Instant Pot Dal Tadka (Dal Fry)


We are making yellow dal tadka!

instant pot dal tadka

The secret to making a bowl of yellow lentils feel extra special?

Top it up with a heavy drizzle of fragrant, spice-infused ghee!

Stirring warm, aromatic, buttery ghee into a bowl of lentils just before serving transforms a humble soup into a rich and decadent dish.

instant pot dal tadka

What is dal tadka?

The word “dal” means lentil soup, and “tadka” is the act of frying aromatics in hot oil or ghee. Therefore dal tadka is a lentil soup that’s topped with fragrant ghee/oil.

There is no one right way to make dal tadka. Different regions and different households spice their dal differently. What you put in a tadka, or tempering, is completely up to you.

This particular recipe is for Punjabi dal tadka and is made with yellow lentils, onion masala, and then topped with a spicy tempering made up of crisp cumin seeds, caramelized onions, and chilies.

What kind of dal do you use when making dal tadka?

Yellow dal tadka or dal fry is what you usually find in restaurants. It’s what most people are referring to when they talk about dal tadka. This popular dal tadka is made using yellow lentils, like moong dal or toor dal, or sometimes a combination of the two.

The pictures in this post are photographed using moong dal, but feel free to use toor dal or masoor dal (red lentils), or again, a combination. Moong dal adds a nice creaminess to dal tadka and so sometimes when I use toor or masoor, I’ll add a bit of moong too.

If you’ve seen my recipe for everyday dal, it is a simpler dal tadka recipe calling for both masoor and moong; overall, it is less flavorful than this restaurant-style yellow dal tadka but it’s a good recipe to make if you don’t have much time and need to make dal using minimal ingredients.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about when I refer to different dals, you’re not alone. I’ve been there – it can be confusing. Read this post I wrote about different types of lentils used in Indian cooking – there are lots of pictures in the post. 🙂

instant pot dal tadka

Making dal tadka in an Instant Pot

Typically, when I make dal in the instant pot, I’ll make the tadka first, right in the pot, then add the dal and water overtop and cook.

But with this dal tadka, I’m doing things a bit differently. I’m cooking the lentils with frozen onion masala, spices, and water together first.

Then, I’m making tadka on the stovetop and pouring it overtop the lentils just before serving.

When the dal is done, pour it into a bowl, top it with tadka and then garnish with cilantro. Swirl it all together before you eat 🙂

instant pot dal tadka

Serve dal tadka with plain basmati rice or jeera rice or pea pulao. You can also add raita (yogurt) and pickle (achar) on the side, to make this a more complete meal. Enjoy!

instant pot dal tadka

Instant Pot Dal Tadka (Dal Fry)

instant pot dal tadka

Instant Pot Dal Tadka (Dal Fry)

5 from 18 reviews
Pin Recipe Print Recipe
Course Punjabi
Cuisine Indian




  • 3 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ onion thinly sliced
  • 1 green chili minced
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • teaspoon hing
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder


  • Cilantro garnish


  • Add the rinsed dal, water, onion masala, and spices to the instant pot.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 6 minutes at high pressure.
  • Naturally release pressure.

Make the tadka on the stovetop: 

  • Add ghee to a pan over medium heat and once it melts, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. When the cumin seeds brown, add the onion and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until golden brown, then add the green chili, dried red chilies, hing, stir, then add the Kashmiri red chili and immediately remove from heat.
  • Pour the (red) tadka on top of the dal.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve.


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instant pot dal tadka

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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Stef says

    Good recipe. I felt the garlic flavour was missing from the tadka and a squeeze of lemon to finish at the end. Other than that, I liked it.

  2. Maneesha says

    5 stars
    So delicious, Ashley! I love making dishes from different parts of India, and this dal from Punjab was great! I made it with yellow mung daal and I’ll try it again with different daals!

  3. Rachel Singh says

    5 stars
    This came out soooooo good. Definitely the best lentil recipe I have ever tasted. We made the Everyday Dal recipe before and I thought it was delicious, but this one is somehow even better. My Punjabi husband said, “this is the way it’s supposed to taste”.

  4. Breeanna says

    5 stars
    Yum this was a really good use of the frozen onion masala. The timing on the cook was perfect, the dal came out with a nice texture, still a little bit of shape. I did simplify my tadka somewhat just some mustard, cumin seeds and green chilli in ghee but it does the job.

    Big fan of the onion masala recipes, makes things so easy!

  5. Gargi says

    This was so good, Ashley! I am typing this while enjoying a bowl of dal fry. Love the smoky flavor from the tadka. I can’t believe I haven’t been cooking dal like this all these years. Reminds me of the time growing up in India, when my dad used to bring home dal fry from nearby Dhaba. 🙂

  6. sharon says

    5 stars
    I have made a LOT of recipes on this site. This one is really easy and delicious. I will make again!

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