Packed with flavor and really simple to make, this instant pot Indian red lentils makes for the perfect vegetarian comfort food!
Creamy, comforting, and PACKED with flavor describes one of my new favorite dishes: Indian red lentils. AKA, masoor dal.
Now, I’m not claiming this Instant Pot version of red lentils is authentic, but I can claim that it’s insanely delicious. I know it doesn’t look like the most appetizing thing out there, but I promise you it’s tasty!
I did a TON of research of the different types of dal and I found that it’s one of those dishes that everyone has their own way of making. There are loads of different varieties with different types of lentils and mix-ins. I decided to focus on masoor dal since it uses red lentils and other easy to find ingredients.
The result is a quick and easy, but flavorful vegetarian dish! It’s kind of a cross between a soup and stew and it’s so so good.
The best part of this recipe is that it takes about 20 minutes in the Instant Pot (including the time it takes to come to pressure) and uses ingredients that I consider pantry staples.
For the base of these red lentils, we use red lentils (duh), simple spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander plus a mix of onion, ginger, and garlic. I told you there was a lot of flavor going on!
For the liquid it’s just plain old water and some crushed tomatoes. Toss it all in the Instant Pot (plus a thai chili for heat some salt!) and in roughly 20 minutes you’ll be ready to dig in.
Now, if we didn’t have enough flavor happening we’ve also got the tadka… AKA the tempering. This is a simple topping of toasted whole spices in ghee and some fresh garlic.
The tadka MAKES THE DISH and is not optional. Seriously, it’s such a good finisher.
You’ll also want to serve your red lentils with plenty of white rice, lots of cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. I also HIGHLY recommend some warm naan bread for dipping. Because you can never go wrong with a side of naan.
- 1 Cup Red Lentils, rinsed well
- 2 ½ Cups Water
- 1 14.5 oz. Can Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 Small Onion, finely diced
- 4 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
- 1 Teaspoon Ginger Paste
- 1 Teaspoon Turmeric
- ½ Teaspoon Cumin
- ½ Teaspoon Coriander
- 1 Dried Red Chili, Bird’s Eye Chili
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ¾ Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- ¾ Teaspoon Black Mustard Seeds
- ¾ Teaspoon Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Ghee
- 4 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
- Cooked Rice
- Hot Nann
- Lime Wedges
- Fresh Cilantro, for garnish
Combine the lentils, water, tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili, and salt. Set the Instant Pot to “pressure cook” on high pressure and set the timer for 5 minutes. Allow a 5 minute natural release before venting the steam.
While your lentils are cooking, combine the cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, and pepper in a small bowl to combine. Heat the ghee in a small sauté pan over high heat. Once it’s very hot, add in the spices – they will spatter and jump around. Allow them to toast for about 15 seconds and then remove the pan from the heat. Immediately add in the sliced garlic, swirling the pan.
Once the garlic is lightly browned, immediately transfer the mixture to a small bowl.
To serve, ladle the lentils over rice and top with a spoonful of the tadka to stir in as you eat. Top with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Warm naan is the perfect accompaniment for dunking!