Rinse and soak lentils in tap water while you prepare tempering. Turn on Saute mode (high). When it displays ‘hot’, add oil and mustard seeds. Wait for them to sizzle and splutter.
Add onions, serrano chili and minced ginger and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until the onion turns pink.
Add chopped tomato and spices and saute for another minute. This helps the spices bloom.
Add rinsed and drained lentils along with fresh water. Deglaze the pot, scrapping off any brown bits stuck at the bottom. If you’re just making dal without rice, close the lid, cancel saute and pressure cook for 6 minutes at high pressure (sealing mode). If making rice, read the following instructions.
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 well. Place the bowl on top of the trivet. Close the lid and pressure cook for 6 minutes on Manual or Pressure Cook.
After cook time is up, wait for 5-10 minutes, then manually release pressure. Open the lid after the pin drops. Remove rice and gently fluff with a fork. Garnish dal with cilantro and lime (if using). To add the tadka, follow the instructions below.
Heat a small sauce pan on medium heat. Add ghee (or oil for vegan) along with dry red chili, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, hing (optional), kashmiri red chili powder (optional) and curry leaves. Gently heat it until the seeds begin to splutter. Turn off heat and add this tempering on top of the cooked dal just before serving.
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.
To make this lentil curry curry mild, omit red chili powder or reduce it to ¼ teaspoon
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.
This recipe can easily be doubled in a 6qt or a 8qt cooker by multiplying the ingredients. Cooking time stays the same.
To adapt this recipe for red lentils, follow the instructions and reduce the cook time to 3 minutes.
The finishing tadka (tempering) is optional but highly recommended. It elevates this recipe to a whole new level.
Store any leftover dal in any airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply microwave for 1-2 minutes or heat in a sauce pan until warmed.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.