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Red Lentil Dal in the Instant Pot

4.69 from 60 votes

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This Red Lentil Dal cooks quickly in the Instant Pot. Serve it with rice for a high protein comfort meal.

Two bowls of red lentil dal and rice with green napkin and sprig of parsley

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This creamy, hearty dish is a perfect comfort food meal. So easy to make, and so easy to customize the spices and veggies to your taste.

This recipe is not just easy and delicious, but is loaded with nutrients! Essentially fat free, vegan, and gluten free, it has tons of protein, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. All these nutrients and healthy carbohydrates will fuel your body and keep you feeling energized.

It also keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer, making it ideal for meal prep.

What is Dal?

Some time back, I attended an Indian cooking class at Bob’s Red Mill. In the class, I learned that dal (also spelled daal or dahl) is the Indian term for legumes, as well as the term for the thick soup or stew made from them. The instructor told us of a school in India where the students are served dal every day, and they never eat the same recipe in a month!

The variety of dal I chose for this recipe is red lentils or Masoor Dal. Red lentils are so wonderful to cook with because they cook so quickly and break down into a creamy consistency. I also love their vibrant color!

What’s in this red lentil dal recipe?

Bowls of ingredients for red lentil dal
  • Red lentils
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Red bell pepper
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Vegetable broth
  • Curry powder
  • Spices: cumin, paprika, turmeric, red pepper flakes, and black pepper
  • Kale

Flavoring this lentil dal

In traditional Indian cooking, whole spices are tempered in oil in the beginning of the cooking process. With oil free cooking, there are a couple of alternative options.

Whole spices can be dry toasted and then ground or left whole. They are then added in after vegetables such as onions and garlic are sauteed. Another option is to use ground spices rather than whole spices. Since I wanted to make this recipe as easy as possible, this is the option I use in this recipe.

How to Make Vegetable Dal in the Instant Pot

Diced vegetables in Instant Pot
Saute the onion, carrots, celery, and red pepper
Uncooked ingredients in the Instant Pot
Add the remaining ingredients to the pot
Garlic & ginger added to vegetables in Instant Pot
Add the garlic and ginger to the pot
Large spoonful of red lentil dal held over pot of dal
Mmm…creamy and delicious!

To make the Vegetable Dal, begin by sorting your lentils. To do this, spread them out in a large bowl or baking pan and check for rocks or debris. Nobody wants to bit into a rock while eating this dish. Rinse the lentils well, until the rinse water runs clear. Set them aside.

Next, sauté the onion, bell pepper, celery , and carrots in the Instant Pot on the sauté setting in just a little bit of water. Add more water as needed to keep the vegetables from sticking.

Once the onion is translucent, add the garlic and ginger and sauté for just a couple more minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.

Then simply add the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Set the pot on the manual setting for 10 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally. Open pot, stir, and enjoy!

Two bowls of dal and rice with Instant Pot in background

What to serve with Dal

Serve this red lentil dahl over rice or quinoa. It’s also delicious with some flatbread such as naan.

How to Store and Freeze Red Lentil Dal

Leftover dal can be stored in a jar or other air tight container in the refrigerator for 5 days. For longer storage, it can be frozen for up to 3 months. Dal can be reheated in the microwave or in a pot on the stove.

This red lentil dal recipe is:

  • Vegan/Plant based
  • Dairy free
  • Gluten free
  • Soy free
  • Oil free
  • Nutrient rich
  • Easy
  • Comforting
  • A great recipe for meal prep
  • So delicious!
  • A perfect weeknight dinner

For more oil-free Instant Pot recipes, see:

And don’t miss my roundup of over 25 oil free vegan Instant Pot recipes from around the web!

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a rating and feedback below. It only takes a few seconds, but helps other visitors to my site. Thank you for taking the time to leave your comment!

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Two bowls of red lentil dal and rice with green napking and sprig of parsley

Red Lentil Dal in the Instant Pot

Teresa Sklenicka
This Instant Pot Vegetable Dal cooks quickly in the Instant Pot. Serve it with rice for a high protein comfort meal.

4.69 from 60 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6
Calories 234 kcal


  • Instant Pot


  • 1 onion diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 14.5 ounce canned diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ cup red lentils
  • 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chopped kale


  • In the Instant Pot, sauté the onions, pepper, celery, and carrots in a couple tablespoons of water until the onions are translucent, adding a small amount of water if the vegetable start to stick.
  • Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, and cook on the manual setting for 10 minutes with a natural pressure release.
  • Serve over rice or quinoa.


Calories: 234kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 14gFat: 2.5gSaturated Fat: 0.6gSodium: 739mgFiber: 8.4gSugar: 4.4gVitamin A: 5750IUVitamin C: 60.2mgCalcium: 90mgIron: 4.9mg
Keyword dal, Gluten Free, lentils, Oil Free, Vegan
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Nutrition calculations are approximate.

By on June 9th, 2019

About Teresa Sklenicka

I love creating tasty, oil-free, vegan recipes that everyone will love (even non-vegans)! Here you'll find vegan versions of your favorite comfort foods, as well as some new tastes! Join me on a path to improving your health, helping the planet, and saving animals.

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13 thoughts on “Red Lentil Dal in the Instant Pot”

  1. 5 stars
    Made this today and boy, it was delicious. It looked so pretty too with the kale in it. Next time I’d add more than 2 cups of kale. Thanks for posting this.

    • Follow the ingredients as written, but cook it in a large pot. After adding the red lentils, broth, and seasonings, bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer on low, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the lentils have started breaking apart and thickening the dal. You may need to add another 1/2 to 1 cup of water since there will be more evaporation when cooking on the stove top, but the dal should be fairly thick when cooked.

    • Oh, my goodness! I can’t believe I didn’t specify. I’ve updated the recipe card. It should be a 14.5 ounce can.

  2. 5 stars
    Didn’t have the red bell pepper or kale, but made it anyway. It was FANTASTIC and even better the next day. Added a touch of heat with cayenne.

    • It’s possible that a double recipe would fit in an 8 qt Instant Pot. Mine is 6 qt, and it only fills the pot about halfway. I can’t guarantee that it will fit, though.

  3. 5 stars
    made a soup version. I added green peppers and followed the instructions as is. I didn’t have kale, celery, carrots or ginger- used 1 cup lentils, so it made for a thick creamy soup. Really flavorful ! This recipe is easily adjusted and adaptable. I don’t think you can screw it up. I’m a newbie in the kitchen. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    Made this vegetable dal for dinner a couple nights ago, & it was a hit w/ entire family! I followed directions pretty much exactly, using red pepper flakes but only a tiny pinch. We love Indian food in restaurants but my home attempts usually are not this successful. Our family at home right now consists of three adults: 2 vegan parents & an omnivore son home between semesters in med school. I do not cook animal foods for my son; he eats our vegan dishes without complaint but often adds cheese or frozen meatballs. This vegetable dal, however, was a hit with him as well-with no additions. It will become a part of our food rotation!


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