Easy and Flavorful Masoor Dal in Instant Pot: A Complete Guide to Cooking, Serving, and Storage

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Are you craving a hearty, nutritious meal that’s both quick and easy to prepare? Masoor dal, or red lentils, is a staple in Indian cuisine known for its rich flavor and high protein content. With the help of an Instant Pot, you can whip up this delicious dish in no time, making it perfect for busy weeknights or when you need a comforting bowl of goodness.


For Masoor Dal

  • 1 cup Masoor dal (red lentils), rinsed and drained
  • Ensure to rinse the lentils thoroughly until the water runs clear.
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
  • Use ghee for a richer taste or oil for a lighter option.
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Adds a warm, earthy flavor and aids digestion.
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • For a sweet and savory base flavor.
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • Provides acidity and sweetness to balance the spices.
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Enhances the dish with a pungent, aromatic depth.
  • 1-inch ginger, minced
  • Adds a zesty, spicy undertone.
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • For color and a subtle earthy bitterness.
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • Adds a citrusy note that complements the other spices.
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • A blend of spices for a complex flavor profile.
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • 3 cups water
  • Needed to cook the lentils to a perfect consistency.

For Masoor Dal

  • 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
  • Ghee imparts a rich flavor, but oil is a lighter option.
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Adds a nutty, pungent flavor.
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Complements the mustard seeds with an earthy note.
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • Provides a smoky heat to the dish.
  • 10 fresh curry leaves
  • Adds a distinct aromatic flavor and fragrance.
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • Offers a slight onion-garlic flavor, balancing the spices.

Ensure you have all your ingredients prepped and measured before starting to make cooking smooth and efficient.

Equipment Needed

To prepare a delicious Masoor Dal using your Instant Pot, you’ll need some essential kitchen tools and equipment. Here is a detailed list of what you will need:

Instant Pot

The star of this recipe, an Instant Pot, is essential for quick and efficient cooking. It will help you cook the lentils to perfection, while also preserving their nutrients and flavors.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Precise measurements are crucial for the perfect balance of flavors. Use measuring cups and spoons to ensure you add the right amounts of lentils, spices, and other ingredients.

Cutting Board and Knife

A sturdy cutting board and a sharp knife are important for chopping onions, tomatoes, and other fresh ingredients. These tools will make your prep work quick and safe.

Spatula or Wooden Spoon

A spatula or wooden spoon is necessary for stirring the ingredients in the Instant Pot. They help in evenly distributing the spices and preventing the dal from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Bowls for Prep

Having a few bowls on hand for diced onions, minced garlic, chopped tomatoes, and measured spices will keep your workspace organized and make the cooking process smoother.

Serving Ladle

A serving ladle will come in handy for serving the hot, flavorful Masoor Dal directly from the Instant Pot to your plate or bowl.

  • Garlic Press: For quickly mincing garlic.
  • Citrus Juicer: If you want to add a fresh squeeze of lemon juice to your dal before serving.
  • Immersion Blender: If you prefer a smoother consistency for your dal, an immersion blender can be used directly in the Instant Pot.

Having these tools and equipment ready will make your cooking experience seamless and enjoyable, resulting in a delicious Masoor Dal that’s ready to savor.

Preparation Steps

In this section, you will learn the essential steps to prepare Masoor Dal using an Instant Pot. Following these steps carefully will ensure that your dish turns out perfect every time.

Rinsing and Sorting the Lentils

  1. Measure out 1 cup of Masoor dal (red lentils) using a measuring cup.
  2. Pour the lentils into a fine mesh sieve.
  3. Rinse the lentils under cold running water to remove any dirt and debris. Use your hand to gently agitate the lentils.
  4. Check the lentils for any stones or foreign particles and remove them.
  5. Once thoroughly rinsed, set the lentils aside to drain.

Preparing the Aromatics

  1. Measure out the following spices and seasonings, placing each in small prep bowls:
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon of red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  1. Peel and finely chop 1 medium-sized onion. Set aside.
  2. Peel and mince 2 cloves of garlic. Set aside.
  3. Grate a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger or use 1 teaspoon of ginger paste. Set aside.
  4. Chop 1 medium-sized tomato into small pieces. Set aside.
  5. Measure out 2 tablespoons of cooking oil or ghee.
  6. Have 2 cups of water or vegetable broth ready for cooking.
  7. Measure 1 teaspoon of salt or adjust to taste.
  8. Optionally, prepare some freshly chopped cilantro for garnish.

These preparation steps ensure all your ingredients are ready, making the cooking process smooth and efficient.

Cooking Instructions

Follow these detailed steps to make a delicious and nutritious Masoor Dal in your Instant Pot.

Setting Up the Instant Pot

  1. Prepare the Instant Pot: Plug in your Instant Pot and set it to the ‘Sauté’ mode. Allow the pot to heat up for a minute or two.
  2. Add Oil and Aromatics: Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot. Once the oil is hot, add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for about 30 seconds.
  3. Sauté Onions and Ginger-Garlic: Add 1 finely chopped onion and sauté until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons of minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of grated ginger. Sauté for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

Adding Spices and Lentils

  1. Add Tomatoes and Spices: Add 2 finely chopped tomatoes to the pot. Sauté until they soften and blend with the onions. Stir in 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon of coriander powder, and 1 teaspoon of garam masala. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  2. Add Lentils and Water: Pour in 1 cup of rinsed and drained Masoor dal. Stir well to mix with the spices. Add 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix everything thoroughly.
  3. Pressure Cook: Secure the Instant Pot lid and set the valve to the sealing position. Cancel the ‘Sauté’ mode and set the Instant Pot to ‘Manual’ or ‘Pressure Cook’ mode on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  4. Natural Release: Once the cooking cycle is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Afterward, carefully switch the valve to the venting position to release any remaining pressure.
  5. Finish and Serve: Open the lid and stir the dal well. Adjust salt and spices as needed. If you prefer a thicker dal, you can set the Instant Pot to ‘Sauté’ again and simmer for a few minutes until it reaches your desired consistency. Serve hot with rice or naan.

Carefully following these steps, you will have a flavorful, comforting bowl of Masoor Dal ready to enjoy.

Serving Suggestions

Now that your Masoor Dal is ready, it’s time to think about how best to serve this delicious and nutritious dish.

Garnishing Ideas

Enhance the aesthetics and flavor of your Masoor Dal with these garnishing ideas:

  • Fresh Cilantro: Roughly chop a handful of fresh cilantro leaves. Sprinkle them generously over the dal for a burst of color and a hint of herbal freshness.
  • Sliced Red Onion: Thinly slice a small red onion. Lay the slices across the top of the dish for a crunchy and slightly pungent contrast.
  • Lemon Wedges: Serve with lemon wedges on the side. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the dal before eating for a zesty kick.
  • Ghee or Butter: Add a dollop of ghee or butter on top for a luscious, rich finish.
  • Green Chilies: Finely chop green chilies for those who enjoy an extra spicy kick. Scatter them lightly for a touch of heat.
  • Crushed Roasted Cumin Seeds: Lightly crush some roasted cumin seeds and sprinkle them over the dal. This adds a warm, smoky flavor.


Complement your Masoor Dal with these traditional and tasty accompaniments:

  • Steamed Basmati Rice: Serve your dal over a bed of fluffy, steamed basmati rice. The rice absorbs the flavors beautifully and makes for a satisfying meal.
  • Naan or Roti: Pair the dal with warm, soft naan or roti. Use the bread to scoop up the dal for a delightful eating experience.
  • Papad: Crisp up some papad (thin, crispy Indian flatbreads) and serve them on the side. They add a delightful crunch to your meal.
  • Pickled Vegetables: Include a selection of Indian pickled vegetables (achar) to add tangy, spicy notes that complement the dal’s earthiness.
  • Yogurt or Raita: A bowl of plain yogurt or cucumber raita helps balance the flavors and provides a cooling counterpoint to the dal’s spices.

These accompaniments and garnishing ideas will help elevate your Masoor Dal, turning a simple meal into a delightful culinary experience.

Make-Ahead Tips

Batch Cooking and Storage

Prepare a large batch of Masoor Dal in your Instant Pot to save time during the week. Once cooked, allow the dal to cool to room temperature. Divide into individual portions and store in airtight containers. Keep them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, reheat in a microwave or on the stovetop, adding a splash of water or broth to retain the desired consistency.

Prepping Ingredients in Advance

Wash and soak the lentils ahead of time to enhance the texture and reduce cooking time. Chop onions, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger in advance, storing them in separate containers in the refrigerator. For the spice blend, pre-measure your spices and keep them in a small container or spice box. These steps will expedite the cooking process when you are ready to assemble your dish.

Reheating Tips

When reheating refrigerated or frozen Masoor Dal, consider using the Instant Pot’s sauté function for the best results. This method evenly warms the dal, helping to preserve its texture and flavor. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking, and adjust the consistency with water or broth if needed. Garnish freshly with cilantro, green chilies, or a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.

Enhancing Flavors Over Time

Masoor Dal flavors deepen and meld over time, making it an ideal make-ahead dish. If stored overnight or longer, you’ll notice richer flavors developing. When reheating, taste and adjust the seasoning—particularly salt and lemon juice—to refresh the dish’s vibrant taste. Adding a fresh infusion of tempered spices (tadka) during reheating can also elevate the flavor profile.

Meal Planning with Masoor Dal

Include Masoor Dal as part of your weekly meal prep routine. Pair portions with pre-cooked rice or quinoa for easy grab-and-go lunch options. Transform leftovers into new dishes like dal paratha or dal soup. This strategy ensures you have a nutritious and versatile meal ready without much effort throughout your week.


Mastering Masoor Dal in an Instant Pot can transform your meal planning. With the right tools and techniques, you can create a flavorful, nutritious dish that fits seamlessly into your weekly routine. Batch cooking and proper storage ensure you always have a delicious meal ready to go. Prepping ingredients in advance and using reheating techniques can save you time while enhancing the dish’s flavors. Whether you’re new to cooking or a seasoned pro, these tips will help you enjoy Masoor Dal effortlessly, making it a staple in your kitchen.

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