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Easy Yellow Dal (Lentil Soup) for the Instant Pot

It's fall, the crisp air is rolling in, and I find myself longing to curl up with a warm bowl of soup. This light, healthy soup hits the spot. When I was growing up, my grandmother would have a nice bowl of dal with rice and plenty of ghee (clarified butter) ready for me when I got home from school. To me, this is the ultimate comfort food. It is also full of natural goodness like fiber, protein, and iron.

Traditionally, the dal is cooked first and then the "tadka" (with sauteed onions, tomatoes, spices) is added at the end. But, I prefer to saute the tadka first and the cook the dal with it. With the instant pot, dal is super easy to make this way. Also, dal is a total frugal win. The whole pot costs less than $6 to make and will feed my family of 4 for at least 2 meals. Toor dal can be found here. I hope you enjoy!

Easy Yellow Dal (Lentil Soup) for the Instant Pot This yellow dal is my go to comfort food. It is light, flavorful, yet not overpoweringly spicy.

  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds

  • 1 Medium Onion (Diced)

  • 1 Large Tomato (Diced)

  • 1 cup Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Peas)

  • 4 cup Water

  • 1/2 tsp Red Chili Powder

  • 1.5 tbsp Vegetable Oil

  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder ((optional))

  • 1-2 tsp Salt to taste

  • 1 tsp Ghee or Butter

  • 1/4 cup Coriander Leaves

  1. Turn on Instant Pot and press "Saute."

  1. Add oil and let it heat up.

  2. Then, add cumin seeds and let them fry until they start moving around in the oil like little ants. They will become wonderfully fragrant.

3. Add diced onions and stir fry them until transparent.

4. Now, add the diced tomato and cook until soupy. Let the tomatoes stew for a few minutes to release their sweetness. The tomatoes will go from individual pieces to a soupier mixture. The fragrance will change from raw to sweet. Caramelizing the tomatoes here makes a huge difference to the taste.

5. Then, add chili powder and coriander powder. Stir to mix.

6. Wash toor daal with cool water until the water runs clear and then add to the Instant Pot. Then, add the water and salt. Give it a little stir.

7. Press "Keep Warm/Cancel." Put the lid on. Twist and lock the lid. Make sure vent is set to the "Sealing" position.

8. Then, Press "Manual" and it will automatically set to high pressure. Adjust the time to 12 minutes. Wait a few seconds and then the cooking will start.

9. The Instant Pot will take a couple of minutes to come up to pressure, then the countdown will start. When the pot is done, it will beep.

10. Let the pressure release naturally (NPR). This will take about 5 minutes. You will know the pressure has disspated when the safety valve falls. When you turn the vent to the "Venting" position, no steam will release. Untwist the lid and give the daal a little stir. Admire your fragrant dal.

11. Top with chopped coriander leaves. Adjust salt to taste.

12. Serve with rice and a little ghee (clarified butter), with roti, or by itself as a soup.


If you wanted to get super fancy, you could use the instant pot trivet and put the rice in another container so it could cook all together (the "pot in pot" technique). I have two Instant Pots so I usually do the dal in one and basmati rice in the other. If you cook this recipe, let me know how it turns out! Happy cooking!

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