Instant Pot Red Lentil Dal (Masoor Dal)


Creamy red lentil dal, made in minutes, in an instant pot!

instant pot red lentil dal (masoor dal)

Once upon a time, a girl named Ashley, with a food blog came up with this great recipe for red lentil dal, also known as masoor dal. But she had absolutely nothing interesting to say about the dal other than the fact that it was tasty. When she tried explaining this to the bowl of masoor dal, the dal was quite offended. So masoor dal decided HE would take over Ashley’s post and talk a little about himself.

Hi. I’m Red Lentil Dal, but feel free to call me Masoor. I’m taking over Ashley’s blog post today because, frankly, I don’t trust her to do me justice. She thinks the only thing interesting about me is the fact that I taste good. 🙄To be quite honest, as a lentil, I feel a bit misunderstood, and I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about the real me.

I know what you’re thinking. But Masoor, you’re so popular. You’re everywhere! You’re in every grocery store. Everyone LOVES you.

Yes, it’s true. I’m basically a lentil celebrity. But that doesn’t mean I feel UNDERSTOOD. I sort of feel like no one really knows the real me. I mean, even my name. They call me Red Lentil, but I’m really more orangey-pink/salmon in color, and then after you cook me, I turn into a beautiful shade of gold. Yes. Gold.

And I know everyone knows OF me, but no one really appreciates how truly special I am. I’m not the lentil you bring to a party or introduce to family/friends. Why is that? Everyone loves chana dal for its texture and for how nutty it is, and ugh, don’t get me started on the bigger guys, kidney, and chickpea… they are so full of themselves. They show up at every Indian dinner party.

Everyone thinks of me as this mild, sweet lentil, and I have this reputation for turning to mush under any type of pressure. But I mean, it’s not my fault – I’m a sensitive dude—a quality to be admired. Also, I’m low maintenance. You don’t need to soak me (unless you want to) – just give me a quick rinse and cook. Easy, tasty, and filling – what more could you possibly want?

instant pot red lentil dal (masoor dal)

I know I’m a common lentil, but I’m not ordinary, okay? I am really, really special.

Everyone treats me like I’m old news. Yes, I’ve been around for a while (my ancestors were around before domestication – like 11000BCE), but I’m not history… I’m historic. I mean, I’m mentioned a few times in the Bible… someone (Esau) gave up his birthright (to Jacob) for a bowl of ME (RED lentils). Yeah. I’m also mentioned in early Sanskrit lit (along with my buddies, ma (urad) and mung – who also deserve more love, in my opinion).

I’m also still really relevant now. I’m economical – I’ll keep your pockets and your belly nice and full. And I’m good for the environment, so please appreciate my plant-based awesomeness.

WHEW. Alright. I’ve made my case. You see it now, right? I’m one special lentil. So feel free to keep me on your weekly menu but invite me to a party every now and then too, okay?

instant pot red lentil dal (masoor dal)

If you want to learn more about my bean friends, check out this post about the different lentils used in Indian cooking or read this surprisingly fascinating book about beans, or this interesting read about Indian food history. Enjoy!

“This is the best lentil recipe I have ever, ever made or had. I loved it so much I ate it for breakfast! The onion masala is genius and while it requires prep work, once it’s done the recipes using it have a complexity many of the Indian recipes I’ve made at home lack. I will be making all your recipes that use it!”

Marcella W.

Instant Pot Red Lentil Dal (Masoor Dal)

instant pot red lentil dal (masoor dal)

Instant Pot Red Lentil Dal (Masoor Dal)

4.98 from 37 reviews
Pin Recipe Print Recipe


  • 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 serrano pepper slit in half but still intact
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils masoor dal, rinsed
  • ½ cup onion masala
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne or red chili powder to taste
  • Cilantro garnish


  • Press the sauté button, add oil and allow it to heat up for a minute. Add cumin seeds and serrano pepper to the pot. Once the cumin seeds start to brown, add the remaining ingredients to the pot. 
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 5 minutes at high pressure. 
  • Naturally release pressure or wait 10 minutes, then release pressure. 
  • Adjust salt to taste and add more water if you’d like a thinner dal. The dal will thicken as it cools so if you are reheating it, you’ll likely need to add more water.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

Pin This Recipe

Like this recipe? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board now so you will remember to make it later!

Pin Recipe Now0
instant pot red lentil dal (masoor dal)

Related Recipes


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.


Subscribe to get our latest content by email. We won't send you spam. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment & Rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Becky says

    5 stars
    I have tried, and really enjoyed, many of your onion masala recipes, but this is the one I come back to the most! It’s so quick and easy, but absolutely delicious! I don’t order take-out dal anymore because I know it won’t taste as good as this recipe

  2. Lisa says

    5 stars
    This recipe is simple and so delicious – truly! I made the onion masala a little while back and so making this recipe was a breeze. Fast and tasty lunch in no time. Thanks so much!

  3. Katherine P says

    5 stars
    Now this…. IS SOMETHING ELSE!!! This is so good it’s probably illegal in 48 of the 50 states and all of the provenances of Canada too.
    I made the onion masala yesterday, and all on its own it was good, but this? I have no word which begin to sugjest how good it is. Next time I’ll be making a double batch, which means the onion masala will be gone in no time, so next time I’ll need to make a double or quadruple batch.
    Where has this been all my life?
    And having made the onion masala ahead of time jus made this ultra simple and fast. One the onion masala is made, the rest is basic pantry staples that are always on hand, with the exception of the serano pepper. I want seconds soooo bad.

  4. Christina says

    5 stars
    this is such a big step up from other dal recipes I have tried! I have enjoyed many of your other recipes and went ahead and made some onion masala so that I could make even more of them. this one is so easy and flavorful. I’m about to make it for the second time tonight and thought I’d leave a comment while I was here checking the recipe.
    incidentally, I know you won’t ever please everybody, but I have really appreciated any discussion of geography, history, etc that go along with recipes.

  5. Anil says

    Ashley, if i don’t have your onion masala, do you have a translation to what 1/2 cup of onion means in terms of the quantity of fresh tomato, onion, ginger and garlic?


    • Karen says

      I hear you as I was just wondering that myself. I’d have thought, as the recipe creator,Ashley would be able to give the equivalent ingredients of the onion masala, as not everybody always has it conveniently available. Especially as so many of her recipes, in particular the dal ones, require this. I wish there could be a symbol by the recipe saying it uses this rather than have us waste out time clicking on a recipe only to scroll down and see we can’t make it due to not having the masala.
      Lovely recipes but not very helpful with an over-reliance on the ready-made onion masala and no alternative given so that others may still make it. I think I’ll just guess in future as she never answers these queries so you’ll probably not recieve a reply.

      • Ashley - My Heart Beets says

        Hi Karen, I try to respond to as many comments as I can, but I’m first and foremost a mom of two and second a blogger. With most Indian recipes, it’s not going to drastically affect taste if you’re off by a few cloves of garlic or tomatoes – you can guess and sauté and it’ll likely turn out great. That said, if you want exact measurements, then you’ll want to use the onion masala. It’s easy, saves time, and provides great results. One day, when my kids are older maybe I’ll have time to go back through all recipes and update them but for now, the onion masala is a lifesaver.

  6. Serena says

    I typically make this daal on the stove but wanted to try to use the instant pot, which I use a lot for other recipes. After 5 mins on high pressure, and natural release for maybe 8 minutes, the daal turned into complete mush. It was not usable so I ended up making rice and turning it into khichdi. Any idea what may have gone wrong? And when I mean mush I mean like it was 2 minutes away from soup.

  7. Wendy says

    5 stars
    I made this today for lunch, and it was lovely! The only change I made was adding about 1/2 cup of coconut milk which gave it a smoother taste. I also made your onion masala a couple of weeks ago which is now frozen, and I have used these frozen jewels in a few recipes already, including this one. I love having this ready to go without worrying about cutting up onions and tomatoes. Thanks!

  8. Iris says

    5 stars
    So easy and flavorful. Plus I always have the ingredients in the pantry. I’ve made this a few times.

Show More Comments

instant pot pour and cook chicken biryani

Ashley's Secrets



Favorite tips & tricks to

easy Indian Instant Pot cooking


paneer lababdar

Ashley's Secrets



Favorite tips & tricks to

easy & delicious Indian cooking