Moong Dal halwa made in the instant pot is an easy version of a rich and delicious Indian dessert. Cooked and mashed mung lentils are roasted in ghee, cardamom, saffron and sugar to make an irresistibly sweet halwa that is served on special occasions in India.
When you think of Indian desserts, halwa comes to mind at once. Picture a soft, aromatic and sweet confection made of roasted lentils and topped with nuts and cardamom, and you have arrived at the correct mental image. Now picture putting it in your mouth and eating it. Mmm! It is an experience like no other.
Here are some more halwa recipes if this is what you crave. Besan halwa, suji halwa and carrot halwa are all delightful preparations, impossible to resist if you have a sweet tooth.
However, all this deliciousness is not easy to come by. Making halwa the traditional way takes some arm work. I used to quail at the thought of making halwa but at least some steps like soaking and grinding the dal are eliminated in the instant pot. Ever since this appliance has come into my life, I have started making quite a few things I had almost given up on including this rice kheer recipe and this sweet potato kheer.
Note: Exact amounts are given in the recipe card further down in this post.
- Split Moong or mung lentils
- Cardamom seeds, crushed
- Saffron, dissolved in a few tablespoons of warm milk
- Nuts - almonds, pistachios
- White, granulated sugar
1. Roast the moong dal on the sauté setting in the instant pot until it turns a dark yellow in colour and gives off a distinctive roasted aroma. This takes around 10-12 minutes of constant stirring on high heat. There is no need to soak or grind the dal as in the traditional recipe. Here's a picture to see the difference between unroasted and roasted moong lentils.
2. Add 3 cups water to the lentils and pressure cook for 15 minutes on high pressure. Release the remaining pressure after 10 minutes and immediately mash the dal with the back of a wooden spoon. This is the quickest and simplest thing to do as well-cooked moong dal gets mashed easily.
3. Add melted ghee, saffron and cardamom to the dal and roast the mixture with the wooden spoon like your life depended on it. This is a slightly tricky step because if you stop roasting the mixture for even a minute, it will stick to the pot. Not an easy thing to do when your muscles are screaming in protest, but it is essential. If you want a truly delicious halwa with no hint of rawness, you will have to move the ghee-infused dal in a vigorous to and fro motion almost constantly for 15 minutes at least. The result is worth it, I promise!
Note: once the mixture is well-roasted, it will appear shiny and smooth and leave the sides of the pot. This is an indication that it is done. Now is the time to mix in the sugar.
4. Once you're done with step 3, the hard part is over and the halwa is almost ready. Just mix in the sugar, stir a bit more (2 minutes) to incorporate the sugar into the mixture and you're done. Spoon out the halwa in a pretty dish, top with nuts and serve warm. Sit back and enjoy the oohs and aahs:)
1. Mash the dal while it is still hot after getting cooked in the instant pot. Once it cools down, it becomes difficult to mash it and you might end up with a few whole grains of dal in the halwa.
2. If the dal is too dry (15 minutes of pressure cooking can dry it out), add a quarter cup hot water or milk to loosen it a bit and mix it in.
3. After adding the ghee, roast the dal on a low to medium saute setting, never high or it will stick to the bottom of the pot or burn. It is tempting to do it on high heat to hasten the cooking, but you don't want to have to clean burnt bits at the end.
4. Don’t stop stirring the halwa after adding the ghee or it will stick. This is the most important tip in the whole halwa making process if you want a smooth, well-roasted and lump-free halwa.
More Indian desserts you might like
- Shahi Tukray - A 'royal' (shahi) dessert made with bread slices soaked in sugar syrup, milk and cream, and topped with nuts.
- Rasmalai Cake - An eggless cake drizzled with a delicious sweet sauce called rabri.
- Rasgulla - Soft and spongy balls made of a special cheese called chena and soaked in sugar syrup.
- Coconut Barfi - Dessicated coconut, condensed milk and ghee come together in this simple but delicious fudge-like sweet.
Moong Dal Halwa
- 6-quart Instant Pot Duo
- 1 ½ cups mung dal
- 3 cups water
- 1 ¼ cups ghee
- 1 ¼ cups white sugar
- ½ teaspoon cardamom seeds crushed
- ¼ tsp saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon milk
- ¼ cup almonds chopped
- ¼ cup pistachios chopped
- Switch on the instant pot and press sauté. Adjust to 'more' on the panel. Add the moong dal and stir constantly in a to and fro motion with a wooden spoon until the dal is well roasted and turns dark yellow (10-12 minutes).
- Cancel sauté and add water. Secure the lid, make sure the steam release handle is on 'sealing' and press the pressure cooking button (high). Set the timer to 15 minutes.
- When the timer beeps, wait for 10 minutes, then release pressure. Open the pot and mash the cooked dal with the back of the wooden spoon until it is smooth.
- Melt the ghee and add to the dal along with cardamom and saffron dissolved in milk. Press sauté again and adjust to the 'normal' setting'. Roast this mixture vigorously and continuously with a wooden spoon for 15 minutes. You will see that the mixture will appear shiny and smooth and leave the spoon after being well roasted.
- Now, add sugar and roast for 2 minutes more. The sugar will melt in the hot halwa.
- Sprinkle the halwa with nuts and some extra cardamom if you want and serve warm.
- Mash the dal while it is still hot after getting cooked in the instant pot.
- If the dal is too dry (15 minutes of pressure cooking can dry it out), add a quarter cup hot water or milk to loosen it a bit and mix it in.
- After adding the ghee, roast the dal on a low to medium saute setting, never on high or it will stick to the bottom of the pot or burn.
- Don’t stop stirring the halwa after adding the ghee or it will stick. This is the most important tip in the whole halwa making process if you want a smooth, well-roasted and lump-free halwa.
It was the first time I ever made any halwa at all. My husband loved it. Our guests took some home with them too.
I did mistakenly leave the natural pressure to release for 9 additional minutes. It was very pasty and watery so I added some powder milk, which helped bring back the texture. A night in the fridge made the halwa perfect in consistency.
I will definitely try other recipes by Saima. Thank you for sharing your super simple recipes with us lost newbies.
Afreina, thank you so much. I'm happy to know that your guests enjoyed the moong dal halwa too!
Can I add milk instead of water?
Asra, I haven't made it with milk yet, but you could try. It will change the taste and look completely though.