Instant Pot Dal with green or brown lentils simmered in bold aromatic broth is balanced out by the creaminess of coconut milk for an unforgettable taste explosion. A gluten free, vegan 30 minute one pot meal!

You can enjoy other Instant Pot meat free meals too, like Instant Pot vegetarian chili, Instant Pot mac and cheese, or Instant Pot minestrone!

Instant Pot Dal with cilantro and bread being dipped into the dish

Dal is traditionally simmered for a long period until the beans, lentils, or peas (also known as pulses) have split and become tender and creamy. The pressure cooker does it in just 30 minutes!

The bold and flavorful seasoning blend of earthy spices like garam masala, coriander, cayenne, and chili powder gives this comfort food an unforgettable flavor. The cooling effect of the creamy coconut milk brings a lovely balance to the entire Instant Pot dal recipe.

Why Make Instant Pot Lentil Curry Recipe?

  • Budget-friendly: Instant Pot dal is a one pot meal that uses cost effective lentils you can buy in bulk!
  • Easy: These dried beans require no pre-soaking!
  • Highly nutritious: Provides protein, complex carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals like iron, potassium, folate and are loaded with antioxidants.
  • Authentic flavor: Made with beautiful aromatic spices that taste just like you’d find at your favorite Indian restaurant (or you know, India). 

What is dal? A variety of ways to prepare dried lentils or other pulses. It usually resembles a thick puréed soup. There are also many ways to spell it (dahl, dhal, or daal included)!

Instant Pot Dal with yogurt and cilantro stirred in the pressure cooker pot

Ingredients for Instant Pot Dal

  • Onion, garlic, and ginger: Chopped onion. Minced fresh garlic and ginger.
  • Seasonings: Garam masala, ground coriander, chili powder, salt, and cayenne.
  • Oil: Can use olive oil, or coconut oil. If you are OK with regular butter or ghee, you can use that too, keeping in mind it will no longer be vegan.
  • Liquids: Low sodium vegetable broth and tomato paste. Coconut milk, either light or full fat.
  • Lentils: Green, brown, black or red lentils, rinsed, and drained. When you become a pro at making dal, you can branch out and use many other times of pulses (peas, beans, or lentils).
  • Optional: Cilantro, naan or pita bread, and yogurt for serving.
instant pot dal ingredients with lentils coconut milk onion tomato paste vegetable broth chili powder garam masala coriander and garlic

What Type of Lentils Are Used for Dal?

Dal is a way of cooking pulses and each type of dal comes with a different type of lentil. Each lentil has a name! These are just a few of many to get you started on your deep dive into learning about lentils ๐Ÿ™‚

  • This Instant Pot dal recipe: Use green, brown, black, or red lentils.
  • Dal tadka or dal fry recipes: Use yellow split pigeon peas (also called toor dal or arhar dal).
  • Dal makhani: Also called black dal and uses black lentils. 
  • Indian lentil curry – Use brown lentils (also called whole masoor dal).

How to Make Instant Pot Dal

  • Sauté: Press the sauté button on the Instant Pot. When the display says Hot add the oil (or butter), onion, garlic, and ginger and stir occasionally.
  • Add spices: To the pot, add in garam masala, coriander, chili powder, salt, and cayenne and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally.
  • Deglaze: Add in the broth to deglaze the pot. With a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits at the bottom of the pot so that they don’t burn. Press cancel.
  • Pressure cook: Pour in the lentils and stir. Close the lid, set valve to Sealing, and pressure cook on high pressure or manual for 8 minutes. 10 minutes if you like your lentils very soft.
  • Release pressure: Quick Release the pressure by turning the valve to Venting.
  • Thicken the dal: Turn on saute mode again and add the coconut milk and tomato paste. Stir and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally until dal has thickened and the smell is mouthwatering.

Serve it up! Garnish cooked dal with fresh cilantro and serve with naan bread, basmati rice or Instant Pot long grain white rice.

Optional Add-In’s and Variations

So versatile! Instant Pot dal is very customizable to your taste preferences.

  • Substitutions: Instead of garam masala you can use curry powder. You can also combine 1 1/2 tsp of ground cumin and 1/2 tsp allspice.
  • For heat: Add some green chili or dry red chili powder to up the heat a bit. Mustard seeds will add a bit of pungency.
  • Other aromatic spices: Turmeric powder, coriander powder, ground mustard, or ground ginger if you don’t have fresh ginger.
  • Dal gosht: Which means lentils with meat and add lamb or chicken to this recipe.
  • Add veggies: Throw in some spinach or kale for some leafy greens. Peas and diced carrots would be great too.

Tips for Best Results

  • Lentils: I like a bit of bite to my pulses, so I used green lentils at 8 minutes. For a mushier softer dal, use red lentils. Black lentils will remain intact and have a heartier texture.
  • Consistency: Dal will thicken over time. If you are keeping it on the warm function or reheating the next day, add a bit of water or broth. Adjust the consistency to your liking.
  • Coconut milk: I added to milk at the end vs. before cooking as an experiment and quite liked it. Coconut milk has a creamy soothing effect as well, for those occasions when you may be adding too much spice (perfect for this chicken curry)!
  • Lemon juice: Think about squirting in some lemon juice just before serving. It will brighten it up just a bit!


Can I make Instant Pot dahl on the stovetop?

Yes, follow similar instructions and once you’ve added the lentils and liquids, cover and lower the heat to a simmer for about 20 minutes.

Do I need to soak lentils before cooking?


Can I use anything else besides coconut milk?

If you’re not trying to keep it vegetarian or dairy free you can add some plain yogurt in there. Some others have tried cashew milk, oat milk, and heavy cream. You could also omit it completely.

Why is my dal still chewy?

That usually means it’s undercooked and is more likely to happen with brown or black lentils than it is with red. Cover with the lid and allow to sit and continue cooking for a bit.

Can I make this without onion and garlic?

Absolutely. Onion and garlic are aromatics that impart flavor, of course, but this dish has so many other flavor elements you’ll be fine without it.

instant pot dal in a white bowl with cilantro, yogurt and pita

How to Serve Instant Pot Dahl?

How to Store Leftovers

Store: Dal will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Will make great leftovers for healthy lunch ideas and dinners throughout the week.

Freeze: Once fully cooked and completely cooled, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight. If you have made a big batch, store it in smaller batches and only thaw what you need.

Can I make this dal recipe as a freezer meal? To make this a healthy freezer meal, you’ll want to sauté the garlic, onions, and spices first. Then freeze everything except broth, coconut milk, and tomato paste in a freezer friendly airtight container. This way you can skip the initial sauté step and just dump with broth and set it to cook!

Reheat: In a covered pot, simmer on low. Stir occasionally. You might need to add more water or broth to achieve your desired consistency.

More Lentil Recipes to Try

You might also enjoy browsing through my complete collection of vegetarian Instant Pot recipes!

Instant Pot Dal in a bowl for serving with yogurt swirled into it and garnished with cilantro and pita bread
Instant pot dal in a bowl with yogurt and pita.

Instant Pot Dal

Instant Pot Dal with green or brown lentils simmered in bold aromatic broth is balanced out by the creaminess of coconut milk for an unforgettable taste explosion. A gluten free, vegan 30-minute one pot meal.
4.79 from 14 votes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 199
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes



  • On Instant Pot, press Saute and wait until display says Hot.
  • Add oil or butter, onion, garlic and ginger. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add garam masala, coriander, chili powder, salt and cayenne. Saute for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • Add broth and deglaze the pot. Press Cancel.
  • Add lentils and stir. Close the lid, set valve to Sealing and press Pressure Cook on High or Manual for 8 minutes. If you like very soft lentils, do 10 minutes.
  • After release pressure right away using Quick Release by turning valve to Venting.
  • Press Saute and add coconut milk and tomato paste. Stir and cook for 10 minutes uncovered and stirring occasionally. This is when dal will thicken.
  • Serve hot garnished with cilantro and naan bread or rice on a side.


  • Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat in small pot on a stovetop covered on low and stirring occasionally. You might have to add a bit more water or broth to dilute dal to your desired consistency.
  • Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
  • Freezer meal: Sauté the garlic, onions, and spices first. Then freeze everything except the broth, coconut milk, and tomato paste in a freezer friendly airtight container. At cooking time, add broth, proceed with cooking instructions.
  • Lentils: I used green lentils and 8 minutes as I like a bit of a bite to my lentils. Black lentils will stay more intact and red will almost become a mush.
  • Consistency: Add more water or broth if using Keep Warm or next day as dal thickens. Generally, adjust consistency to your liking.
  • Garam masala substitute: Use curry powder entirely or combine 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin+1/2 tsp allspice.
  • Coconut milk after: I experimented and really liked adding coconut milk after pressure cooking. Stew comes out more creamy and milk doesn’t separate.


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 199kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 538mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g
Course: Soup and Stew
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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  1. 2 stars
    This recipe didn’t work at all for me. There needed to be way more broth added to cook that many lentils. My instant pot almost burned on the bottom because there wasn’t enough liquid. The lentils were so undercooked, I had to add even more water at the end with the coconut milk and cook for much longer than 10 minutes. The only reason I gave it 2 stars was because the flavor was ok by the end.

  2. 5 stars
    This was SO good! I’m a newbie to lentils, but this was really easy and tasty. No idea what it’s supposed to taste like because I’ve never had dal before, but now I’ll HAVE to get it at an Indian restaurant because I liked it so much! My husband did, as well. Not so much the toddler and preschooler, but we’ll work on that ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Iโ€™m so happy to read this! Thanks for your positive feedback! I get it about the kids, they will get there.

  3. 5 stars
    Incredible recipe. Doubled the garlic, heavy handed with the ginger, and added significantly more cayenne than the recipe called for as we like spicy. Otherwise, followed the recipe and cooked for 9 minutes, the perfect consistency for us. Not too mushy, with some bite. Finish with liberal amount of cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime.

      1. 5 stars
        This is so good!! I love Garlic so I doubled it.. used 1 Tbs of ginger powder (I didn’t have fresh on hand) and mixed that in at the same time as the rest of the spices. This recipe came out perfect! Served it up with some rice and Naan. I’ll definitely be making this regularly ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. 5 stars
    I love Dhal and used to order at the restaurant as I didn’t know how to cook it. This Instant Pot recipe is affordable, accessible, and very flavourful! This is one of my top vegetarian recipes.

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