Instant Pot Sookhi Urad Dal Sabzi


This is a bit of an unusual lentil preparation. Sookhi urad dal is a dry dal that’s spicy and nutty with sweet caramelized onions throughout.

sookhi dal sabzi

What is Sookhi Dal?

Sookhi dal literally means dry dal. It’s a Punjabi dish made with urad dal that has been split, and its skin removed. It’s meant to be eaten as a sabzi that you scoop up with an Indian flatbread, like roti.

Now here’s the sort of confusing part. When I say this is a dry dal, I don’t mean that it’s moistureless. It’s dry compared to a normal soupy dal, but it’s not like, bone-dry. It’s a mostly-dry lentil sabzi. I just want to be clear about any moisture expectations you may have.

As I’ve already mentioned, you can eat this with roti or simply snack on it by itself. If I were having a Dinner Party, I’d serve this sookhi dal as an appetizer along with Chicken Bhuna and maybe Dhokla. Fun apps to keep in mind for a future dinner party.

“Absolutely delicious! I made it for the first time yesterday and it turned out amazing. It was perfectly cooked and the flavours were spot on. I couldn’t believe that I made it 🙃 (of course with your recipe haha) thank you so much for sharing such great recipes.”

sookhi dal sabzi

This is my (Punjabi) father’s favorite dal – it’s nostalgic for him as it’s a dish my grandma used to make when he was a kid. My mom makes this dal for my dad a couple of times a year, on his birthday, and on their anniversary.

You guys know my dad is pretty particular about food (I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had to test recipes like Rajma, Gajar Halwa, Chana Masala, Dal Halwa before getting his approval). Anyway, over the years, my mom has perfected this dal partly thanks to my dad’s lovable critiques (I promise, he’s sweet about it – like when you ask how something tastes, he’ll first give you a big smile and then say, “well, this needs a liiiittle more/less {blank}” while holding his thumb and pointer finger close together, lol. He’s just really honest). And thanks to both of them, I’m able to share this recipe with you today – Instant Pot style, of course.

sookhi dal sabzi

Thanks to the IP, we can set our pressure cookers and walk away. No need to keep an eye on the lentils. Once they’re done, they’ll be soft but not mushy, perfectly cooked – with the slightest bit of chew.

sookhi dal sabzi

What are Split White Lentils?

Can I talk about how fabulous lentils are for a second? I’m not sure there’s any other food out there that gets me quite as animated as lentils do. It’s just so amazing to me how many different ways there are to use legumes. You can use them to make dal, obviously. You can also grind lentils into flour and then make crazy awesome things with them like fried pakoras, savory cakes, Crispy Dosas and Soft Idli.

Another thing you can do is use the same lentil in various ways. For example, these split white lentils come from whole black urad dal, also known as black gram. If you remove the black exterior, the lentils are white underneath. If you split them, you’ve got the lentils we’re using here.

split skinless urad dal

If you want to learn more about lentils used in Indian cooking, you can read this blog post which includes pictures of different lentils.

sookhi dal sabzi

Give this dry dal a try and let me know what you think! Top the finished dal with crunchy raw onion, spicy green chilies, cilantro, and a squeeze of lemon juice!

Instant Pot Sookhi Dal Sabzi

sookhi dal sabzi

Instant Pot Sookhi Dal Sabzi

5 from 10 reviews
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  • 1 cup split white lentils these are also known as split hulled urad dal, rinse and soak in water for 2 hours
  • 2 tablespoons oil of choice
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 green chili minced
  • 1 cup water



  • ¼ cup cilantro to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion to taste
  • 2 green chilies chopped, to taste
  • Lemon wedges


  • Soak the split white lentils for 2 hours. Drain, rinse and set aside for now.
  • Press saute, add oil and once the oil is hot, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. When the cumin seeds brown, add the onion and green chili and saute for 8-10 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown.
  • Add the garlic, stir, then add the lentils, water, spices and mix well.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook at high pressure for 4 minutes.
  • Naturally release pressure (takes approx. 15 minutes).
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro, onion and green chilies and lemon.
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sookhi dal sabzi

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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. Y Verma says

    5 stars
    The flavor of this dish is delicious – hence the 5 stars! It’s definitely something I’ve never tasted before and I married a Punjabi so have tried a lot of their cuisine! The one thing that is amiss is that the texture of the daal is too firm – more than the slight chew that you indicated the dish should taste like. The only detraction from your recipe is that I soaked the split urad overnight because I couldn’t cook it in time the day before as planned. Any advice? Thanks for another awesome recipe!

  2. Leann says

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! I made it for the first time yesterday and it turned out amazing. It was perfectly cooked and the flavours were spot on. I couldn’t believe that I made it 🙃 (of course with your recipe haha) thank you so much for sharing such great recipes.

  3. Asha says

    5 stars
    Just made it today, fourth time. Love it each time.have tried with both white split urad as well as the split but with skin on. Love it .

  4. Carol says

    5 stars
    Wow! I doubled the recipe because I have teenagers. It turned out perfect! So delicious, I tasted it of course and really wanted to eat the whole huge batch. The dal is the most melt in your mouth buttery texture without losing its form at all. The flavor profile is complex, spot on, and addictive. This is the fourth recipe of yours that I’ve made and I love them all. Also I’ve made onion masala which is magic! I think the way you write your recipes makes Indian cooking easier than ever. Thank you!

  5. Nisha shah says

    What colour urad daal we use? Can you please show pic? As it says black urad daal in recipe ingredients and in method it says white urad daal? Please clarify and advise. Thanks

  6. Cathy says

    Hi Ashley! I tried this today, was wanting something new in the way of dal. It turned out so well! And exactly as you said it would, not too dry but not mushy! I will be making again for sure. It’s the first time using the split urad dal in recipe like this, my education in Indian cooking expands once again lol. Hope you are well, thank you for another great recipe. Cathy

  7. Maddy says

    Turned pasty. Followed the recipe as written but not sure why it didn’t work. This is your first recipe that didn’t work perfectly. Disappointed!

    • My Heart Beets says

      hey Maddy, aw man, that’s so disappointing. I’m really sorry about that! I’m not sure why it turned out that way… I’m sure you only soaked the dal for 2 hours, right? I know the age of the dal can sometimes affect the cook time too. If you want to share a pic in my Indian IP facebook group, perhaps others can also help troubleshoot.

  8. Maneesha says

    Ah another lentil lover! Ashley, you and I are so much alike! 🙂 I’m excited to try this version of urad daal! Our family recipe entails heating oil, then adding asofeitida, then the daal, then turmeric, coriander-cumin powder, chili powder, garam masala, salt. I’m excited to try your recipe!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Maneesha 🙂 I can’t wait to hear what you think of this! My mom actually uses hing when she makes this but I removed it from the recipe (only change I made) because every time I tested it using hing I think I either kept adding too big of a pinch or burning it because it made the dish a little bitter. Let me know how it goes if you add hing – really curious!

      • Maneesha says

        5 stars
        Hi Ashley! I just made this and also included the Hing, and turned out well! I added just a dash (literally, I just quickly squeezed the lil bottle for a dash to mix with the jeera and mustard seeds). I really like the addition of amchur in this dish! I’ve never added amchur to a sookha Daal, so this was truly a treat! Per usual, I will share this recipe with my friends and family! <3

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