This delicious Punjabi dal is made with a few humble ingredients and yet it is so full of flavor.
This lentil soup has a few different names: langar wali dal (or langar dal for short), Amritsari dal and maa chole di dal. Or you can call it what I used to call it as a child – when I’d ask my mom to make me some “gurudwara dal.”
This is the dal that you’ll find served at any gurudwara, a place of worship for those who practice the Sikh religion. Every gurudwara has what is called a langar hall, a place where volunteers serve free vegetarian meals to anyone who visits, regardless of race, religion, economic status, etc. Everyone sits together on the floor to eat, as equals. It’s a beautiful concept and my favorite thing about the religion. You may have heard of the most well-known gurudwara: The Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. I have been there several times and hope to take my toddler Tony there one day soon as well.
Langar dal is typically cooked slowly over low heat. Today, I’m sharing my instant pot version which has all the same flavor but is made in a fraction of the time. To make the whole process even easier, I’m making this dal with my pre-made onion masala. Having this onion and tomato masala on hand makes this dal an almost “dump and go” type of recipe. You just need to brown the cumin seeds in some ghee for extra flavor, then add everything to the pot and cook.
This recipe is part of my Indian Onion Masala Series where I share recipes that call for exact amounts of onion masala. Click on the graphic below to find out how to make onion masala, how to store it and to find other recipes that call for it.
Langar dal is made with two types of lentils: whole urad dal (whole black lentils) and chana dal (split yellow chickpeas). I wrote a blog post explaining the different types of Indian lentils if you want to read more about them.
This dal contains a good amount of ghee, which adds a delicious and creamy flavor to the dal. I also like to top the dal with a bit of heavy cream before serving but you don’t have to do this! The dal will taste amazing with or without a touch of cream.
Serve this dal with fresh roti (or another Indian flatbread) or basmati rice. I also love pairing it with raita (to make raita: mix yogurt with a bit of water, salt and roasted cumin powder).
And remember, like most dals, this dish will thicken a bit as it cools. If you warm it up the next day, you can always stir a bit of water into the soup.
I hope you love this! Let me know what you think of it 🙂
- 4 tablespoons ghee, divided
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 cup urad dal, soaked in cold water overnight
- ¼ cup chana dal, rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup (frozen or thawed) onion masala
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- optional garnish: a light drizzle of heavy cream and cilantro leaves
- Press the sauté button, add 2 tablespoons of ghee to the pot and once that melts add the cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds turn brown, add the remaining ingredients to the pot.
- Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 30 minutes at high pressure.
- Naturally release pressure.
- Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee and garnish with a drizzle of heavy cream and cilantro if desired. The dal will continue to thicken as it cools.