Instant Pot Dal Tadka (Dal Fry)

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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 2 reviews
Pin Recipe Print Recipe
Course Punjabi
Cuisine Indian

Ingredients
 

Spices

Tadka

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Video

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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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Comments

  1. Zaira Chowdhury says

    This recipe looks delicious Ashley! Can’t wait to try it out 🙂 I had a quick question about your Onion Masala. Is there an alternative to the masala if I am in a hurry, and don’t have it pre-made?

    • My Heart Beets says

      Thanks, Zaira! You’d need to saute an onion until brown, then saute ginger and garlic, and then cook down a couple of tomatoes. Definitely suggest making the masala if you’re going to do all of that anyway!

  2. Lisa says

    5 stars
    Hi Ashley,
    Can you please share the details of the pans and skillets you use? I am in search of a good pan and skillet (without any toxic coating).

    Thanks,
    Lisa

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Lisa, I’ll work on putting together a comprehensive list, great idea! For now, I really love my 11-inch Staub enameled cast iron deep skillet. I also recently bought an “always pan” but have yet to see if it lives up to the hype 🙂

  3. kel says

    Can’t say enough great things about all your recipes! Regarding dal tadka in particular, I have tried so many recipes, attempting to recreate some of the flavor from my local Indian restaurant. Their yellow dal tadka has a truly zingy, almost tart flavor that is amazing with the other spices. I haven’t really been able to capture that flavor even with upping the amchur a bit. Any idea what it could be? I’m not sure if anardana or tamarind would normally be included in a dal tadka. Maybe my amchur is a bit old.

    • My Heart Beets says

      Thanks, Kel! Glad you like my recipes 🙂 As for the dal tadka, I’d definitely suggest getting fresh spices – they make such a difference. It does sound like they add something extra though – souring agents are very common in Indian cooking. It could be any number of ingredients but my guess is that they’re using whole pieces of dried green/raw mango which adds a different flavor than amchur – it’s really nice. You can find that at your local Indian grocery store. If you try that, cook it with the dal (not the tadka).

  4. Brandy says

    5 stars
    I made this tonight when my chicken biryani plans fell through, and I served it with jeera rice (and naan at my son’s request). SO good. My husband and young son loved it. The tadka made the house smell amazing. As always when I make your recipes, I crack open a few windows to make my neighbors jealous.
    I am going to make it again tomorrow.

    You and your onion masala are the greatest things to happen to me since the invention of the instant pot. Thank you.

    • My Heart Beets says

      Brandy, I’m so glad your husband and son enjoyed the dal! And love that you’re sharing the aroma with your neighbors lol – hopefully it’ll encourage them to give Indian food a try! Thanks for the kind words 🙂

  5. Jayesh Lalwani says

    Are you sure you cooked it for 6 minutes? Did you soak it before? My other recipe says to cook it for 30 minutes

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Jayesh, yes, I set the cook time for 6 minutes – please keep in mind that it takes time to build up pressure before the cook time begins, and then it will also take time to naturally release pressure. 🙂 Hope that helps explain!

  6. Maneesha says

    Wow this looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it! I love your daal recipes – keep ’em coming! I just made your pumpkin daal again earlier this week and loved it!