When I really want to eat Indian carry out or the buffet, I need a quick fix pronto. This is one of those! It’s almost always on the buffet line, and is very satisfying. Dal is one of those dishes that tastes like it’s quite involved, but is really quite easy. I threw this instant pot dal tadka together in under a half hour, and it really reminds me of our favorite Indian restaurant’s version of this dish. 

Dal is a broad term for dishes made with lentils. There are several ways to eat curried lentils in Indian cuisine, but by far my favorite is this dal tadka. Yellow lentils are a staple in our house, and on most Indian buffets. The dishes are high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Not only that, but they are quite cheap to make. If you purchase lentils in bulk, you can get away with a dish that feeds a family of four (or double it for leftovers – it reheats well), for around $2. We stock up on our spices and dry pulses at the Asian market, and onion and tomatoes at Costco, so for us, this dish is really cheap.

Bowl of Vegan Instant Pot Dal Tadka

What you will love about this Instant Pot Dal Tadka?

  1. It is vegan! What’s not to love about that?
  2. It’s inexpensive. Even if you’re not on a budget, this dish is really cost effective. Everyone loves saving money.
  3. It’s quick. The instant pot (or pressure cooker) is really a great way to cook. Saves time, and is a healthier alternative to stopping at your favorite pizza joint on the way home. In the amount of extra time to run through a drive thru, you could throw this together at home.
  4. It’s packed full of healthy nutrients. Lentils are high in fiber, protein, and minerals. Onions are great sources of antioxidants. It’s a win-win.
Bowl of Instant Pot Dal Tadka

What you’ll need for this recipe?

  1. Yellow Lentils (Moong Dal) – can’t make dal without the dal! Lentils are the best, plus they’ll keep you full all day.
  2. Tomato – you could probably get by without the tomato, however it does add some flavor, so don’t skimp if you have one.
  3. Onion – what would be an Indian dish without onion. Seriously. And this one is light on the onion in comparison to most others. It adds so much flavor, and can you say antioxidants? We could all use a few more of those.
  4. Cumin Seeds – these little power houses are responsible for the aromatic flavors we all know and recognize with Indian food.
  5. Serrano Pepper – bring on the heat. If you aren’t about the heat, either remove the seeds or omit completely. You can always substitute for a different pepper, or even cayenne pepper if you don’t have fresh available.
  6. Garlic – we all know garlic is delicious. Flavor!
  7. Garam Masala – This is a flavor packed spice. It’s similar to curry powder (substitute if you don’t have any garam masala), but I find it’s a lot less aromatic and won’t leave the house smelling like curry. It’s also very flavorful. If you’ve got an expansive herb and spice collection you can always make your own. 
  8. Turmeric Powder – flavor and color come from this anti-inflammatory powerhouse.
  9. Water – you’ll need water to hydrate the lentils.
  10. Olive Oil – If you forget this you’ll know. When you saute on the Instant Pot without oil, you’ll get major stickage. 
  11. Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker – this is the magical instrument that makes the cooking go so quick. Great investment if you don’t already have one. Check out the one I have at home, we opted for a larger one being we meal prep and knew we’d be having a larger family to feed. 🙂
Vegan Dal Tadka Instant pot Indian curried lentils

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. 

Roti (Chapati) is an Indian flatbread served with many meals. It’s more common-day than naan, and a lot healthier.

Bowl of Vegan Instant Pot Dal Tadka

Instant Pot Dal Tadka (Curried Lentils)

Authentic Indian style dal tadka is a favorite among vegetarians. This instant pot version will take you less than a half hour to get restaurant style curried lentils.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 26 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 bowls
Calories 233 kcal


  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 serrano pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • ½ onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tomato, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp garam masala (can substitute curry powder)
  • 1 tsp coriander cumin powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup yellow lentils (moong dal)
  • 3 cup water
  • salt (to taste)
  • cilantro (optional for topping)
  • lime juice (optional for topping)


  • Rinse lentils with water until the water runs clear. This will remove any extra dust or starch left.
  • Turn on Instant Pot to saute mode and add olive oil.
  • Add cumin seeds, garlic, and serrano pepper to pan and allow seeds to simmer (once oil is hot this should only take about 10 seconds).
  • Add chopped onion and allow to brown.
  • After about 3 minutes, mix in the dry spices. Then add the tomato.
  • Allow this mixture to cook for another minute.
  • Mix in the water and lentils.
  • Turn on the manual pressure on high and cook for 6 minutes. (7 minutes will make for a bit mushier lentils).
  • Once it’s complete, allow it to sit for 10 minutes before manually releasing the pressure.
  • Mix it up and top with cilantro and lime juice, or serve as it is. Serve alongside roti, naan, or basmati rice.


Serving: 1bowlCalories: 233kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 14gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 27mgPotassium: 102mgFiber: 6gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 370IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 2mg
Keyword instant pot dal, instant pot vegan dal, vegan dal tadka
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments below. It’s very similar to my slow cooker recipe for Dal Tadka, with a bit of a twist (and saves you a few hours!). Thanks for stopping.

-Cassie 🙂

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