Instant Pot Masala Dal


Masala dal is flavorful, filling and easy enough to make on a weeknight!

Instant Pot Masala Dal

You can probably tell by the name of this dish this instant pot masala dal is going to be really flavorful. Well, in addition to onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and spices – it’s also made using a combination of two different types of lentils: toor dal and chana dal. Toor dal melts right into the soup, making it a bit creamy. Chana dal keeps it’s shape, adds texture and has a really nice nutty flavor to it.

I don’t like to play favorites when it comes to recipes but… if I was going to choose my favorite dal here on the blog, it’d be a tie between my dal makhani and this masala dal, both equally good but in different ways. But um, try all of my dals because they’re all good. All my dals get a participation trophy!

The simplest nutritious meal: this dal + pea pulao or jeera rice or plain basmati rice. Look at me giving you three options for rice!

We have been having some rainy days here in Pittsburgh lately and it has me craving and making masala dal on repeat. This creamy spiced lentil soup is my go-to comfort food recipe year-round. It’s fresh and flavorful and perfect for when you’re feeling happy or sad. A dal for all feelings. A bowl of this soup on a gloomy day makes me feel a little bit brighter and a bowl of this on a sunny day makes me feel good about myself too (for making the healthy choice to eat dal over… well, something else).

I love the combination of chana dal and toor dal, but you can make this recipe with a different type of split lentil if you want to change things up (try masoor dal or moong dal – check out this post on Indian legumes and lentils  to learn more about them).

If you love this recipe, I hope you’ll check out my cookbook, Indian Food Under Pressure, for more delicious electric pressure cooker Indian recipes.

Now go make yourself a bowl of this dal and then come back and tell me how much you love it. 🙂

Instant Pot Masala Dal

Instant Pot Masala Dal

Instant Pot Masala Dal

Instant Pot Masala Dal

This is one of my go-to recipes to make on a rainy day because it’s both comforting and flavorful. I love the combination of chana dal and toor dal, but you can make this recipe with a different type of split lentil if you want to change things up.
4.91 from 20 reviews
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Servings 4
Cuisine Indian


  • ½ cup split chickpeas chana dal, soaked for 1-2 hours – optional
  • ½ cup split pigeon peas toor dal, soaked for 1-2 hours – optional
  • 4 tablespoons oil of choice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 Serrano pepper or green chili minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 tomatoes chopped




  • Soak the lentils in cold water for 1-2 hours. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  • Press the sauté button, add the oil and allow it to heat up for a minute. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds to the pot. Once the cumin seeds brown and the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the onion and Serrano pepper. Stir-fry for 6-7 minutes or until the onions begin to brown.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until they completely break down.
  • Add all of the spices except for the garam masala, stir, then add the lentils and water and mix well.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 7 minutes at high pressure.
  • Naturally release pressure (or wait 15 minutes, then release remaining pressure).
  • Stir in the garam masala and serve.


If you’d like to use onion masala in this recipe, you can use ½ cup and omit the onion, tomato, ginger, garlic. Adjust spices to taste.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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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. Russ Adams says

    5 stars
    Made this using green lentils instead of the toor dal because I didn’t have any. Also, used your onion masala and chili paste. Served it with brown basmati from your IP recipe as well. It instantly became a go to meal. It was sooo good on a cold December night! Thank you Ashley!

  2. Archana says

    Hi – My sister was recommending this recipe. I don’t have an instant pot. How can I make this in the slow cooker or on the stove?

    Thank you in advance for your help!

  3. Sangeeta mangla says

    5 stars
    Hi Ashley thank you 😊I started cooking on my instant pot by following your recipes and this was the first recipe I tried and it came out delicious everyone liked it so much that now it’s a regular in my home 😋

  4. Tanya says

    Yet to try this out! Looks mouth watering already haha
    Was wondering could I just make this with 1 cup toor dal since I don’t have chana dal

  5. sharon wanke says

    Wow. So delicious. I made it as written and I think it’s fantastic. I’m not Indian, so I’m no expert but I have learned so much from the website and Facebook page.

  6. Kim says

    5 stars
    Love! Though I added 1.5 tsp curry powder simply because it’s my favorite dal spice…aside from garam masala! Added a tiiiiiny pinch of cardamom too. Yummy!

  7. Cathy says

    5 stars
    Its been awhile since I made this, so made it the other day for a change… Oh oh oh it was so good!! I don’t think I had toor dal when I made it before (it was some time ago) but I do now. I love the texture of it. I leave out the pepper to decrease the heat, (plus can only get jalapeños in our area and I detest them lol) and increased the spices a bit. I will be making this more often if I can find more toor dal. Hard to get these ingredients in my area at the best of times, but with Coronavirus its getting even harder. Thanks for all you do Ashley and stay safe!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Amy, please don’t drain it – you’ll lose flavor! Just press the sauté button and boil off liquid until it’s as thick as you’d like. Also, please know that the dal will thicken as it sits – toor dal thickens (chana dal, not as much). In fact, you’ll likely want to add water when you reheat this.

  8. Shahida says

    5 stars
    Hi Ashley. I made this with yellow moong dal. Taste came out really good. Is texture supposed to be like sambar or thick. Mine came out thick which is good but I wasn’t sure if I did it correctly. I’ve always made dal on stove top

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Shahida! The texture with this dal and any dal on my blog is totally up to you! I usually make my dal recipes so that the texture is a bit on the thicker side, that way those who prefer a thinner dal can add more water at the end to their desired consistency 🙂

  9. Esther says

    I have been gleefully camping on your website for the past while. I have already tried some of your delicious recipes and have to restrain myself from cooking a new one evry day (for my husband’s sake, who isn’t as obsessed with Indian food as I am). if it was up to me I would be trying out one of your recipes every day!!

    I want to try this dal but because my husband can’t eat tomatoes, I was wondering if I could sub in some of the Nomato Onion Masala that I have already made? If so, how much should I use?

    • My Heart Beets says

      Esther, that makes me so happy to hear! I would try ½ cup of the nomato masala and see how that goes! If you feel it’s lacking in flavor, you can always stir in an extra ¼ cup at the end. Let me know how that goes!

  10. Christina says

    5 stars
    This recipe is a regular on our rotation now – loved by all including our 3 and 5 year olds. To reduce the spice for the kids I leave out the chili and paprika and it goes down a treat – thank you!

  11. Mark says

    5 stars
    I’ve made quite a few different dal recipes over the past few years, and this one may be my new favorite. The black mustard seeds add a nice zing, and this recipe is my first time cooking with them. Thanks!

  12. Andria says

    If you don’t have fresh tomatoes for this recipe what kind of canned tomatoes and how much would you suggest for this recipe? P.S. I’ve been loving your recipes! I’m new to the instant pot and indian cooking and I’ve really enjoyed your website and book (Under Pressure).

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Andria! You can definitely use canned tomatoes in this dish – as for how much – I’d use half the can. Let me know how that goes! I’m so glad you’re liking my recipes 🙂

  13. Julie says

    I have made this four times now in the last two weeks! I have a container of it sitting in my fridge and another bowl of lentils soaking for the next batch! I’m addicted. So tasty and delicious. I increase the chilies and spice because that’s what I like. Thank you for a great recipe!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Julie, wow that is so awesome to hear!! Love that you’ve made this so many times and like it so much!! Thanks for letting me know how much you like this – made my day 🙂

      • Julie says

        And now I’ve tried your dal makhani which is EVEN BETTER. I also have two large eggplants sitting on my counter, ready to be turned into your Baingan bharta. I’m so happy I found your site!

  14. Rachael says

    The recipe calls for pigeon peas and Chana dal, but the first instruction says lentils. Are there supposed to be lentils in it? Thank you.

  15. Reena says

    I just made this at 7 min and natural release and the Chana is still hard. My Chana was even soaked overnight. What is the texture supposed to be like of the Chana?

  16. Kamila says

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe so much I made it twice in one week! Seriously delicious flavors and simple to make. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  17. Christene says

    5 stars
    My husband and I absolutely loved this! We had some great Dal when we were in India last month and this was even better! My husband loves it finished with a tarka and cilantro. I just fried up some more cumin seeds, thin sliced onion and a few thin slices of chili, but would love other suggestions. I hope it freezes well because I’d like to double it next time so I can freeze individual servings for my husband to have when I’m out of town. This is the third recipe I’ve tried off the website. This week I ordered my paper copy of Indian Food Under Pressure. Thank you!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Christene, that’s awesome! I’m so happy to hear how much you and your husband like this dal 🙂 I hope you love all of the recipes from my book as well 🙂 Can’t wait to hear what you think of any other recipes that you try!

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