Instant Pot Spiced Yellow Lentils (Toor Dal)


This bowl of spiced yellow lentils is an everyday dal that can be made quickly and easily in an Instant Pot, especially if you have onion masala in your fridge or freezer.

Instant Pot Toor Dal

This dal is so flavorful and comforting! Spiced yellow lentils make for a quick and easy dal recipe, perfect for a weeknight or when you don’t have much time to prepare dinner. As long as you’ve got yellow lentils (toor dal) in the pantry and onion masala in the fridge (or freezer), then you can prepare this in an Instant Pot in around thirty minutes, with the majority of that time being hands-off.

An onion masala recipe:

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, store it, and find other recipes that call for it.

The type of lentil used in this dal has many names, but it is most commonly known as toor dal. In English, these lentils are known as split pigeon peas (yellow). This type of lentil is prevalent in Indian cooking, used in north and south India – but primarily south.  It’s the lentil known for being in sambar, a delicious south Indian tamarind vegetable stew.

This is what split pigeon peas (toor dal) looks like:

toor dal split pigeon peas yellow lentils

Because they are a split legume, they cook quickly and call for a short soak time. You can get away without soaking these lentils, but if you’ve read my other dal posts, you know I typically suggest soaking lentils because I find it helps with digestion. To each their own 🙂

Serve this simple dal with a side of plain basmati rice or brown basmati rice or if you’re feeling a little fancy, then serve it with my pea pulao.

Instant Pot Toor Dal

Instant Pot Spiced Yellow Lentils (Toor Dal)

Instant Pot Toor Dal

Instant Pot Spiced Yellow Lentils (Toor Dal)

4.91 from 11 reviews
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  • Soak the lentils in cold water for 15-20 minutes. 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 serrano pepper to the pot. Once the cumin seeds brown, add the remaining ingredients to the pot.
  • 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)
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve.



  • This recipe is part of my onion masala series – be sure to check it out!
  • If you have frozen cubes of onion masala, just toss those in – no need to thaw them first.
  • This dal will thicken as it cools. When you warm up leftovers, you may need to add water or stock to thin it out on the stovetop.
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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. Anu says

    Thank you for the recipe! I use instant pot without issues all the time but for some reason my lentils also turn out uncooked even after 30-40 mins, even after I soak for 5-10 mins. Any advice for me?

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Anu, yeah something is definitely up – toor dal should be well cooked in that amount of time. My thoughts: perhaps the pot was not sealed well? Otherwise, it could be that the beans are very old – have you successfully been able to use them in other cases?

  2. Debbie says

    Thank you for this onion masala make ahead method and list of recipes. I’ve made several batches of masal Anschluss several recipes with much success. However, you’re site hasn’t become so littered with ads that using your site has become a major exercise in frustration. Ads and the instant video pop up make the site ver user unfriendly. I sure hope you’ll clean it up so I can get back to using it.

  3. Janine says

    5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! We make it every few weeks, usually a double batch, and my daughter and I eat it throughout the week for lunch. The onion masla is made and I always keep extra in the freezer to make it easy. The only change I made was to use dried chili’s (I use two) cut in half instead of the fresh Serrano pepper.

  4. Jax says

    Hi ashley love your recipes. However I tried to make this with toor dal and it turned out brown not yellow. What could I have done wrong please?

  5. Andie Early says

    I don’t have whole cumin seeds. I’ve been putting off my trip to the store… Can I use ground cumin seeds or does it really have to be whole for this recipe?

  6. Aly Khan Merali says

    Hey Ashley,

    I’ve made this twice in the last two weeks and it’s honestly delicious. I added 3 hot peppers cause I love spicy food. Are there any additional things that I could add to the dal to add even more flavor? Like how would adding extra garam masala or something else affect the recipe? I would do it myself but I’d rather not make 4 servings of dal for myself that tastes worse than what you’ve already prescribed and just ask if you have any suggestions.

    By the way, this site saves my life being a student!


    Aly Khan

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Aly! I’m so happy to hear that you like this dal so much! If you want to add even more flavor, try adding a tadka! Just heat up some ghee in a small pot, then add some aromatics to it (whole cumin seeds, sliced garlic, red chili powder, a pinch of hing/asofetida) and pour this ghee (along with the spices) right over the dal before serving. It’s a bit more work but a great way to spice up dal!

  7. veronica bellotti says

    5 stars
    This was delishious!! I had made some Parathas to go with your Butter Chicken and so thought Id make the Dal too.Iv just had a bowl of it now with a couple of Parathas as I couldnt wait till tomorrow to eat with curry with my son daughter and son in law.

  8. Kim says

    5 stars
    I made this for a potluck and everyone loved it and some Indian friends even said it tasted authentic. I ended up adding 1/3 teaspoon of sherry vinegar which rounded the flavors out a bit. Thank you for the great recipe. It’s very easy to make and very satisfying to eat.

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