This flavorful Vegan Instant Pot Dal is an Indian classic and it packs a punch! It’s quick and easy for a weeknight dinner in your Instant Pot. 15 minutes of prep and you can set your Instant Pot and walk away! Read a book, watch some Netflix, meditate and dinner will be ready sooner than you know it!
Indian Food at home for beginners-
Cooking Indian cuisine at home can be intimidating. I wasn’t brave enough to take it on until after I met my husband. Growing up in an Indian household, his mom cooked flavorful dishes like this on a daily basis, and I wanted to start learning to cook things that would remind him of home. After I had a couple dishes under my belt, I couldn’t believe how easy it was, and I wondered why I hadn’t started sooner.
The ingredients are often what prevent people from taking that first step, but you don’t need a hundred different spices in your kitchen. Once you have a handful of basics, you can cook countless different dishes. Here are a few that I think are good to have on hand if you’re just starting out.
- Cumin seeds
- Mustard seeds
- Curry powder
- Garam masala
- Ginger paste
Can I cook this Vegan Instant Pot Dal on the stovetop?
I’ve tested this recipe a few different ways, and I think for this Yellow Split dahl, it is best to use an Instant Pot or pressure cooker to keep it simple. It is possible to make this on the stovetop, but yellow split peas take a bit longer to cook than red or brown lentils, and you could be standing around waiting a while for the dahl to reach the desired consistency.
If you’re looking for a quick stovetop dal, red or brown lentils are a great choice for this. Here’s a great one from Vegan Richa for an Oil Free Dal Tadka.
Some tips for delicious Dal:
-Use store bought crushed garlic and ginger paste. It’s way easier and cuts down on your chopping time. If you like to cook a lot of ethnic food, these are two ingredients that are great to have on hand. They are versatile and can be used in lots of Asian themed dishes as well.
-Sautéing your spices before you add the liquid is great for bringing out a deeper flavor. The pot will feel dry and you may worry that things are burning, but just keep stirring. They won’t be sautéing for long, and when you add in your tomatoes and liquid, those little bits stuck at the bottom of the pan will lift easily and add lots of flavor to your dish.
-There are many different and passionate opinions about dahl consistency- some like it thick, like my husband, and others prefer it more on the runny side. Experiment and see what you like better. After you have opened the Instant Pot after cooking, you can add water here to thin it a bit, or you can switch to the sauté function and boil off a bit of water if it’s too runny. After making this a couple times, you’ll know what you like and be able to recreate this more easily.
If this is your first attempt at cooking Indian cuisine, I hope you will come back and try others! There are countless dishes to try and it is such a vegan friendly cuisine.
Easy Vegan Instant Pot Dal (Oil-free)
- Instant Pot
- 1 onion diced
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 tsp cumin seeds can substitue for same amount of cumin powder
- 1 tsp mustard seeds may omit, but they add a nice bright flavor
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp curry powder or garam masala
- 1 tbsp garlic paste can substitute with 3 large cloves of minced fresh garlic
- 1 tbsp ginger paste can substiute with 1 tbsp of fresh grated ginger
- 1-2 green chili minced use cayenne or crushed red pepper to your spice preference if you don't have any fresh chilis.
- 1 tomato diced use 1/2 can of diced tomatoes if you don't have fresh
- 1.5 tbsp better than bouillon can substitute for 1 veggie bouillon cube, or 1.5 cups of veggie broth plus additional 1.5 cups of water in place of the 3 cups of water.
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup yellow split dal (moong dal)
- Salt to taste
- Set your Instant Pot to the Sauté function on medium heat, and add diced onion to the inner pot. Sauté until onions have begin to sweat and release some liquid.
- At this point, add cumin, mustard seeds and bay leaf and continue to sauté until onions are golden brown on medium low heat. You may need to add a splash or water here if the onions start to stick.
- When the onions are browned, add the paprika, turmeric, and curry powder and continue to stir until they become fragrant (about 1 minute).
- Add garlic and ginger paste, plus the minced chiili, and continue to stir. After about 1 minute, add in the diced tomato and better than bouillon.
- Deglaze the pot with 3 cups of water (or 1.5 cups veggie broth and 1.5 cups of water if using broth in place of bouillon).
- Add your yellow split dal and stir everything together
- Change your Instant Pot to the High Pressure function and set for 15 minutes cook time. Secure cover and press start. When your Instant Pot has indicated it is done with the cook time, allow 10 minutes of natural release.
- After 10 minutes, open the Instant Pot and you may want to add some salt to taste here (if salt free, leave out). You can also add a bit of water if you like your dal on the runnier side.
- Serve with rice and top with sliced onion, cilantro or vegan yogurt.