Rinse dal 2-3 times in a bowl of water. Let is soak while you prepare and gather other ingredients.
Turn on Saute and adjust to high. Once it's hot, in about 30 seconds, add oil (or ghee) and cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds start sizzling, add the chopped onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until they soften.
Add ginger and garlic, and cook for another minute.
Add chopped tomato, salt, turmeric, garam masala and red chili powder. Stir and cook for 2 minutes or until tomatoes soften. Using the back of your ladle, gently mash the tomatoes.
Strain dal and add it to the pot along with water. Stir well and turn off saute. Close the lid in sealing position. Select pressure cook or manual, and cook for 3 minutes. For a mushier dal cook for 4 minutes.
After the cook time is up, wait 5 minutes for natural pressure release, then manually release it. Open the lid once the pin drops. Stir the dal, mashing some against the walls of the pot to thicken it.
Check for taste. Garnish with cilantro and a few drops of lemon juice (if using). If skipping the tadka, enjoy moong dal with steamed basmati rice or fresh roti. To add tadka, follow the step below.
Optional Tempering- Tadka
Heat a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons ghee and ¼ teaspoon red chili powder or 1 dried red chili pepper. Heat till the oil starts sizzling. Turn off heat and pour the 'tadka' over the prepared moon dal just before serving.
Moong dal: Traditionally this recipe is made with yellow split gram, which are sometimes also labelled as split yellow mung beans. You can find it in any Indian grocery store or on Amazon.
Water: The quantity of water used will depend on your preferred end texture. This quantity used here yields a thick and creamy dal. To thin it, either add an additional ½ cup water before pressure cooking, or add warm water as needed after pressure cooking.
Pressure cook time: For a creamy dal in which the lentils still hold their shape, cook for 3 minutes. For a mushier texture, increase pressure cook time to 4 minutes.
Optional tempering: Enhance the flavor of this dal by adding a tadka (tempering) just before serving. To do that, heat ghee and red chili powder until it sizzles. Pour it over the cooked dal and stir before serving.
Make it Vegan: Skip using ghee and use olive oil or avocado oil to keep this dal 100% vegan.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates and include the tadka (tempering). If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.