Instant Pot Brown Lentils Curry (Whole Masoor Dal)


  • 1 tablespoon neutral-flavor oil
  • ½ teaspoon Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 small tomatoes, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 green chili, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
  • ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder (Haldi)
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chili Powder (or substitute with Paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • ½ teaspoon Roasted Cumin Powder
  • 1 cup Brown Lentils (Whole Masoor Dal)
  • 2 ½ cups Water
  • Finely Chopped Cilantro or Coriander Leaves
  • Tempering (Optional)
    • 1 teaspoon Ghee or Clarified Butter (use oil for a vegan option)
    • ¼ teaspoon Cumin Seeds (Jeera)
    • A pinch of Kashmiri Red Chili Powder (optional)


  1. Wash and soak the brown lentils (whole masoor dal) for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, drain the soaking water and set aside. Note that soaking lentils is optional.
  2. Turn on the Instant Pot and select the Sauté mode. Add oil and cumin seeds (jeera).
  3. Once the cumin seeds have roasted, add finely chopped onions and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, ginger garlic paste, and green chilies (if using).
  5. Add the spices: red chili, turmeric, ground coriander, and roasted cumin powder. Sauté and add a few tablespoons of water to prevent the spices from burning.
  6. Now add the soaked and drained brown lentils. Cancel the Sauté mode.
  7. Add 2 ½ cups of water for cooking and salt to taste.
  8. Close the Instant Pot with the lid, secure the vent to the sealing position, and pressure cook on high for 15 minutes. Allow natural pressure release for up to 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure manually.
  9. Once the pressure pin drops, open the Instant Pot and mix the dal using a ladle. The dal is ready to serve, garnished with chopped cilantro.
  10. The dal will thicken as it cools down slightly and even more the next day. You can easily adjust the consistency by reheating the dal with some hot water.


  • Soaking the brown lentils is optional but can help make them easier to digest.
  • You can substitute Garam Masala with curry powder and Kashmiri Red Chili with paprika if needed.
  • Green chilies are optional, or you can deseed and use jalapeno peppers.
  • If you prefer, you can use vegetable stock instead of water.
  • The tempering step is optional. If you skip it, the lentil curry will be vegan.

Stovetop Pressure Cooker Instructions:

  • Pressure cook the washed and soaked lentils with salt for 3-4 whistles on high flame.
  • Once the pressure naturally releases, open the lid.
  • Heat a pan, add oil, and cook the onion-tomato base with spices. Then add the cooked brown lentils, mix, and allow it to simmer until it thickens and turns creamy. Garnish with chopped cilantro (coriander).
  • Add the tempering with ghee just before serving.

Storage / Freezing Instructions:

  • Store the cooled curry in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. The curry may thicken over time; you can adjust the consistency with hot water when reheating.
  • You can freeze the curry for up to 2 months. Do not refreeze after thawing, as it affects the shelf life.