Instant Pot Brown Lentils Curry (Whole Masoor Dal)

This Instant Pot Brown Lentils Curry, also known as Whole Masoor Dal, is a delightful Indian dish that’s both vegetarian and gluten-free. With aromatic spices and hearty lentils, this recipe is perfect for a comforting meal served with rice or Indian bread.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Natural Pressure Release: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 5 servings
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian, North Indian


  • 1 tablespoon Oil (use neutral flavor oil)
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds or Jeera
  • 2 Onions, small size, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 Tomatoes, small size, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 Green Chili, finely chopped (Optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder or Haldi Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chili Powder (Substitute with Paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon Roasted Cumin Powder
  • 1 cup Brown Lentils (Whole Masoor Dal, Sabut Masoor Dal)
  • 2 1/2 cups Water
  • Finely Chopped Cilantro or Coriander Leaves

Tempering (Optional):

  • 1 teaspoon Ghee or Clarified Butter (Use Oil for Vegan Recipe)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin Seeds or Jeera
  • A pinch of Kashmiri Red Chili Powder (optional)


  1. Prepare Lentils: Wash and soak brown lentils for 15 minutes. After soaking, drain the water and set aside. Note: Soaking lentils is optional but recommended.
  2. Sauté Aromatics: Switch on the Instant Pot and press Sauté Mode. Add oil and cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds are roasted, add finely chopped onions and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add Spices: Stir in chopped tomatoes, ginger garlic paste, and green chilies (optional). Add turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, ground coriander, and roasted cumin powder. Sauté and add a few tablespoons of water to prevent the spices from burning.
  4. Cook Lentils: Cancel Sauté Mode. Add the soaked and drained brown lentils to the Instant Pot. Pour in 2 1/2 cups of water and season with salt to taste.
  5. Pressure Cook: Close the Instant Pot with the lid, secure the vent to sealing, and pressure cook on high for 15 minutes. Allow for natural pressure release for up to 10 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure.
  6. Finish and Serve: Open the Instant Pot and mix the dal using a ladle. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Tempering (Optional):

  1. Prepare Tempering: Heat ghee or oil in a small pan. Add cumin seeds and a pinch of Kashmiri red chili powder (optional). Pour this tempering over the cooked dal just before serving.


  • Soaking Lentils: While optional, soaking lentils can aid in digestion and reduce cooking time.
  • Spice Substitutes: Garam masala can be substituted with curry powder, and Kashmiri red chili powder can be replaced with paprika.
  • Green Chilies: Adjust the quantity or omit based on preference.
  • Homemade Ginger Garlic Paste: Easily make ginger garlic paste by crushing equal parts of ginger and garlic.
  • Water to Lentil Ratio: Use 2 1/2 cups of water for 1 cup of brown lentils. Adjust for desired consistency.
  • Tempering: The final tempering with ghee is optional but adds richness to the dish.
  • Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or freeze for longer shelf life. Adjust consistency with hot water when reheating.

Enjoy the rich flavors and comforting warmth of this Instant Pot Brown Lentils Curry, a wholesome dish that’s perfect for any occasion!

Instant Pot Brown Lentils Curry Recipe | Whole Masoor Dal

Indian Style Brown Lentils Curry Recipe or Whole Masoor Dal made in Instant Pot under 40 minutes. A Vegetarian and Gluten Free Dal recipe that pairs well with rice or Indian breads.

PREP TIME15 mins

COOK TIME15 mins



COURSE Main Course, Side Dish

CUISINE Indian, north indian

SERVINGS 5 servings


  • Instant Pot (Read Stove Top Pressure Cooker Instructions in Notes)


  • 1 tablespoon Oil use neutral flavor oil
  • ½ tsp Cumin Seeds or Jeera
  • 2 Onions small size – finely chopped, 3/4 cup
  • 2 Tomatoes small size – finely chopped, 3/4 cup
  • 1 Green Chili finely chopped (Optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
  • ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder or Haldi Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri Red chili powder Substitute with Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • ½ teaspoon Roasted Cumin Powder
  • 1 cup Brown Lentils Whole Masoor Dal, Sabut Masoor Dal
  • 2 ½ cups Water
  • Finely Chopped Cilantro or coriander leaves

Tempering (Optional)

  • 1 teaspoon Ghee or Clarified Butter Use Oil for Vegan Recipe
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin Seeds or Jeera
  • A pinch of Kashmiri Red Chili Powder optional


  • Wash and Soak Brown Lentils for 15 minutes. After 15 mins, drain the water used for soaking and keep aside. Note – Soaking lentils is not mandatory.
  • Switch on the Instant Pot and Press Sauté Mode. Add oil and cumin seeds (jeera).
  • Once the cumin has roasted, add finely chopped onions and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  • Now add chopped tomatoes, ginger garlic paste and green chilies (optional)
  • Add the spices – Red chili, turmeric, ground coriander and roasted cumin powder. Sauté and add few tablespoons of water to prevent the spices from burning.
  • Now add the Soaked and drained brown lentils. Cancel Sauté Mode.
  • Add 2 & 1/2 cups of water for cooking and salt to taste.
  • Close the Instant Pot with Lid, secure vent to sealing and Pressure Cook on High for 15 minutes. Allow Natural Pressure Release up to 10 minutes and release the balance pressure manually.
  • Once the pin moves down, open the Instant Pot and mix using a ladle. The dal is ready to serve garnished with some cilantro.
  • The dal will thicken as it cools down slightly and it will be even more thicker the next day. The consistency can be easily adjusted by reheating the dal with some hot water.
  • Soaking the Brown Lentils, Whole Masoor Dal or Sabut Masoor Ki Dal – I prefer washing and soaking the lentils for atleast 15 minutes before cooking. This step is optional and you can just wash and drain the lentils, add to the IP. However, soaking has its own benefits – easy to digest, no flatulence etc.
  • Substitutes for Ingredients 
  • Spices – Garam Masala can be substituted with Curry Powder. Kashmiri Red Chili (gives good color, low heat) can be substituted with paprika. The quantities, again, can be altered based on your family’s preferences.
  • Green Chilies – Optional or you can deseed and use jalapeno peppers, if you like. 
  • Making ginger garlic paste at home is easy – Just crush equal parts of ginger and garlic in a mortar and pestle or a mixer grinder jar. This can be frozen for months and used as curry base, for soups etc.
  • Brown Lentils to Water Ratio – For a cup of Brown Lentils, I use 2 and 1/2 cups of water. You can use vegetarian stock but plain water is perfectly fine considering we are using so many spices for the curry base.
  • Tempering – This step is optional. The tempering or the final touches is done using ghee but can be easily substituted with oil. If you skip the tempering, the lentil curry recipe is Vegan.
  • Instructions for cooking Whole Masoor Dal in Stove Top Pressure Cooker 
  • Pressure Cook the washed and soaked lentils with salt for 3-4 whistles on high flame. (Water to Dal ratio is same as IP)
  • Once the pressure releases naturally, remove the weight and open the lid. 
  • Heat a pan, add oil and cook the onion tomato base with spices. Now add the cooked brown lentils and mix. Reduce the flame and allow the dal to simmer for couple of minutes until it thickens and turns creamy. Switch off the flame and garnish with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro). Add the tempering with ghee just before serving. 
  • Storage / Freezing Instructions –
  • Once the curry or dal has cooled down, transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. 
  • This curry thickens with time, especially after it has cooled down. You can add some hot water and adjust the consistency of the curry while re-heating either on stove top or microwave.
  • You can freeze the curry upto 2 months or longer. Once you thaw the curry, do not re-freeze as it comprises the shelf life.