Instant Pot Dal and Rice is the most delicious Indian comfort food. Toor dal or Yellow Split Pigeon Pea cooked with onions, tomatoes and flavorful spices, along with pot-in-pot basmati rice for a complete meal. This is a vegan & gluten free Dal Fry!

Dal Tadka / Dal Fry / Yellow Lentils Instant Pot Pressure Cooker 3
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Dal and Rice are the staple foods in many Indian homes. It is basically a lentil stew made with split pigeon peas and served with rice. It is also known as Varan Bhaat in Marathi.

Watch How to Make Indian Dal Tadka / Dal Fry with Basmati Rice

What is Dal?

Dal is basically dried pulses. These dried pulses can be whole or split. Dal is also used as a term for various soups prepared with these dried pulses. It is also called Daal, Dahl, or Dhal.

Dal is the main protein dish for many vegetarians, and hence, it is a dish prepared almost every day in an Indian home. Every region in India makes dal in different ways.  In North India, it is made by tempering it with cumin, curry leaves, onion, and tomato.  In South India, it is used to make sambar.

You will find it interesting that all of over India, dal is prepared in a stovetop pressure cooker. Hence, it is a perfect dish for many in your electric pressure cooker or instant pot. Check out 10+ Instant Pot Lentils recipes.

Lentils used for Pressure Cooker Dal Fry

Toor dal, or Yellow Split Pigeon Pea or Arhar Dal, is one of the most popular dal made in India. The cooked toor dal is also popularly called Dal Tadka or Dal Fry. Dal tadka is very quick to prepare and can be ready in minutes. It is one of the easiest to make for a weeknight dinner.

I have also shared a different, slightly sweeter preparation of toor dal in this delicious Gujarati Dal recipe.

Toor Dal Nutrition

Toor dal is from the legume family and has a number of health benefits.

  • It contains Folic acid, an important vitamin for all women.
  • Toor dal contains protein and dietary fiber.  Legumes such as toor dal are especially beneficial for vegetarians as they provide the necessary protein.
  • Toor dal also contains carbohydrates, which our body needs to generate energy.  They contain complex carbohydrates, which are digested slowly by the body and are much better than simple carbohydrates.

How to make Indian Dal Fry in Instant Pot?

This recipe shows how to make Dal Fry in Instant Pot. The main difference in this preparation is that I made it as a one-pot recipe.  Usually, we boil the dal separately and then add the tadka in it.  In this recipe, I cook the tadka in the pot before adding the dal and cook the dal along with the tadka.

Start with heating oil in the instant pot. Then, add cumin seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida, and garlic. Once the garlic is lightly browned, add chopped onions and cook for 2-3 minutes. Lightly brown the onions, then add chopped tomatoes and spices. Add toor dal and water.  No need to soak the dal for this recipe.

Instant pot Toor dal fry steps

The below steps show pot-in-pot basmati rice cooked along with the yellow lentils. More details about pot-in-pot are below.

Instant pot dal with rice steps

Pressure Cook for 5 minutes and then release the pressure 5 minutes after the beep. Garnish with cilantro and additional garam masala if you like a spice kick. Don’t worry if the dal does not look well mixed when you open the pot. Stir it well, and it will be delicious.

If you do soak the dal for 2 hours, you can reduce the cooking time to 3 minutes for toor dal.

Toor dal fry steps in pressure cooker

A note about consistency – In North India, dal is preferred so that each grain can be seen and not all mushed up. However, I know in South India that, the preference is to cook dal to a consistency of sambar, where each grain is not visible, and it is more like a smooth soup. For this consistency, pressure cook for 8-10 minutes at high pressure.

Indian Day Fry in a ladle on top of instant pot

Dal Fry with Pot-in-Pot Basmati Rice

One of the big advantages of the Instant Pot is – the option to do Pot-in-Pot Cooking or PIP. This means being able to cook multiple things at a time by also cooking in a small pot inside the main pot. To cook pot-in-pot, you need a tall trivet and stainless steel containers that you can use within the main pot.

Another important thing with pot-in-pot cooking is to consider the cooking time for the dishes you want to cook together. As an example, toor dal takes about 5 mins to cook at high pressure, and basmati rice takes about 4-6 mins at high pressure. Hence, if I add rice pot-in-pot with these lentils, they will cook well. I would not cook brown rice along with these lentils, however they would work well with kidney beans that cook in 30 mins at high pressure.

Learn more about the instant pot pot-in-pot method with this comprehensive guide!

instant pot Dal Tadka (Yellow Lentils) in a pretty bowl with rice on the side

Once you add all the ingredients for Dal in the instant pot, place the trivet and then the bowl of rice with water. This way, they will both cook together. See the pictures above for reference.

Enjoy dal served over basmati rice and some homemade ghee (this would make it non-vegan)!

Why you will love this Instant Pot Dal & Rice?

√ It is easy to make in the instant pot with very little active time needed.

√ Healthy, nutritious & protein rich

√ This dal be made ahead and freezes well.

√ Vegan & Gluten free

If you like this Dal Fry, you might like these below lentil recipes too:

4.91 from 280 votes

Instant Pot Dal Tadka / Dal Fry with Basmati Rice

A simple yet flavorful yellow dal tempered with cumin, curry leaves and spices. This is an everyday lentil enjoyed with rice. 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4



For Basmati Rice


  • Start the instant pot in sauté mode and heat the oil in it. Add cumin seeds, green chili, curry leaves, garlic and asafoetida.
  • After the garlic turns light brown, add the chopped onions and cook for 2 minutes until the onions turn golden brown.
  • Add tomato and spices and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the washed dal and water. Stir it all up. 
  • Place the trivet. In a bowl, add all ingredients for basmati  rice and place it on top of the trivet. Close the lid with vent in sealing position. 
  • Change the instant pot setting to manual or pressure cook mode at high pressure for for 5 mins. After the instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then release the pressure manually (5 minute NPR). 
  • Using tongs, carefully take out the bowl of basmati rice. Then take out the trivet. 
  • Garnish with cilantro and stir. Optionally, sprinkle the juice of half a lemon. Dal tadka is ready to be served.



Thick dal: If you like thick dal, reduce the amount of water to 2.5 cups.
A note about consistency: Don’t worry if the dal does not look well mixed when you open the pot. Stir it well and it will be delicious. I understand that some people like more cooked dal, you can also increase the pressure cooking time to 7-8 minutes. That will still work for pot-in-pot basmati rice.
Vegan Variation: Skip ghee and use oil of your choice.
Soaking: I did not soak the toor dal in this recipe. If you do soak the daal for 2 hours, you can reduce the cooking time to 3 minutes.  
Green Chili Pepper: I typically use Thai, Birdeye or Serrano Chili Pepper in my recipes. Don’t forget to adjust to your taste. 


Calories: 222kcalCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 13gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 602mgPotassium: 569mgFiber: 15gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 430IUVitamin C: 38.4mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 4.2mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Nut-free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

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Recipe Rating


  1. love the recipe which I did follow exactly first time. Since then I’ve adapted. However just noticed in the notes, to make thicker dahl reduce water amount to 2.5 cups. The original recipe says 1 cup of water. Please can you clarify this?

    1. and 3 cups of water for the curry. Mine turned out quite soupy so I reduced to 2 cups total.

    2. Quick question

      Is there any adjustment to the recipe if you don’t cook the rice in the recipe? For dietary reasons I would like to leave the rice pot in pot out.

      1. Hello – The recipe should work as is even if you don’t cook pot-in-pot rice. I would just suggest to let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then do a manual pressure release. Hope you enjoy the dal!

    3. Hello – For the dal, it is 3 cups of water for 1 cup of dal. For the pot-in-pot rice, it is 1 cup of rice to 1.2 cup of water. But yes, please do adjust the amount of liquid based on how thick you like your dal.

  2. Loved the recipe! My family really enjoyed it and it tasted just like our local Indian restaurant. So economical to make too. Definitely will make it again.
    I did end up cooking my dal and rice for 12 minutes total. They were both pretty raw at 5 minutes (and 5 NPR). -I’m not sure what I did wrong, but it’s an easy fix.

  3. I tried this and turned out well ! However it feels like some spice is missing – Like it tastes fine but I cannot figure out if there is another spice that you’ve left out in your recipe. Can’t figure out which one – Cumin or Kasthuri Methi ?

    1. Hi Vinny – Glad it turned out well. You can add some roasted cumin powder at the end if you like. Typically kasuri methi is not added to dals. Thanks for the feedback.

    1. Hi Kristi – It is totally fine to skip curry leaves in this recipe. If you can find a local indian grocery store, they would have curry leaves. Or you might be able to find dried curry leaves on Amazon.

  4. Hi Meeta,
    Yesterday I was craving Indian but not much energy and time. So got the Instant Pot and made this dal and it was perfect. Thanks for the tip of less water as I do prefer it thicker especially as we were having naan and no rice. I also had some Paneer in the freezer and left over cooked spinach so gave the Instant Pot a quick rinse and made your saag paneer. Delicious meal and light clean up! We have enough dal and paneer left for another meal so I’ll be making your Paneer Tikka Masala in the week. However, hubby was stuck on the image of your tandoori paneer naan pizza so I had to promise this as a treat in the near future.

    Your spices are spot on and you have a ton of great recipes I can’t wait to try.

    Hope life is good in Los Gatos.


    1. Hi Maria – So happy to hear you enjoyed the dal and the saag. The naan pizza is a favorite for us too. Hope you all enjoy it!

  5. I am looking forward to making this! So many of my friends rave about this recipe. Question: if you do not have a tomato or onion at home, can you improvise in any other way? Would canned tomatoes work (if drained well etc)? I am craving something like this today and I had no planned haha. If not, I can wait to make this when I get to the grocery store to get a tomato and onion

    1. Hello – You can actually make the dal without fresh onions and tomatoes. You can add some canned tomatoes in place of the fresh. Would love to hear how it turns out!

      1. Hi Meeta,

        I made your dal fry yesterday without tomatoes and it turned out superb. Only extra things I’ve added are an inch of ginger (minced) and cumin powder.

        Thank you for the recipe. I will try it again when I have tomatoes on hand.


      2. Hi Rimzin – So happy to hear you enjoyed the dal. Thank you for sharing back the changes you made.

  6. I’m confused how we’re supposed to put the trivet/rice in at the same time *with* the daal? There’s way too much liquid? Thanks

    1. Hi Carly – It is best to use a tall trivet in this case, so that the rice bowl is above the liquid level. I have linked to the trivet I use in the equipment list on the recipe.