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a 45 degree angle view of red lentil dal.

Red Lentil Dal

This Indian Red Lentil Dal make a rich and protein packed meal for any weeknight. It’s made in instant pot and is a delicious vegan curry to be served with rice. Its flavor packed and yet an easy recipe that is made by using simple pantry staples.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword how to make red lentil dal, red lentil dahl vegan, red lentil dal recipe, vegan red lentil dal
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Pressure time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 210kcal
Author Gunjan



  • Turn on your instant pot at sauté mode and heat oil in it. Add dry red chilies, asafetida (Hing), cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds to the hot oil and let them crackle. Sauté it for 30 seconds to make sure it does not stick.
  • Add onions and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. (do not let the onions get brown).
    onion and garlic
  • Add tomatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add red lentils and mix well.
  • Now, add water, turmeric and salt. Stir and cancel the sauté mode. Close the lid and seal the valve. Turn it on at manual high for10 minutes.
    ready to pressure cook.
  • Once done, turn it off and release the pressure. Open the lid and stir nicely. Garnish and serve over rice or quinoa.


  • For stove top option – heat oil at high flame in stock pot and add the ingredients from step 2. Then follow steps 3-6. Now, bring the flame to medium and cook covered for atleast 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Feel free to stir at intervals to avoid overflowing. Once the lentils are soft, turn off the flame, garnish with cilantro, stir and serve.
  • Variation: combine rinsed red lentil and water in a saucepan. As soon as it starts to boil a foam will be formed at its top which is starch. Spoon out that foam without reducing the quality of water. Once the foam is gone add turmeric and salt to it. Let it cook at medium-high flame until the lentils are soft and done. Turn it off and leave it covered. In another pan heat oil and follow steps 2-4. Let it cook very nicely until tomatoes are mushy. Turn it off and spread this tadka on top of the cooked lentils. Stir and garnish with cilantro.
  • If the refrigerated lentils thicken quite a bit then add very little water and adjust salt. Then warm it up on stove top for the best results.
  • While adding red chilies to the hot oil break them into two pieces. This adds nice spicy flavor to it and also avoids splatter. 


Calories: 210kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 100mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 79IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg