’t skip!). There are 6 of us (4 teens) & it was a hit w/everyone. The directions were clear & easy to follow. I also got naan bread to dip into the dal. I was surprised by the tempering of the cayenne pepper (I read that in your post) & usually don’t add it as there are a couple of sensitive tongues in the family, but the little bit I put in the dal didn’t overwhelm anyone. Thank you for this!!!


    1. Erin

      I’m so happy you liked it Lani – Thanks for the feedback!


  9. Julie

    Hi Erin! Thanks so much for your recipe. I’m new to instant pot cooking. If I double the recipe would I need to increase the time cooking?



  10. Julie

    Hi Erin! Thanks so much for your wonderful website. I have a question regarding cooking time. If I double the recipe do I need to increase the cooking time?


    1. Erin

      Hi Julie – Cook time should be the same!


  11. Ingrid

    Can you use split red lentils for this instead of split peas?


    1. Erin

      Hi Ingrid – I think that will work just fine! I’d love to hear back on how you liked it!


  12. Luna

    I made this once and loved the quick pickled onions, but I found it bland overall. Last night I tried it again, doubled the spices (including the ginger and garlic, but not the cayenne pepper, because I was eating with someone who doesn’t like spice), and also added a pinch each of cardamom and a cinnamon-based blend. I’ve also used one 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes both times I’ve made this, since tomatoes aren’t in season, and that’s worked great. I add a bunch of greens when I open the Instant Pot lid, stir it up, then replace the lid for a while so the greens wilt. Last night’s batch came out great!


    1. Erin

      Thanks so much for these suggestions Luna! I’m going to try your modifications.


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