Easy Chana Dal Recipe in the Instant Pot: Nutty Flavor & Quick Cooking Tips

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

If you’re craving a hearty, protein-packed dish that’s both delicious and easy to make, chana dal in an Instant Pot is your go-to recipe. Chana dal, or split chickpeas, has been a staple in Indian cuisine for centuries, known for its nutty flavor and rich texture. Cooking it in an Instant Pot not only saves time but also locks in all the essential nutrients.


To create a delicious chana dal in your Instant Pot, you need a few essential ingredients. Below is a detailed list to ensure you have everything ready before starting.

  • 1 cup chana dal: Rinse thoroughly under cold water, then soak for at least 30 minutes.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil: For sautéing the spices.
  • 1 large onion: Finely chopped.
  • 2 tomatoes: Diced.
  • 4 garlic cloves: Minced.
  • 1-inch piece of ginger: Grated.
  • 1 green chili: Slit lengthwise (optional for heat).
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste

Equipment Needed

To prepare chana dal in an Instant Pot, you will need a few essential kitchen tools. Gathering these items beforehand ensures a smooth cooking experience.

Instant Pot

The primary equipment for this recipe is an Instant Pot. Choose the size that best fits your needs; a 6-quart model works well for most households.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Accurate measurements are crucial for achieving the perfect flavor balance. Use measuring cups and spoons to measure out the chana dal, water, spices, and other ingredients.

Fine Mesh Sieve

A fine mesh sieve is necessary for rinsing and soaking the chana dal before cooking. This helps remove impurities and excess starch.

Cutting Board and Knife

You’ll need a sturdy cutting board and a sharp knife to chop onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and green chili.

Mixing Bowl

Use a mixing bowl to soak the chana dal after rinsing it with water. A medium-sized bowl should be sufficient.

Spatula or Wooden Spoon

A spatula or wooden spoon is helpful for stirring ingredients while sautéing them in the Instant Pot’s sauté mode.

Small Bowls or Ramekins

Have small bowls or ramekins on hand to organize pre-measured spices like cumin seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric powder, ground coriander, garam masala, and salt. This makes it easier to add them at different stages of cooking.

Ensuring you have all these pieces of equipment ready before starting your chana dal preparation in an Instant Pot you’ll streamline your process making your cooking experience more efficient and enjoyable.

Preparation Before Cooking

Before you start cooking chana dal in your Instant Pot, it’s essential to complete some preparation steps for the best results.

Rinsing and Soaking Chana Dal

  1. Measure 1 cup of chana dal using a measuring cup.
  2. Place the chana dal in a fine mesh sieve.
  3. Rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear.
  4. Transfer rinsed chana dal to a mixing bowl.
  5. Cover with at least 3 cups of water and let it soak for 30 minutes.

Preparing Ingredients

  1. Gather spices including:
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt to taste
  1. Finely chop:
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  1. Mince:
  • 2 cloves garlic
  1. Grate or mince:
  • A small piece (about an inch) of ginger
  1. Organize all prepared ingredients into small bowls or ramekins for easy access during cooking.

Cooking Instructions

Here’s how to prepare delicious chana dal in your Instant Pot. Follow these steps for a flavorful and satisfying dish.

Setting Up the Instant Pot

  1. Plug In: First, plug in your Instant Pot and ensure it is functioning correctly.
  2. Add Dal: Place the rinsed and soaked chana dal into the inner pot of your Instant Pot.
  3. Add Water: Pour 3 cups of water into the pot with the chana dal.

Cooking the Chana Dal

  1. Close Lid: Securely close the lid of your Instant Pot and set the valve to sealing.
  2. Pressure Cook: Select the ‘Pressure Cook’ or ‘Manual’ setting on high pressure for 12 minutes.
  3. Natural Release: Once cooking is complete, allow a natural pressure release for about 10 minutes before manually releasing any remaining pressure.

Adding Chana Dal and Sautéing

  1. Sauté Mode: Open the lid carefully after all pressure has been released, then select ‘Sauté’ mode on your Instant Pot.
  2. Heat Oil: Add 2 tablespoons of oil or ghee into the pot and let it heat up slightly.
  3. Cumin Seeds & Spices: Add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, stirring until they begin to crackle (about 30 seconds). Then add 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, stirring well to combine.
  4. Onions & Tomatoes: Add finely chopped onions (1 medium onion) and sauté until golden brown (about 5-7 minutes). Next, add chopped tomatoes (2 large tomatoes) and cook until they become soft (about another 5 minutes).
  5. Combine Everything: Stir in cooked chana dal with spices thoroughly combining them together. If needed, adjust salt to taste at this point.

Serving Suggestions

Chana dal is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in various ways. Here are some recommendations to enhance your dining experience.


Pair your chana dal with the following accompaniments for a complete meal:

  • Steamed Basmati Rice: The fluffy texture of basmati rice complements the rich and creamy chana dal perfectly.
  • Naan or Roti: These Indian breads are ideal for scooping up the flavorful dal.
  • Plain Yogurt or Raita: A cool, tangy yogurt side dish balances the spices in the chana dal.
  • Pickles (Achar): Add a spicy and tangy kick with traditional Indian pickles.
  • Papadum: Crispy papadums provide a delightful contrast in texture.


  • Fresh Cilantro Leaves: Sprinkle freshly chopped cilantro over the top for color and freshness.
  • Lemon Wedges: Serve lemon wedges on the side to add a zesty brightness when squeezed on top.
  • Ghee Drizzle: A light drizzle of ghee adds richness and enhances flavor.
  • Red Chili Flakes: For those who enjoy extra heat, sprinkle some red chili flakes before serving.

Storage and Reheating

Proper storage and reheating of your chana dal ensure it retains its delicious flavor and texture.

How to Store

  1. Allow the chana dal to cool completely before storing.
  2. Transfer the cooled chana dal into airtight containers.
  3. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  4. For longer storage, place portions in freezer-safe containers or bags and freeze for up to 3 months.


  1. If frozen, thaw the chana dal in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Transfer desired portions to a microwave-safe bowl or saucepan.
  • Microwave: Cover and heat on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway through until hot.
  • Stovetop: Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until warmed through (approximately 5-7 minutes).
  1. Add a splash of water or broth if needed to reach your preferred consistency while reheating.


Cooking chana dal in an Instant Pot not only saves time but also enhances the flavors and textures of this beloved dish. With easy-to-follow steps, you can effortlessly prepare a nutritious meal that delights your taste buds. Pair it with rice or bread, and don’t forget those delicious sides to elevate your dining experience.

Storing and reheating are straightforward, ensuring you always have a quick meal ready. By mastering these techniques, you’ll find chana dal becoming a staple in your kitchen repertoire. Enjoy the convenience and rich flavors every time you cook this delightful dish!

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