Back when we used to visit the Indian buffet several times a week, one of my favorite dishes was the yellow lentil “soup” which I now know is called dal tadka. It’s basically a lentil curry that can be eaten over rice or with naan. Since I’ve learned more about Indian food, I’ve been learning how to make it at home and what spices are necessary to get the delicious flavors out. I’m super excited to share this easy recipe for slow cooker dal tadka with you today.

Bowl of Vegan Dal Tadka

My in-laws are from India so when we’ve been visiting them I pick up tips and tricks on making our favorite dishes and my mother-in-law walks me through how to make some of them. She showed me how to make dal, chana masala, bhindi, and rotis the last time we were there. I’ve modified slightly for us since we don’t have the same cookware as them and we also tend to use more oil in our cooking (with the stainless steel pans we have, it’s a must).

Vegan Dal Tadka Instant pot Indian curried lentils

Dal tadka can be made in a slow cooker – requiring minimal attention. It even works in an Instant Pot on the slow cook setting. It’s seriously one of the easiest dishes I’ve made and you’ll definitely have leftovers unless you’re feeding a small army. It takes about 4 hours on high heat, and the best part is you don’t have to babysit it!

Bowl of Vegan Instant Pot Dal Tadka

Looking for some other Indian Dishes?

Chana Masala is a delicious chickpea dish, this recipe is served alongside sauteed greens and rice for a veggie packed bowl.

Aloo Gobi is one of my personal favorites. It’s a north Indian curried cauliflower and potato dish. Serve this alongside naan or rotis for a real treat. 

Vegan Dal Tadka Instant pot Indian curried lentils

Best Restaurant Style Dal Tadka

Dal tadka is a slow-cooker meal that is an Indian staple dish. It's vegan and packed with antioxidants.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6 bowls
Calories 116 kcal


  • 1 ½ cup yellow lentil
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • salt to taste
  • pinch cilantro (optional)
  • pinch fenugreek leaves (optional)

Tadka (tempering) Ingredients

  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 serrano pepper, minced
  • 1 tsp coriander cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper powder


  • Add lentils, garlic, chopped onion, turmeric, tomatoes, and salt to slow cooker
  • Add 4 cups of water – if you want a runnier soup, add 4.5 cups
  • Turn on high heat for approximately 3 hours
  • After 3 hours, heat olive oil to medium-high heat on stovetop and add all tempering ingredients
  • Allow cumin seeds to sizzle and then remove from heat
  • Add all tempering ingredients to slow cooker
  • Cook for an additional hour, checking the texture of lentils prior to serving. If they are not to your liking, cook additional time to achieve desired texture. Yellow lentils take longer than red lentils from what I’ve found.
  • Top with fenugreek leaves, fresh chopped cilantro, and serve with rice or your favorite bread (naan, roti, or paratha)
  • Enjoy!


Serving: 1bowlCalories: 116kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 6gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 6mgPotassium: 309mgFiber: 5gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 213IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 23mgIron: 2mg
Keyword dal, dal tadka, slow cooker dal, vegan dal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Let me know what you think of this one. It’s a great option for people wanting to try Indian food without such intense flavor or a super complex recipe.

-Cassie 🙂

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