An instant Pot version of a basic creamy Indian style lentil dish known as Dal/Dhal, with a spiced ghee topping called Tadka/Tarka. It’s Indian comfort food at it’s best!
There’s nothing quite like creamy lentil Dal. Often pegged as a soup here in the west, in India dal is mostly eaten over rice and not on it’s own as a soup. It is sometimes eaten with thin flat breads called chapati or roti on the side along with vegetables or meat. It’s a staple at most Indian meals and every household has its own version of this dish ranging from using different types of lentils to seasonings, to different spices for tempering (the spiced oil topping).
This recipe is my version of simple red lentil dal which can be made in a pressure cooker or an instant pot. It’s cooked with very little seasoning (just a little turmeric and some chopped tomatoes) and no salt (which helps the lentils cook quicker). It is then topped with a spiced oil or ghee. You can pretty much vary this topping which is called tarka or tadka according to your taste and what you have in your spice pantry. Thinly sliced onion or shallots, dried chilies or red pepper flakes or green chili peppers, curry leaves if you have access to them, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, thinly sliced garlic, ginger are all commonly used in different combinations for a tarka/thadka. And lastly the dal is garnished with a generous handful of chopped fresh cilantro.
Serve it over plain or cumin basmati rice for a delicious meal on meatless monday or you can add more water to the dal to enjoy it as a soup.
- 1 Cup Split Pigeon Peas (Tur/toor Dal)
- 3 Cups Water
- 2 small Tomatoes
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
- 2-3 Tbsp Ghee
- 1 Shallot
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/2 inch Ginger, cut in slivers
- 2-3 dried red peppers
- 1/4 tsp Chili powder (cayenne)
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- - Rinse the split pigeon peas (toor/tur dal) and add it your instant pot or pressure cooker along with 3 cups of water.
- - Roughly dice the tomatoes and add to the IP (instant pot) with 1/4 turmeric powder and stir everything well. (Note: do not add salt to the lentils until after they are cooked)
- - Cover, seal and cook the lentils on High pressure for 7 minutes and allow to natural release for 10 minutes before releasing the pressure manually.
- - Meanwhile, heat the ghee in a small skillet/ pan, add finely sliced shallots and fry unil they start to caramelize and brown slightly.
- - Add the dried chili peppers, sliced ginger and garlic and fry for a 2-3 minutes until they release their flavors and eeverything turns golden
- - Stir in 1/4 tsp red chili powder and turn off the heat immedietely.
- - When the lentils are tender, add salt according to your taste and stir well, mashing somme of the lentils in the dal to make it creamier. If you want the dal to be thicker simply simmer for a few more minutes until with the lid off in saute mode, until it thickens. Or if you prefer your lentils soupier...add more water and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
- - To serve, spoon the lentils (dal) into bowls and top with the fried spiced ghee and shallots mixture. Garnish generously with freshly chopped cilantro.
- - Enjoy over basmati rice or with rotis. If you thin out the dal you can even enjoy it as a creamy lentil soup.
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