Discover the flavors and simplicity of whole masoor dal cooked effortlessly in an Instant Pot. Packed with plant-based protein, sabut masoor dal can be prepared in just 30 minutes, catering to busy schedules without compromising on flavor. This vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly dish is a wholesome option that will leave you satisfied and content.
Whole masoor dal, also known as sabut masoor dal or brown lentils, is a popular legume used in Indian cuisine. It is a small, lens-shaped lentil that is dark brown in color. The term "whole" refers to the fact that the lentil is not split, and the skin is left intact. Making dal for everyday meals is an integral part of Indian cooking and there are several varieties of lentils prepared in Indian households.
This Instant Pot recipe for whole masoor dal provides a delicious and comforting dish that can be prepared quickly, with just 10 minutes of hands-on time. This everyday dal is a vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly dish, perfect for those following specific dietary restrictions.
Also known as saboot masoor dal, this Instant Pot dhal pairs exceptionally well with both basmati rice and roti/naan. It can also be served alongside whole millet like sorghum, red rice, or quinoa for a wholesome meal.
Brown lentils are unskinned red lentils that are highly popular. They offer a wealth of benefits, including being a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These lentils are low in calories, have a low glycemic index, and are particularly rich in iron, making them an excellent protein source for vegetarians and vegans.
In addition to the recipe itself, you can find detailed information on ingredients, useful tips, and frequently asked questions to enhance your experience with this Instant Pot masoor dal. If you are looking for a variation, consider trying this green mung bean curry recipe.
Why you will love this recipe?
- Quick and easy: This sabut masoor dal recipe can be prepared in just 30 minutes, with only 10 minutes of hands-on time. It is a convenient option for busy weeknights or if you are looking for a hassle-free cooking experience.
- Instant Pot convenience: The use of an Instant Pot or pressure cooker ensures that the dal is cooked thoroughly and evenly in a relatively short amount of time.
- Diet-friendly: This brown lentil curry is suitable for various dietary needs as it is vegan, gluten-free, and paleo diet-friendly.
- Nutritious and protein-rich: Whole masoor dal is a fantastic source of plant-based protein. It is packed with essential nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The dal is not only flavorful but also provides a nourishing and wholesome meal option.
- Versatile pairings: The dal pairs well with a variety of accompaniments, such as rice, roti/naan, millet rice, red rice, or quinoa. This versatility allows you to customize the meal according to your preferences and dietary requirements.
- Health benefits: Brown lentils are low in calories, have a low glycemic index, and are rich in iron. It provides a healthy option for individuals looking to maintain a balanced diet while enjoying a delicious meal.
Sabut masoor dal: Also called brown lentils, this is the main ingredient for this dish.
Onions: Red or pink onions work well for this dish. You can also use brown onions.
Ginger, garlic, and chili peppers: Lots of ginger and garlic are added. Adjust the chili peppers as per your preference.
Tomatoes: Use ripe and juicy tomatoes. You can also use canned tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes.
Other ingredients: I also use Kasoori methi, cilantro, and lemon juice (or lime juice).
Step 1: Press the saute button on the Instant Pot and add oil. Add cumin seeds and saute for a few seconds. Add the chopped onion and fry for 3 minutes (images 1 and 2).
Step 2: Add ginger, garlic, and green chili. Saute for one more minute (image 3).
Step 4: Add the washed brown lentils and 6 cups of water. Mix well (images 7 and 8).
Step 5: Close the lid of the Instant Pot and pressure cook for 20 minutes. Once the Instant Pot beeps, do a natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then do a quick release (image 9).
Step 6: Lightly mash some of the cooked dal using a wooden spoon (image 10).
Step 7: Add garam masala, coriander leaves (cilantro), Kasuri methi, and lemon juice (images 11 and 12).
Alternate cooking methods
While the Instant Pot method is convenient and efficient, there are alternative cooking methods you can use to prepare kali masoor dal. Here are a few options:
Stovetop method: You can cook whole masoor dal in a pan or pot on the stovetop. Follow the same recipe steps but use a large pot instead. After sautéing the ingredients, add the rinsed dal and water to the pot. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until the dal is cooked through and tender.
Stovetop pressure cooker: Follow the same recipe steps for sautéing the aromatics, tomatoes, and spices in a regular pressure cooker. Add the rinsed whole masoor dal and water to the pressure cooker. Close the lid of the stove-top pressure cooker securely and place it on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Once the pressure cooker reaches high pressure, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 3-4 whistles. After the cooking time is complete, remove the pressure cooker from the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally. This may take around 10-15 minutes.
Slow cooker/crock-pot method: To use a slow cooker or crock-pot to make sabut masoor ki dal, follow the recipe steps to cook the onion-tomato masala in a frying pan. Transfer the onion-tomato masala mixture and rinsed dal to the slow cooker. Add the water, cover, and begin the cooking process on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours, or until the dal is cooked and tender.
I use 6 cups of water for 2 cups of brown lentils. This gives me a slightly thick whole masoor dal curry. Adjust the consistency as per your liking.
Lightly mash some of the cooked masoor dal. This will make the final dish creamy and buttery.
While whole masoor dal does not require soaking like some other lentils, you can soak it for about 15-20 minutes before cooking to reduce the cooking time slightly.
Before cooking, make sure to rinse the whole masoor dal thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt or impurities.
Properly sautéing the onions, garlic, and ginger enhances the flavor of the dal. Cook them until they turn translucent and the raw smell from the ginger-garlic paste goes.
The amount of spices mentioned in this recipe can be adjusted according to your taste preferences. If you prefer a milder dal, reduce the amount of red chili powder or omit the green chili.
Some optional spices like bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, black pepper powder, or cumin powder, can also be added to this brown lentils curry.
There are several variations you can try to customize the flavor and add variety to this whole masoor dal recipe.
Coconut milk masoor dal: Add a tropical twist to your dal by incorporating coconut milk. Once the dal is pressure cooked, add half a cup of coconut milk and simmer it for 5 minutes. The coconut milk will impart a creamy texture and a subtle hint of coconut flavor to the dish.
Palak masoor dal: Boost the nutritional content of the dal by adding a handful of fresh spinach leaves. Add the spinach after the dal is cooked and let it wilt in the residual heat. This adds vibrant color and extra nutrients to the dish. You can also use frozen spinach leaves before pressure cooking the dal.
Vegetable masoor dal: Add diced vegetables like carrots, peas, or bell peppers to the dal while cooking. This not only adds more texture and color but also increases the nutritional value of the dish.
No onion-garlic dal: You can skip onions and garlic to make a no-onion, no-garlic version of this dal. For that, temper cumin seeds and add ginger and chili. Follow the rest of this recipe.
No tomato masoor dal: This masoor dish can be made without tomatoes too. Just add powdered spices along with a splash of water, and cook for 1-2 minutes. The addition of water along with spices will prevent it from burning.
Check out this vegan curry recipe to make delicious Thai red curry.
What to serve with whole masoor dal?
This whole masoor dal pairs well with a variety of dishes. Here are some of my favorite options to serve alongside this brown lentil curry:
Rice: Serve the dal with steamed basmati rice or any other variety of rice like red rice, jeera rice (cumin rice), or biryani rice. The creamy dal combines beautifully with the fluffy rice, creating a satisfying and comforting meal.
Roti/Naan: Whole masoor dal is delicious when paired with Indian bread like roti, chapati, or naan. The bread can be used to scoop up the dal and savor the flavors together.
Paratha: Enjoy the dal with flaky and layered Indian bread called paratha. Parathas can be plain or stuffed with various fillings like potato, paneer (Indian cottage cheese), peas, or spinach. We love this dal with peas paratha.
Sorghum: For a healthier option, serve the dal with cooked whole-grain sorghum. This gluten-free millet boasts an earthy and nutty flavor that makes it a great replacement for white rice.
Bread: If you prefer a non-Indian accompaniment, serve the whole masoor dal with crusty sourdough bread. It is a fusion of flavors that works well together.
Salad: To add freshness and crunch to the meal, serve a side salad alongside the dal. A simple cucumber-tomato salad with a tangy dressing or a green salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and a honey mustard vinaigrette can be refreshing and complement the dal nicely.
More Instant Pot lentils recipes
More vegan Instant Pot curries
Whole masoor dal can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can also freeze this dal for 3-4 months. To reheat, transfer the dal to a saucepan, add little water, and simmer. The dal tends to dry out when it is cold so it is best to simmer with a little water.
Brown lentils are considered very good if you are watching your weight. It is very high in fiber and has a low glycemic index, keeping you full for longer.
You can skip onions and garlic in this dish. For instructions, see the variations section above.
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Instant Pot Whole Masoor Dal (Sabut Masoor Dal)
- 2 cup whole masoor dal (brown lentils)
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 inch ginger grated
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 1 green chilli finely chopped
- 1 large tomato finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust as per taste
- ½ teaspoon garam masala (use store-bought or homemade garam masala)
- 1 tablespoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice (or lime juice)
- 2 tablespoon cilantro
- Wash the whole masoor dal thoroughly in water. Drain the water and set it aside.
- Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and add oil. Once it heats, add cumin seeds and saute for a few seconds.
- Once the cumin splutters, add onion and fry for 3 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, and green chili. Saute for one more minute.
- Add tomato, turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, and salt. Mix well.
- Add ¼ cup water. Cover and let the tomatoes cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the washed brown lentils. Also, add 6 cups water and mix well.
- Close the lid of the Instant Pot and pressure cook for 20 minutes.
- Do a natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then do a quick release.
- Add garam masala, coriander leaves, Kasuri methi, and lemon juice. Mix well.
- Serve hot with rice or roti.