Instant Pot Vegan Red Lentil Dal

As frugal as lentils are, there’s something about the standard lentil soup with carrots, onions and celery that just doesn’t taste good to me. I really didn’t like lentils until I started cooking them Indian-style. Not only are lentils inexpensive, but the Indian spices and seasonings used are too! They’re also pretty easy to find in any American supermarket.

If you’re not familiar with Indian cooking, there’s a very popular type of dish known as dal (or dahl, daal, dhal). They are nearly always made of some sort of split peas, beans or lentils with Indian spices like turmeric, cumin, chile, and coriander. The combination makes for a really tasty dish that (IMHO) is way better than any American preparation of lentils.

When I started cooking Indian food, I went to YouTube because it was so different that what I was used to cooking and I wanted to see someone do it first. I now have two favorite YouTube Indian chefs that I always go to when I want to make Indian food. Their videos are very easy to follow and their recipes turn out great. One is Manjula (manjulaskitchen). The other is Sanjay (vahchef).

Here’s one of Sanjay’s recipes that I just made tonight. It came out great!  Of course, I made a batch about four times bigger than in the video so will have many meals from a $0.99 bag of lentils. To go with the dal, I also made Sanjay’s palak paneer recipe except using extra firm tofu instead of the paneer cheese.  It was a great vegetarian meal that was as delicious as it was frugal.


Instant Pot Vegan Red Lentil Dal

A super fast and delicious recipe for Indian-style dal
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Keyword dal, indian, lentils, red lentils
Servings 8


  • Instant Pot


  • 1 bag Red lentils 16oz
  • 1 Onion small, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp Coriander ground
  • 1 tsp Turmeric ground
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chile powder ground, optional
  • 1 tbsp Oil olive or other neutral oil
  • 4 cups water


  • Set the Instant Pot to saute. Add the oil and spices and stir until they become fragrant and sizzle.
  • Add the chopped onion and stir until the onion becomes translucent.
  • Add the lentils and water and change the Instant Pot setting from saute to Bean/Chile for 10 minutes. Secure the lid.
  • When the timer goes off, carefully release the pressure. Stir gently as the lentils will be very soft. Add extra water for a thinner consistency.


I usually turn these lentils into lentil patties. I pour the lentils into 1 quart deli containers and refrigerate overnight. The next day the lentils will be set up solid. I slide them out and slice the cylinder into patties. I then freeze the patties so I have them ready whenever I want. To cook them, I put a frozen patty in a skillet with oil and fry until crisp on the outside and hot inside. 

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