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Instant Pot Masoor Dal

Red lentils combine with creamy coconut, spinach, lime juice, and warm spices to make Goan-inspired Instant Pot masoor dal. The simple recipe is a family favorite and is ready in 30 minutes! Serve the dal with fragrant, long-grained basmati rice or vegetable pakora. 

Masoor dal and rice on a plate.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Delicious masoor dal comes together quickly for a tasty light lunch or perfect weeknight meal.
  • Red lentil curry is affordable and a good source of protein and fiber. 

What is Masoor Dal?

Masoor dal is a type of lentil that is a staple in Indian cuisine. It has a slightly sweet and earthy flavor, with a smooth, almost soup-like texture once cooked. Red lentils are a versatile ingredient to prepare dals, curries, soups, and spreads. Make creamy Instant Pot masoor dal a complete meal with plain basmati rice for a dish called dal chawal.

What You Need to Make This Recipe

  • Coconut Oil: Coconut is an essential ingredient in Goan cuisine, where every part of the coconut, including its oil, milk, and meal, is used in their dishes. In this dal recipe, I use coconut oil and full-fat coconut milk. 
  • Onion: Caramelized onions cook with the lentils for deep flavor.  
  • Garlic: I suggest using four cloves, but don’t let my recipe tell you how much garlic to use – measure with your heart.
  • Ginger: Saute the ginger into the dal and stir fresh ginger in at the end for brightness. 
  • Boriya Chillies (Gol Lal Mirch): Boriya chilies are spicy and add a decadent flavor. Leave them whole for subtle heat.
  • Spices: Use salt, black mustard seed, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and ground fennel to season the dal.
  • Whole Red Lentils (Masoor Dal): Dal, also spelled daal or dahl, means ‘lentil’ in Hindi and Urdu. Dry masoor dal is orange or red when dry and turns yellow after cooking. You can easily find them in a local Indian grocery store or next to the rice in mainstream grocery stores. 
  • Spinach: Add a bright color with fresh spinach.
  • Lime: Lime juice cuts the richness of the lentils.

Additions and Substitutions

  • Use methi leaves, lime wedges, and onion and ginger tardka to garnish the dal.

How to Make Instant Pot Masoor Dal

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Rinse the red lentils in a mesh strainer and set it aside.

Dal rinsed in a mesh sieve.

Step 2: Warm coconut oil in an Instant Pot on saute mode. Add the onions and cook them until they brown and caramelize, for about 20 minutes.

Onions sauteing in the Instant Pot

Step 3: Add the garlic, one tablespoon of fresh ginger, chiles, and kosher salt. Simmer on saute mode for 1 minute.

Onions, chilies, and garlic sauteing in the Instant Pot.

Step 4: Stir in the mustard seeds, turmeric, ground coriander, and ground fennel until fully incorporated.

Step 5: Deglaze the Instant Pot with 3½ cups of water, and be careful to scrape up anything stuck to the bottom of the pot. Then, whisk in the coconut milk.

Water added to the instant pot.

Step 6: Add the lentils and bring the mixture to a boil on saute mode. Secure the lid and set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure for 10-15 minutes with quick release.

Dal added to the Instant Pot.

Step 7: Remove the Instant Pot lid and unplug it. Stir in the spinach and let it sit for 3-4 minutes.

Spinach stirred into the masoor dal.

Step 8: Finish with the remaining fresh ginger, lime juice, and salt. Stir to combine and serve with basmati rice.

Masoor dal in a serving dish.

Expert Tips

  • Is it necessary to soak masoor dal before cooking? All varieties of dal break down differently as they cook. And unlike other types of dal, red split lentils don’t need to soak before cooking.

If you enjoy this side, try one of these Indian recipes!  

Masoor dal and rice on a plate.

What to Serve with Masoor Dal?

What to do with the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate – Store leftover Instant Pot dal in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze  Let the dish cool and prepare several freezer-safe bags or containers. Scoop a small amount into each bag – leaving room for the dal to expand if needed. Instant Pot masoor dal will freeze for up to 2 months.
  • Thaw – Defrost the lentils in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat  Warm leftovers on the stovetop and prepare your sides.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are lentils?

Lentils or dal are in the legume family. There are different kinds of dal including red lentils (masoor), yellow lentils (moong dal and toor dal), green lentils (whole moong), brown lentils (whole masoor), and black lentils (urad dal).

Can I make this recipe on the stove-top?

1. Rinse 1 cup of masoor dal in a colander and set aside.
2. In a saute pan, warm coconut oil, and onion; cook on low-medium heat until the onions brown and caramelize.
3. Add the garlic, one tablespoon of ginger, chilies, and kosher salt; cook for 1 minute.
4. Stir in the mustard seed, turmeric, coriander, and fennel until fully incorporated.
5. Add the water and then whisk in the coconut milk. Stir in the lentils and bring the mixture to a boil.
6. Reduce the heat and cover the pan with a lid; cook on medium heat for about 25-30 minutes.
7. Stir in spinach and return to a simmer, about 3-4 minutes.
8. Off heat, add the last 1 tbsp of ginger, lime juice, and kosher salt to taste. Stir well.
9. Garnish with lime wedges and serve with long-grain basmati rice.

Is masoor dal vegetarian? Is it vegan?

This meal is naturally vegetarian and vegan-friendly.

More International Dinner Ideas:

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Masoor dal and rice on a plate.

Instant Pot Masoor Dal

Tressa Jamil
Nothing beats warm and soothing Instant Pot masoor dal. Prepare it with rice for a protein-packed meal or tasty side dish.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Goan, Indian
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 221 kcal
Ingredients
  
  • 1 cup masoor dal (red lentils)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 – inched fresh ginger, minced, divided
  • 3-5 dried boriya chilies
  • ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • cups water
  • 1 can coconut milk, full-fat
  • 6 cups fresh spinach
  • 4 limes, divided, sliced, and juiced
Instructions
 
  • Rinse the red lentils in a mesh strainer and set it aside.
  • Warm coconut oil in an Instant Pot on saute mode. Add the onions and cook them until they brown and caramelize, for about 20 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, one tablespoon of fresh ginger, chiles, and kosher salt. Simmer on saute mode for 1 minute.
  • Stir in the mustard seeds, turmeric, ground coriander, and ground fennel until fully incorporated.
  • Deglaze the Instant Pot with 3½ cups of water, and be careful to scrape up anything stuck to the bottom of the pot. Then, whisk in the coconut milk.
  • Add the lentils and bring the mixture to a boil on saute mode. Secure the lid and set the Instant Pot to manual high pressure for 10-15 minutes with quick release.
  • Remove the Instant Pot lid and unplug it. Stir in the spinach and let it sit for 3-4 minutes.
  • Finish with the remaining fresh ginger, lime juice, and salt. Stir to combine and serve with basmati rice.
Notes
Expert Tips:
  • All varieties of dal break down differently as they cook. And unlike other types of dal, red split lentils don’t need to soak before cooking.
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Serving | Calories: 221 kcal | Carbohydrates: 32 g | Protein: 11 g | Fat: 4 g | Sodium: 374 mg | Fiber: 5 g | Sugar: 5 g
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
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