Whole Masoor Dal (Brown Lentil Curry) recipe made quick and easy in the Instant Pot. This is a no-soak (unless you want to), dump-and-go recipe you can make using any brown lentils. Healthy and flavorful with only 15 minutes of total hands-on time! Naturally vegetarian and vegan optional.


To Pressure Cook

  • 1 cup whole masoor dal (brown lentils), rinsed and drained*
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped (optional, but recommended)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, leave whole – will be crushed later
  • 1/2 tbsp crushed ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

After Cooking:

  • 1 small green chili pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp heaped ground black pepper

For the Tadka (Tempering)

  • 3 tbsp neutral oil 
  • 2 tbsp ghee or butter, or sub more oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1  small onion, quartered and thinly sliced


  • 1/4-1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon or lime juice, or more to taste
  • 2 tbsp cilantro or mint leaves (or a blend of both), chopped


  • Instant Pot (for cooking Dal)
  • Small to Medium Skillet (for Tadka)


To Pressure Cook

  • Add all the ingredients listed under ‘To Pressure Cook’ to the Instant Pot and mix to combine.
  • Secure the lid and set valve to Sealing. Select the Manual/Pressure Cook setting and set time to 20 minutes (18 if pre-soaked) on High Pressure.
  • Once dal is cooked, allow pressure to release for 5 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure.

Tadka (Tempering)

  • In a medium skillet, heat oil and ghee over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and onions and sauté until they turn deeply brown (~8-9 minutes). While onions begin sautéing, move on to the next step.
  • Meanwhile, uncover the lid and select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot, and set it to Less. Crush the garlic by mashing it to the side using a wooden spoon. Add the green chili pepper and ground black pepper listed under ‘After Cooking’. Stir and allow to cook. (It’s natural to stir occasionally, but don’t worry, it won’t stick to the bottom.)
  • Transfer the tadka to the dal in the Instant pot. Continue to simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until you reach the desired consistency.** Use a wooden spoon to mash dal against the edges to enhance texture.
  • Select Cancel to turn off the Instant Pot. Taste and adjust salt, if needed. Add the garam masala, lemon juice, and cilantro and stir it. Serve hot.