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Masoor Dal | Red Lentil Dal in Instant Pot & Stovetop

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Masoor Dal is a popular dal made with split red lentils. It is made from readily available ingredients. Split Masoor is available at most grocery stores labeled “red lentils.” It is a quick-cooking dal that has a rich, luscious texture and makes for a flavorful dal.

About this Recipe

This is a homestyle dal, made simply, without a double-tadka. This is a recipe meant to be eaten as an everyday day with little fuss. It starts with a simple tadka and is made altogether in one pot. If you want to fancy things up, you can always add a finishing tadka, but it isn’t necessary.

Masoor dal in a bowl

Why make this dish:

  • Quick, weeknight meal
  • Vegetarian friendly: can be made vegan by swapping ghee for coconut oil or neutral oil
  • A flavorful, comforting dal
  • You can make it easier in the Instant Pot or stovetop, whichever you prefer.

This is one of the go-to dals I have been making most of my life. I grew up making it in the pressure cooker, but there was a stretch of time when I didn’t own a pressure cooker. This was one of the recipes that easily adapted to a simple stovetop dish since masoor is a quick-cooking dal.

Bowl of masoor dal


Ingredients for masoor dal
Ingredients: masoor dal, water, salt, ghee (or oil), cilantro, turmeric powder, chili powder, garam masala, cumin, ginger, green chili, tomato, onion, garlic

Masoor dal (red lentils) – masoor is an ancient lentil grown in India even longer than moong. “Red Lentils” found in a grocery store are, at the very least, interchangeable with split masoor and can be used in this recipe.


Garlic – sliced

Ginger – cut into two, so it can flavor the dal and be removed before eating.

Dal Masala – a common Gujarati spice mix specifically made for flavoring dal. You can purchase a packet on Amazon or from an Indian store. If you don’t have it, use garam masala.

I recently tried this with ginger-garlic paste, which is convenient for most recipes when you find ginger and garlic together. It didn’t work for this recipe, giving too sharp a result and spoiling the pleasant finish.

Cooking Tips

Serving masoor dal
  • Don’t burn your ginger. I recommend keeping it in large pieces that are removed before serving, but you can grate it in for more ginger flavor.
  • While cooking the dal, it is important to ensure enough liquid in the Instant Pot for the dal. I prefer 1:3 dal to water for a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. This creates a nice, thick consistency for dal. Some people like a watery dal and use a 1:4 ratio.
Masoor dal served with rice
Served with basmati rice, rice and dal is a classic combination enjoyed throughout India.


  • Adjust the vaghar to your liking:
  • Add hing and curry leaves
  • For a more South Indian flavor profile, swap the cumin for mustard seeds, add curry leaves for a more south Indian flavor profile. Add grated coconut or pieces of coconut. Add a bit of tamarind.
  • Replace a cup of water for coconut milk
  • Add vegetables: spinach, drumsticks, potato, eggplant
  • Make it more of a lentil soup by thinning it with more water or broth.
  • Add a second tadka to make it fancy. Heat some ghee or oil in a pan, add cumin seeds, add kashmiri chili powder, some kasoori methi, and pour the hot mixture over the dal.


Masoor dal keeps for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. It will thicken as it sits. Heat it on the stovetop or microwave and add a bit of water to adjust consistency to your liking. 

Dals like this also freeze very well. You can freeze them for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Simply reheat in the microwave or stovetop without defrosting, adding water as needed to get the desired consistency.

Masoor dal in a bowl

Masoor Dal | Instant Pot & Stovetop Red Lentils

A quick-cooking dal that has a rich, luscious texture and makes for a flavorful dal, made with masoor lentils.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 334 kcal


  • 2 Tbsp oil or ghee
  • 1 ½ cups masoor dal split red lentils, rinsed
  • 4 ½ cups water
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1 ” piece of ginger cut into 2
  • 1-2 green chillies sliced
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garam masala or dal masala
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • Cilantro for garnish


  • Set the Instant Pot to saute mode. Heat the oil or ghee.
  • Add cumin seeds. Let sizzle for a few seconds. Add onions and let cook until onions soften (about 2 minutes).
  • Add ginger and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes. Add turmeric, black pepper, and tomatoes.
  • Let tomatoes and green chilies cook until jammy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the dal, water, and salt. Mix well.
  • Cook on High Pressure for 7 minutes, followed by a natural pressure release of at least 10 minutes.
  • Set the Instant Pot to saute mode. With the dal still in the Instant Pot, mash it with the back of a spoon about 15 times. Adjust consistency by adding water for a thinner, soupier dal. Add garam masala and simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Garnish with cilantro.



To cook on the stovetop in place of Instant Pot, add 1 cup of water. Instead of pressure cooking, boil covered for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Add water if needed. In place of natural pressure release, add the garam masala, then allow it to sit covered for 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to come together.


Calories: 334kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 18gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 641mgPotassium: 798mgFiber: 22gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 274IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 6mg
Keyword dal, masoor dal, red lentils
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Categorized as Dal


  1. 5 stars
    This is a terrific recipe … easy, fast, and delicious. We had it with some palak paneer and some rice … wonderful!

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