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Dal Fry (Spiced Lentils)

A simple dal fry with Indian bread or rice and a curry of your choice is the ultimate comfort food and an easy, no-fuss meal. Pigeon pea lentils or toor dal is first tempered with onions, tomatoes and spices in the instant pot, then pressure-cooked to perfection.
Course Brunch
Cuisine Indian
Keyword dal fry, Indian lentil soup, instant pot lentils, toor dal
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 88.3kcal


  • 6-quart Instant Pot Duo


  • 1 cup pigeon pea lentils toor dal
  • 2 teaspoon ghee or cooking oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small tomato
  • ½ inch piece ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • salt to taste
  • 2 sprigs fresh herbs - cilantro or parsley for garnishing
  • 1-2 green chillies for garnishing



  • Wash and soak the dal in 2 cups water.
  • Mince the ginger and garlic.
  • Dice the onion.
  • Chop the tomato.


  • Turn on the instant pot and press the saute button. Wait for the display to show HOT. Add the ghee and cumin seeds.
  • After a few seconds, add the diced onion. Fry for 2 minutes or until the onions soften.
  • Add the ginger, garlic, tomato, powdered spices (red chilli, turmeric and coriander) and salt. Roast this masala for 2 minutes, adding splashes of water to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cancel the sauté mode.
  • Add the lentils along with the water in which they were soaked. Close the lid, make sure the steam valve is set to sealing, press the pressure cooking button (high) and set the timer to 12 minutes. When the timer beeps, wait for 10 minutes, then release the rest of the steam by turning the steam valve to venting. Open the lid.
  • If the lentils are too thick, add ¼ cup water and mash with the back of a spoon. Press the sauté button again and simmer for 5 minutes so that the lentils get incorporated into the liquid.
  • Take the dal out in a bowl and garnish with parsley or cilantro. Serve hot with naan or white rice.


  1. If you want a vegan dal fry, use a neutral cooking oil of your choice instead of ghee.
  2. For a non-spicy dal, substitute the red chilli powder with paprika.
  3. If you don't have pigeon pea lentils, make this dal with red lentils. In this case, wash the lentils but don't soak them, reduce the pressure cooking time to 4 minutes, and release pressure after 5 minutes.
  4. Look at the body of the post to cook the dal and rice together in the instant pot.


Calories: 88.3kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.4g | Protein: 3.4g | Fat: 2.8g | Saturated Fat: 1.7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 592.3mg | Fiber: 3.4g | Sugar: 0.8g