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2 bowls of dal served with naan with spoons and more naan in the background.
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5 from 14 votes

Vegan Yellow Dal Tadka (Instant Pot/Stovetop)

This easy and quick to make vegan yellow lentil dal tadka is super comforting, creamy and flavorful! Ready in 30 minutes, making it a great quick weeknight dinner to have. Both instructions for stovetop and Instant pot included.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 204kcal
Author Meesha



  • Place lentils in a fine mesh colander and rinse it under running water for 45 seconds to a minute. Set aside.


  • Turn the pot to the "saute" mode. Pour in a tablespoon of neutral oil and wait for it to heat up. Add in cumin and mustard seeds. When they start to sizzle, add in onion and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
    1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ½ teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 medium red onion, 3 cloves garlic
  • Now, stir in tomato, chili powder, ginger powder, ground turmeric and coriander powder. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until tomato have softened.
    1 medium tomato, 1 teaspoon chili powder **, ½ teaspoon ginger powder, ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • Add rinse lentils, 3 cups of water and salt into the pot. Place the lid on, cancel saute and set the pot to cook at high pressure for 10 minutes.
    ¾-1 teaspoon salt
  • When it is done cooking, release pressure naturally for 15 minutes, before manually releasing the remaining pressure. Give it a stir, taste and add more salt, if needed. If the mixture is too thick for your liking, stir in some hot water.


  • Combine 4 cups of water and rinsed lentils into a medium pot. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Place the lid on and cook for 30-40 minutes, giving a stir occasionally and remove foam on top to prevent lentils from boiling over.
    1 cup dried yellow lentils *
  • In a non-stick pan, heat up a tablespoon of neutral oil. When pan is heated, add in cumin seeds and mustard seeds and cook until they start to splatter and sizzle. Add in onion and garlic next and cook until onion turns translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
    1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ½ teaspoon mustard seeds, 3 cloves garlic, 1 medium red onion
  • Stir in tomatoes, chili powder, ginger powder, ground turmeric and coriander powder and cook until tomatoes have softened, about 4-5 minutes.
    1 teaspoon chili powder **, ½ teaspoon ginger powder, ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • When lentils are done cooking, spoon off excess water on top of the lentils, but not draining off all water. Stir in the tomato spice mixture. Season it with salt and add in more water if dal is too thick for your liking. Serve and enjoy!


*Lentils - I am using yellow split pigeon lentils (Toor Dal), but feel free to use red split lentils (Masoor Dal) or split mung beans (Moong Dal) in place.
**Chili powder - Use half the amount, or totally omit it if sensitive to heat.
Oil-free - Tamper cumin and mustard seeds dry without oil in a good non-stick pan, before adding in ¼ cup of water or broth to saute onion and garlic.
Helpful tips
  • The consistency of this yellow dal tadka will be on the thicker end. If you prefer a thinner version, you can add in about ½-1 cup of hot water at the end until desired consistency is achieved.
  • It is highly recommended to use high quality, fresh lentils. The older the lentils are, the longer it takes for the them to cook.
  • You can use ground cumin and mustard powder in place of the whole ones. You will need ¾ teaspoons of ground cumin and ½ teaspoon of ground mustard.
Storing - Leftover yellow dal tadka can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. It is also freezable and can be frozen for up to 3 months. Portion it up into storage containers before freezing them.
Reheating - To reheat from frozen, let dal thaw overnight in the fridge. You can then warm it in the microwave at 30 seconds increments or on stove. You might need to add a splash of water to thin.


Calories: 204kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 451mg | Potassium: 634mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 431IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 5mg