Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot} - Cookin Canuck (2024)

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Make a big batch of this vegan Red Lentil Dal in your Instant Pot and enjoy it for meatless lunches and dinners the rest of the week. So easy to make!

Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot} - Cookin Canuck (1)

When I first bought an Instant Pot, my initial cooking goal was to make an amazing red lentil dal. A year and half later, after many batches of Instant Pot Lentil Soup, chicken stew and vegetarian chili, I finally got around to making my first pressure cooker dal recipe.

These Indian spiced lentils, also known as masoor dal, are a breeze to make, particularly with my "cheat" ingredient (store-bought curry paste). The leftovers keep well in the fridge, making them the perfect make-ahead option for quick vegan meals throughout the week. Just add a little extra vegetable broth when reheating.

What is lentil dal or lentil daal?

  • Dal, also known as dhal, dahl or daal, refers to both the main ingredient and the dish itself.
  • The ingredient is a type of split pea or a certain type of lentil. The dish is a spiced dish that is simmered for a long time until the peas or lentils become very soft.
  • There is a huge range of dals, depending on the main ingredient. For example, this version is made of split red lentils, also know as masoor dal. Other examples are urad dal (black lentils), toor dal (pigeon peas) and channa dal (chipckpeas).
  • Split red lentils can be found in some grocery stores, in Indian markets and on Amazon (affiliate link).

Ingredients for red lentil dal:

  • LENTILS: Look for split red lentils, also known as masoor dal. They can be found in most Asian or Indian markets or online.
  • CURRY PASTE: I prefer Patak's mild curry paste, but feel free to use your favorite curry paste, homemade or store-bought. It can be purchased online, but is often cheaper if you can find it in the international of a well-stocked grocery store or in an Asian or Indian market.
  • COCONUT MILK: The recipe calls for lite coconut milk. Feel free to substitute with the full-far version.
  • GHEE OR COCONUT OIL: Use ghee or coconut oil for sautéing the onion and ginger.
  • OTHER SPICES: Ground coriander and ground cumin.
  • BROTH: Use your favorite low-sodium vegetable broth.
Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot} - Cookin Canuck (2)

How to make red lentil dal in an Instant Pot:

  • The Instant Pot and other pressure cookers are ideal for cooking dried pulses of any kind, ranging from split peas to black beans. They cook at high pressure, breaking down and cooking the pulses quickly, often eliminating the need for pre-soaking.
  • In this recipe, I set the Instant Pot to the Sauté setting, then cooked some onion, fresh ginger, garlic, spices and curry paste (affiliate) in some ghee or coconut oil.
  • Is curry paste necessary for making a dal? Absolutely not. Traditionally, dals are made with a variety of spices. Curry paste is my "cheat" for making this recipe extra speedy to put together.
  • Next, the coconut milk and vegetable broth are whisked with curry paste mixture, then the red lentils are added.
  • Using the Manual setting (older Instant Pots) or Pressure setting (newer appliances), cook the dal at high pressure for 8 minutes. Because of the amount of liquid in this recipe, it will take about 20 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure.
  • Release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes, then switch to quick release.
  • Serve right away with basmati rice and chutney, if desired. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. When reheating, you may need to add some additional vegetable broth to loosen up the mixture.
Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot} - Cookin Canuck (3)

Are red lentils good for you?

  • Lentils are little powerhouses of nutrition! One cup of cooked red lentils contains 230 calories. And believe me, one cup will leave you feeling very satisfied.
  • Each cup of cooked lentils contains about 18 grams of protein, making them a fantastic option for vegetarian and vegan diets.
  • They are rich in fiber, folate, iron and manganese.

How to store and reheat the leftovers:

STORING: Cool the dal to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

REHEATING: When made ahead and stored in the refrigerator, the dal will stiffen up. Stir in additional vegetable broth when reheating to re-constitute the dal. I either reheat in a saucepan on the stovetop or in a glass bowl in the microwave.

Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot} - Cookin Canuck (4)

Other healthy Instant Pot recipes:

  • Freezer Burritos {Instant Pot Recipe}
  • Instant Pot Mushroom Soup (Vegan)
  • Chicken and Rice Soup {Instant Pot}

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and comment underneath the recipe card below. Thank you!

Printable Recipe

Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot} - Cookin Canuck (9)

Red Lentil Dal {Instant Pot}

Make a big batch of this vegan Red Lentil Dal in your Instant Pot and enjoy it for meatless lunches and dinners the rest of the week. So easy to make!

4.85 from 32 votes

Print Pin Rate

Prep Time: 5 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes minutes

Pressure & Release time: 30 minutes minutes

Total Time: 43 minutes minutes

Servings: 8 Cups

Calories: 177kcal

Author: Dara Michalski | Cookin' Canuck



  • Set the Instant Pot to the Saute setting. Heat the ghee or coconut oil. Add the onion and ginger. Cook, stirring, until the onion softens, 3 to 4 minutes.

  • Add the garlic, curry paste, coriander and cumin, and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the Instant Pot.

  • Whisk in the coconut milk and vegetable broth, then stir in the red lentils.

  • Put the lid on the Instant Pot, close the steam vent and set to HIGH pressure using the Manual or Pressure Cook setting. Set the time to 8 minutes. It will take about 20 minutes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure.

  • Once the time is expired, wait for 10 minutes (natural release), then carefully use the quick release valve to release the remaining pressure.

  • Season with salt, to taste.

  • Serve or store in the fridge.



Note 1: Ghee is not vegan, though it is vegetarian. Use coconut oil for a vegan option. The nutritional information was calculated using ghee, but it is nearly identical when coconut oil is used.

Note 2: For a spicier dal, use spicy curry paste or add some cayenne pepper.

Make-ahead tip: If making ahead and storing in the refrigerator, the dal will stiffen up. Stir in additional vegetable broth when reheating to re-constitute the dal.

Please note that I am not a medical or nutritional professional. I provide nutritional information for my recipes as a courtesy to my readers. It is calculated using the LoseIt! calculator. While I attempt to provide information that is as accurate as possible, you should calculate the nutritional information independently before relying on it.


Serving: 0.66Cup | Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 25.3g | Protein: 9.9g | Fat: 4.3g | Saturated Fat: 2.2g | Cholesterol: 1.7mg | Sodium: 85mg | Fiber: 6.9g | Sugar: 2.7g

Tried this recipe?If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it on Instagram! Just use the hashtag #COOKINCANUCK and I'll be sure to find it.

This post was originally published on February 27, 2018 and updated on February 10, 2023.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot} - Cookin Canuck (10)

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Reader Interactions


    Leave a Comment

  1. Andrea

    Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot} - Cookin Canuck (15)
    this was an easy, quick, and healthy meal to take to work with me later.


  2. Kevin Adams

    Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot} - Cookin Canuck (16)
    Made your dal recipe on a stormy winter's evening here in cottage country Ontario. Delicious!


  3. kadai kitchen

    Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot} - Cookin Canuck (17)
    simple and delicious option for everybody


  4. julia

    Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot} - Cookin Canuck (18)
    This recipe is amazing. I added potato and carrots and it came out perfectly. New weekly dinner in our rotation.


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Red Lentil Dal Recipe {Instant Pot} - Cookin Canuck (2024)


What is the ratio of red lentils to water? ›

Red Lentil to Water Ratio

To cook red lentils so that they retain some of their shape but are still cooked through, use 2 cups water to 1 cup lentils. To cook red lentils so that they break down into a puree, use 3 cups water to 1 cup lentils.

Why do red lentils fall apart? ›

This is because red lentils have a much softer texture than other types. In fact, they break down and fall apart when they're cooked.

How long to cook lentils at altitude? ›

Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add wine and orange juice and cook until almost completely evaporated. Add the lentils, bacon, broth, and bay leaf, bring to a boil, then simmer gently. At high altitude, it often takes about 45 minutes for the lentils to cook, but it might be only 20 to 30 minutes for you.

Can you use red lentils instead of moong dal? ›

Red Lentils (Masoor Dal) can be used instead of Petite yellow lentils (Mung Dal). Mung Dal will take a few minutes longer to cook through. Mung Beans and Lentils can also be used interchangeably.

How much water do I need for 2 cups of lentils? ›

Cook on a stovetop, using 3 cups of liquid (water, stock, etc) to 1 cup of dry lentils. Be sure to use a large enough saucepan as the lentils will double or triple in size. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender. For whole lentils, cook time is typically 15-20 minutes.

How much does 1 cup red lentils make? ›

As a general rule, one cup of dried lentils yields two to two-and-a-half cups of cooked lentils. Because of their rather delicate, earthy flavor, lentils work well in a variety of dishes and in almost any type of cuisine. The best time to add flavor to lentils is during the cooking process.

What happens if you don't soak red lentils? ›

Do red lentils need to be soaked before cooking? No, there is no need to soak red lentils before cooking but it is a good idea to give them a quick rinse.

What happens if you forget to rinse lentils? ›

There'll be no food poisoning, just maybe a bit of grit. But I never wash lentils and they don't taste gritty.

Should red lentils be rinsed before cooking? ›

Lentils do not require it but can be soaked in order to reduce cooking time by about half. Before cooking, rinse lentils in cold water, pick over to remove debris or shrivelled lentils, then drain.

Can you overcook red lentils? ›

Yes, you can overcook lentils; they will become mushy. Much depends on the type of lentil you're using. Some cook quicker and hold their shape better than others. To avoid overcooking them, always follow the cooking directions in your recipe and use the type of lentils called for in the ingredient list.

How do you know when lentils are fully cooked? ›

The best way to tell if lentils are cooked is to try to mash one with a fork. If it's easy to mash it, it's fully cooked. If it doesn't give or just breakfast, you may need to simmer if for a few extra minutes. Lentils are an economical and speedy way to add iron and heart-healthy vegan protein to your diet.

Which lentils take the longest to cook? ›

Green lentils hold their shape well, but they take the longest to cook, about 45 minutes to an hour, as opposed to the 20 to 40 it takes to cook the lentils and pulses in the "mushy" category.

What is dal called in English? ›

Daal are often known as lentils, but actually refers to a split version of a number of lentils, peas, chickpeas, kidney beans etc.

Which lentils are best for dal? ›

Best lentils for Dal– This recipe calls for Channa Dal which is a type of yellow lentils which provides an ideal texture for this Dahl. I was astonished to discover it's sold at Coles supermarket (international section). Yellow split peas is a terrific substitution though the cook times do differ (see recipe notes).

What is the Indian name for red lentil Dal? ›

Masoor (also known as red lentil, Hindi: masoor, Gujarati: masoor) is a brown skinned lentil that is orange on the inside. Masoor dal has a pleasant earthy flavor and is very common in Northern India. It is commonly used to make dal, soups and stews.

How much dry red lentils for 1 cup cooked? ›

Note that 1 pound (16 ounces) of dry lentils yields about 6 cups cooked (and ½ cup dry is about 1 cup cooked). In general, use 2½ to 3 cups of water for every cup of lentils. Remember, no soaking is required for cooking lentils and to keep an eye out for any debris to remove from your lentils.

Do red lentils need to be soaked? ›

Do red lentils need to be soaked before cooking? No, there is no need to soak red lentils before cooking but it is a good idea to give them a quick rinse.

How much should you water lentils? ›

Upon planting, water well without making the soil soggy. Give plants about 1 inch of water per week. At least 10 inches of annual rainfall is needed. If weather conditions become especially dry, lentil plants are drought tolerant.

How long do red lentils have to soak? ›

Soaking lentils for two- eight hours is mostly recommended. In a bowl add the dal and rinse it with water, changing the water 3-4 times and clean it gently by stroking with your fingers. Now add water to a bowl and soak the dal for about 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the type of lentil.

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