Instant Pot Dal Tadka | Indian Dal Fry with Rice

August 23, 2017 (Updated: December 3, 2019) By Aneesha |

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Easy pressure cooker recipe for a hearty and delicious one-pot Indian meal, Instant Pot Dal Tadka, or Dal Fry with Rice.  Split Pigeon Peas, also known as Toor Dal or Arhar Dal, are flavored with aromatics & spices, and cooked with pot-in-pot basmati rice.  Enjoy this popular Indian comfort food in just 30-minutes.

A bowl of Toor Dal tadka on a grey backdrop

One-Pot Meal in 30 Minutes

Dal and rice are pure comfort food in most Indian homes.  Toor Dal, also called Arhar Dal, is probably the most popular lentil all over India. 

It’s a staple for many households and is made daily in some homes.  The creamy texture of this light and flavorful lentils places it among the soul foods in Indian cuisine.

In this simple 30-minute Instant Pot recipe, I cook the lentils with sautéed onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes, and season it with mild Indian spices.  I also make rice in the same pot, using pot-in-pot (PIP) cooking method, to make this a complete one-pot meal.

What is Dal?

Dal, also spelled as Daal, Dhal, or Dahl, are dried pulses and belong to the legumes family of dried peas, beans and lentils. 

They can be whole or split, and are staples in many South Asian countries, including India.

Naturally Vegan & Gluten-Free

Dal is naturally Vegan and Gluten-free and is a great source of proteins, carbohydrates, fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals.

A ladle of Indian Dal, garnished with cilantro

How to Make Dal in Pressure Cooker

The cook time of Dal varies and depends on the kind and age of lentils.  I like to use a pressure cooker for cooking lentils, because I can cook all split dals (lentils) in 30 minutes or less.  Plus, most of it is hands-off cooking time.

Traditionally, the cooked lentils are flavored with a hot tempering called tadka , which is made by heating cumin or mustard seeds in hot oil or ghee, till they sizzle. 

Dried red chillies are often added too.  This process helps the seeds and chillies bloom, bringing out their flavors and infusing the oil with them.

In this lentil soup recipe, I cooked the Dal along with the tempering, to make this a one-pot meal.   This recipe is a combination of my mother’s Dal Tadka Recipe and my mother-in-law’s Dal Fry Recipe, so it is the best of both worlds for me!

Instant Pot with Indian Dal fry, garnished with cilantro

Here’s How to Make Dal in Instant Pot:

Step #1  Saute aromatics

Heat oil on Saute mode (high).  When it displays ‘hot’, add mustard seeds (or cumin seeds). Wait for them to sizzle and splutter and add onions, green chilli and crushed ginger and garlic.  Saute for 30 seconds.

Instructions showing how to make pressure cooker dal and rice.

Step#2  Add tomato and spices, saute

Add chopped tomato and spices and saute for 30-45 seconds.  This helps the spices bloom.  The tomato also helps deglaze the pan.

Step by step instructions showing how to make Indian dal in Instant Pot

Step#3 Add rinsed lentils and water, and pressure cook

Add rinsed lentils and water.  Using a wooden spoon or spatula, deglaze the pot, scrapping off any brown bits at the bottom.  This step is very important to avoid the burn message. 

If you’re not making rice with it, close the lid, cancel saute and pressure cook for 6 minutes.  If you like a more mushy dal, increase the time to 8 minutes.

Step by step process showing how to make dal in Instant pot

When cook time is up, wait for 10 minutes and release the remaining pressure by turning the knob to ‘venting’ position in DUO, or, pressing down the pressure valve in ULTRA.  Open the lid after the pin drops.

How to Make Dal Tadka with Pot-in-Pot Basmati Rice

  • Assemble the dal as per instructions above. 
  • Now, place a trivet in the Instant Pot.  
  • In an oven safe bowl that fits, add rinsed rice, water and seasoning.  Stir everything. 
  • Place the bowl on top of the trivet.  Close lid. 
  • Pressure cook for 6 minutes on Manual or Pressure Cook setting.

Step by step process showing how to make pot in pot rice with dal in Instant pot

  • After cooking, wait for 10 minutes and release the remaining pressure by turning the knob to ‘venting’ position in DUO, or, pressing down the pressure valve in ULTRA. 
  • Open the lid after the pin drops. 
  • Remove rice and gently fluff with a fork. 
  • Garnish dal with lemon and cilantro and serve warm.

Accessories Needed for This Dal and Rice Pot-in-Pot Recipe

  1. Tall Trivet
  2. Stainless Steel Bowl, or any oven-safe bowl

What to Serve with Dal Tadka

Rice is the most common pairing with lentils, especially Dal tadka. If you want to jazz up the Basmati rice, you can also make Cumin Rice, also called Jeera Rice, using this simple and easy recipe.

Jeera Rice or Cumin Rice, is a popular Indian side dish where delicious and aromatic basmati rice is cooked with the nutty and earthy cumin seeds. It is one of the most popular accompaniment with Indian curries. Quick and easy recipe by Spice Cravings. #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot #recipes #easyrecipe #cuisine #30minutemeal #instagood #foodphotography #tasty #indian #basmati #rice
Cumin Rice / Jeera Rice

Brown Basmati Rice

If you like to Enjoy Dal Tadka with Brown Basmati rice, here’s the recipe for Brown Rice. Since Brown rice take 22 minutes of pressure cooking time, it is not recommended to cook them pot-in-pot with Dal.

Brown Jasmine Rice in Instant Pot
Brown Basmati Rice

Homemade Lemon Pickle

Sweet, spicy and super lemony, this pickle is the perfect accompaniment to Dal and rice! Here’s the lemon pickle recipe.

Instant pot sweet and spicy lemon pickle top shot
Homemade Lemon Pickle

Vegetable Sides that Pair with Dal Tadka

Recipe Tips

  1. To make this lentil curry curry mild, omit cayenne or reduce it to 1/4 tsp.
  2. To make pot-in-pot rice, use any oven safe bowl for rice and make sure that it fits your pressure cooker with about 1 inch space around it. 
  3. This recipe can easily be doubled in a 6qt or a 8qt cooker by multiplying the ingredients. Cooking time stays the same.
  4. This recipe can be used for red lentils as well. 
A spoon of dal tadka made in Instant pot

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Indian Dal Fry served in a black bowl with steamed basmati rice

Instant Pot Dal Tadka | Indian Dal Fry with Rice

Easy pressure cooker recipe for a hearty and delicious one-pot Indian meal, Instant Pot Dal Tadka, or Dal Fry with Rice.  Split Pigeon Peas, also known as Toor Dal or Arhar Dal, are flavored with aromatics & spices, and cooked with pot-in-pot basmati rice.  Enjoy this popular Indian comfort food in just 30-minutes.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
NPR: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 130kcal
Author: Aneesha

Ingredients

  • 1 cup toor dal : rinsed and soaked in warm water (split pigeon peas)
  • 2 teaspoons ghee or butter : I use a combination of ghee and olive oil. Use olive oil for vegan
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 inch ginger crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 small onion sliced or chopped
  • 1-2 green chili (optional)
  • 6-8 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 medium tomato diced
  • 2- 2.5 cups water (adjust to your desired consistency)

Spices

Add after pressure cooking

  • 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder (optional)
  • Gentle squeeze of lime

Tadka- Optional Garnish Before Serving

  • 2 teaspoons ghee heated in a small sauce pan. Use oil for vegan
  • 1 Dried Red Chili (Indian Chili or Arbol chili)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Pot-in-Pot Rice

  • 1 cup basmati rice (or any long-grain white rice), rinsed 2-3 times, till water runs clear
  • 1.25 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil or ghee

Instructions

Instant Pot recipe

  • Rinse and soak lentils in tap water while you prepare tempering. Turn on Instant Pot on SAUTE (high). When it displays ‘hot’, add oil, mustard seeds (or cumin seeds). Wait for them to sizzle and splutter.
  • Add onions, green chilli and crushed ginger and garlic. Saute for 30-45 seconds, till the onion turns pink. 
  • Add chopped tomato and spices and saute for 30-45 seconds. This helps the spices bloom. The tomato also helps deglaze the pan.
  • Add rinsed lentils and water. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, deglaze the pot, scrapping off any brown bits at the bottom. This step is very important to avoid the burn message.  If you’re not making rice with it, close the lid, cancel saute and pressure cook for 6 minutes. 
  • For Making Pot-in-Pot Rice:  Place a trivet in the Instant Pot. In an oven safe bowl add rinsed rice, water and seasoning. Stir. Place the bowl on top of the trivet. Close lid. Pressure cook for 6 minutes on Manual or Pressure Cook setting.
  • After cook time is up, wait for 10 minutes and release the remaining pressure by turning the knob to ‘venting’ position in DUO, or, pressing down the pressure valve in ULTRA. Open the lid after the pin drops. Remove rice and gently fluff with a fork. Garnish dal with lemon and cilantro and serve warm.

Stove top recipe

  • Sauce pan:  Heat a heavy-bottom sauce pan or a dutch oven, on medium-high heat.  Follow steps 1, 2 and 3.  Reduce heat to medium and cook the lentils for 20-25 minutes, covered, or until cooked through and soft.  Garnish with lemon and cilantro and serve warm.
  • Indian Pressure Cooker: Follow steps 1 and 2. Close the lid of the pressure cooker. Cook on high-heat till 1 whistle and then reduce to medium heat and cook for 5 minutes. Wait for pressure to release naturally before opening. Continue with step 3.

Video

Notes

Recipe Tips:

  1. To make this lentil curry curry mild, omit cayenne or reduce it to 1/4 tsp.
  2. To make pot-in-pot rice, use any oven safe bowl for rice and make sure that it fits your pressure cooker with about 1 inch space around it. 
  3. This recipe can easily be doubled in a 6qt or a 8qt cooker by multiplying the ingredients. Cooking time stays the same.
  4. This recipe can be used for red lentils as well. 
  5. If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
 
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 130kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 445mg | Potassium: 72mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 287IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Dahl recipe, Dal fry, Dal Tadka recipe, Instant Pot Dal Fry Recipe, Instant Pot Dal Tadka
Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!

This recipe was was updated in 2019 with new photos, helpful information, tips, and step-by-step photos.

HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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