Masoor dal tadka, aka red lentil curry is super high in protein & naturally vegan. Made in the instant pot & only requires 9 simple ingredients !
Dal is simply one of those things that I cant get enough of. When I was a child, my parents will sometimes surprise us by " planning " a trip to a nearby mamak stall ( Open aired restaurants selling Indian food ) to enjoy supper. And I always, without fail order roti cannai ( Indian flatbread similar to chapati ) with dal.
After many attempts to recreate my childhood favourite dish, I successfully veganize it hence have to share it ! If you had never tried dal, I urge you to try making this recipe. You definitely be hooked. 😁
What is dal tadka ?
Dal , sometimes also being known as " daal ", " dahl " or " dhal " , can both be referred to the lentil itself , or a spicy creamy stew made from lentils. It is a really popular Indian dish and is gaining popularity all around the world.
Dal can be made with any kinds of lentils, and the thickness of it all comes down to personal preference. In this recipe, we are using whole masoor dal, which is directly translated as whole red lentils. Red lentils is one of the most common lentils you can find across the world, when compared to other variety like the yellow or black ones ( yes, there are black lentils ! )
On the other hand, tadka is known as " tempering " . This cooking method involves cooking whole or ground spices in oil or animal fats to really bring out the flavour of them.
🍅 What you will need
- Yellow lentils can be used in place of red lentils.
- Both skimmed or whole fat coconut milk can be used.
- Whole cumin can be substituted with ground cumin, but you will need about ¾ teaspoon.
🔪 How to make
Set the instant pot to the saute mode. Place about 1 tablespoon of oil in the pot and let it heat up.
Saute the onion first for 4-5 minutes, until they are browned and caramelized. Then, add in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, ginger powder, turmeric powder and tomato. Saute for another 4-5 minutes, or until the spices are fragrant and tomatoes has softened. Press the cancel button.
Place in the lentils, salt and coconut milk together with 2 cups of water. Place the lid on and set it to the pressure cook settings at high pressure. Set the timer for 10 minutes.
After the lentils are done cooking or a beep can be heard, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before manually releasing remaining pressure.
Open the lid and give it a taste, adding extra salt if needed. Serve and enjoy !
✅ Top tips
- If you prefer your dal less mushy and has more texture, reduce the cooking time to about 7-8 minutes.
- For a thinner and more soup like dal use 2 ½ cups of water instead.
- Feel free to add in some additional veggies. If you are using tougher and harder vegetables like carrot, add it along with the lentils. But if you are using softer vegetables like spinach or peas, add them in after the lentils are done cooking.
- Feel free to omit the chili powder if heat is not your thing. Or, add more if you want them to be extra spicy !
- You can make this recipe oil-free by using vegetable broth to saute instead of oil.
- The lentils may not look well mixed when you first open the lid, but dont worry ! Give it a quick stir and this should fix it.
❄ Storing + Freezing
Let it cool down completely. Portion it out and store them into sealed, freezable containers ( this is the container I am using ) . Dal can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days, and in the freezer for 3 months.
To reheat, let the frozen dal thaw. You can choose to reheat it in the microwave, or on the stove.
How to serve
- Pair them with some naan, chapati or roti ( my favourite way to eat them ! )
- Serve it over a bed of rice
- Use it as a salad dressing by thinning them out with some water and add more salt, if needed
- Eat it as a warm, comforting bowl of soup
❔ Commonly asked questions
You definitely can. Use some vegetable broth/water in place of oil. Add in a tablespoon of broth/water at a time if the spices starts sticking to the pot. I recommend getting an non-stick inner pot to make things easier.
Yes, this recipe is freezable.
🍽 Other Asian recipes to check out
- Healthy Indian Tofu Stir-fry
- Vegan Peanut Noodles with Crispy Tofu
- Vegan Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce
- Easy Vegan Marmite Baked Tempeh
Instant Pot Coconut Masoor Dal Tadka ( Vegan )
- 1 cup dried whole red lentils
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 small tomatoes ( about 200g )
- 200 ml coconut milk* ( or ½ can , about ¾ cup )
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds**
- ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¾ - 1 teaspoon salt
- Adjust the instant pot to the " saute " settings. Heat up some oil in the pot. Add in the onion and cook until caramelized, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add in the garlic and saute it for another 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is browned.
- Toss in the chopped tomatoes, all the spices ( cumin seeds, chilli, ginger and turmeric powder ) and cook until the tomatoes has softened and the spices are fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Press the " cancel " button to stop sauteing.
- Transfer in the rest of the ingredients and place the lid on. Select the pressure cook settings and cook it at high pressure for 10 minutes.
- When the timer goes off and a beep sound can be heard, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before removing the excess pressure.
- Give the dal a quick stir, adding more salt if necessary. Serve it with some brown rice or chapati and enjoy !
- To make this recipe oil-free, simply saute using water/ vegetable broth.
- If you prefer your dal to be thinner, increase the water to 2 ½ cups.
- Dal can be stored in the fridge for 4 days, and in the freezer for up to 3 months.