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!

Instant Pot Red Lentil Dal (Masoor Dal)

instant pot red lentil dal (masoor dal)

Instant Pot Red Lentil Dal (Masoor Dal)

4.93 from 13 reviews
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  • 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.
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instant pot red lentil dal (masoor dal)

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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. Raven says

    5 stars
    This recipe is wonderful, it’s one of my absolute favorite go to recipes! It’s super easy and is packed with so much flavor. I like to roast cauliflower and put this over it, such a wonderful combo. Thank you for your amazing recipes!!

  2. Ellen Peterson says

    Love how Masoor took over your blog to set the record straight 🙂 This dal was the first dal I ever tasted and is comfort food now. Thank you!

  3. MargoLondinium says

    5 stars
    This is the BEST red lentil dhal I have ever made or eaten, by far! The onion masala gives the humble red lentil a delicious richness and the finished dhal is so creamy and unctuous! Yummy! Thanks for this recipe 🙂

  4. Lisa says

    5 stars
    Made a double batch in my 8 qt Instant Pot. Replaced the serrano with half a jalapeño since that’s what I had. Just finished eating some over rice, with a dollop of yogurt, some green chili pickle, and chundo. Delicious! The Prince of Bangladesh (AKA my boyfriend) even asked for seconds!

  5. Andy Dennis says

    4 stars
    Tasty. I have made this a few times now and it has come out very thin and watery (although flavorful). I’m thinking about using less water next time, or draining some water off before I blend it. I prefer the texture and consistency of the Chana dal recipe which is stiffer – more like a squash soup. Thanks, Ashley for your recipes – I got an instant pot earlier this year and dove head first into making Indian food (even though I had never previously attempted it). Your website has been a major resource!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Glad you like it, Andy. I think consistency is a matter of preference when it comes to dal, so feel free to add less water if you prefer. This dal thickens as it sits, so if you use less, you may end up needing to add more when reheating. Glad to hear you like the chana dal as well!

  6. Sana says

    5 stars
    Made this tonight as I needed a quick and easy recipe and had onion masala on hand. Omitted the serrano pepper and red chili for my toddler and despite that, it tasted lovely. Toddler approved too!

  7. Jean M says

    5 stars
    I made the onion masala a couple of days ago and made this last night after a long day at work. So freaking good and so simple to make! My husband and I both loved the soup and are enjoying leftovers for today’s lunch!

    I can’t wait to try other recipes using the onion masala. I love time savers for weekdays.

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