Instant Pot Dal Fry

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This recipe for Dal Fry is very close to my heart because it comes from my mom’s kitchen. This is my humble attempt to recreate the hearty and lip-smacking dal my mom makes at home. This is her signature dish – simple and elegant, just like her.

An overhead shot of dal fry along with rotis on the side

Dal, or Dahl as the British called it, has been a staple food in Indian cuisine with many variations, with Tadka Dal, Dal Fry, and Dal Makhni being one of the popular ones.

While most people are familiar with Dal Makhani (dal made with black lentils and kidney beans), they often wonder how tadka dal and dal fry are different from each other. Let’s address that first before we move on to the recipe.

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What’s the difference between Tadka Dal and Dal fry?

Dal, also, popularly known as Indian lentil soup, is typically made using either – Tuvar / Toor (split pigeon peas), Moong (split moong beans), Chana dal (split chickpeas), or Masoor (split red lentil) or sometimes even a combination of these pulses.

If you are new to Indian cooking, Tadka dal would probably be a good recipe to start with. All you need to do is add dal (tuvar or moong) along with onions, tomatoes, and green chilies in a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot. Cook it till the dal is soft. Temper it with oil, cumin/mustard seeds, red chilies, and asafoetida, and you are all set. Here’s an easy Tadka dal recipe for you to try – it is both simple and satisfying.

On the other hand, if you want to try something exquisite, lip-smacking, and finger-licking good 😀 – you should make dal fry.

How to make dal fry?

In dal fry, the dal (either tuvar or moong) is cooked and set aside. Tomatoes are then pureed along with green chilies, ginger, and garlic and then fried in ghee along with a few spices till the raw taste disappears. The cooked dal is then added to this mixture, and the flavors are allowed to meld in.

Tadka Dal was a common fare at our home but not Dal Fry. Mom made Dal Fry when we had guests over, and now she makes it every time we visit because my little one loves her dal. The weird thing is, somehow, I usually make this too when we have company.. in a way that tradition has lived on.

Dal fry goes well with rotis and jeera rice.

An overhead shot of dal fry garnished with cilantro along with rotis and rice on the side
Dal fry

If you are not familiar with Instant Pot, here are a few articles that might help
Instant Pot pressure cooker review – Do you really need one?
All you need to know about your Instant Pot 

Looking for more curry recipes? Check out these popular ones from the blog – 

  1. Tadka dal – One-pot recipes are the best! That’s why you’ll love this Tadka dal (tempered dal) recipe – make it in an Instant Pot or a pressure cooker – and you’ll have your meal ready in no time.
  2. Instant Pot Rajma masala – Use your pressure cooker or Instant Pot to make this quick & delicious Dhaba-style Punjabi rajma masala. While you can serve it with rotis, the combination of rajma and chawal (rice) is what makes this dish truly special.
  3. Chana masala – This vegan one-pot curry can be made in an Instant Pot as well as a stovetop Pressure cooker. Get all the deets on how to make this delicious curry at home!
  4. Paneer makhani – Learn how to make your favorite take-out curry –  Restaurant-style Paneer Butter Masala or Paneer Makhani at home in less than 40 minutes!
  5. Restaurant-Style Dal Makhani – You’ve got to try this creamy and delicious Punjabi lentil curry that graces the menus of Indian restaurants worldwide. Learn how to replicate the flavors of this traditionally slow-cooked curry quickly in an Instant Pot. 

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dal served in a black bowl with rice, roti and water on the side
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5 from 5 votes

Dal Fry

This recipe for Dal Fry is very close to my heart because it comes from my mom’s kitchen. This is my humble attempt to recreate the hearty and lip-smacking dal my mom makes in an Instant Pot. Stovetop recipe is included as well.
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients
  

To be pressure cooked

Other ingredients

  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes pureed
  • 2 green chilies slit lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon coriander dhania powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin jeera powder
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or ghee clarified butter
  • salt to taste

For the tempering

  • 1 tablespoon ghee clarified butter
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced to a paste
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro / coriander leaves for garnishing

Instructions
 

Using a pressure cooker

  • Pressure cook the dal on medium heat with 2 cups of water (I cook till the vent goes off 4 times and the dal is well cooked.) Shut the gas off and set aside.
  • On medium heat, add oil or ghee (if using) to a wok or kadhai followed by tomatoes, cumin and coriander powder and green chilies. Fry the tomato puree until the oil separates out or when the tomato puree loses the moisture and has a thick gravy-like appearance.
  • Add the pressure cooked dal, salt, turmeric powder and mix well. Simmer it for 10 minutes. Add water (if needed) to get the dal to a consistency you like.
  • Heat ghee in a separate pan and add cumin seeds and when they start to sputter, add minced garlic cloves. Fry for around 10-20 seconds and then add this to the dal in the cooker.
  • Garnish it with coriander leaves before serving.

Using Instant Pot

  • Add dal along with 2 cups of water in the steel insert of the Instant Pot and then select “Pressure Cook.”
  • Adjust the time to 20 minutes and set the pressure selection to high. Cover the Instant Pot lid and lock it. Make sure the vent is at sealing position.
  • When the vent returns to the venting position, open the Instant pot lid and transfer the dal to another container and set aside. Rinse and dry the steel insert of the Instant Pot.
  • Place the steel insert in the Instant Pot and press the Saute function. Press the Adjust button to move the selection to “medium” and wait till the display reads “Hot.”
  • Add oil or ghee (if using) and once it heats up, add the pureed tomatoes, cumin and coriander powder and green chilies. Fry the tomato puree until the oil separates out and has a thick gravy-like appearance.
  • Add the pressure cooked dal, salt, turmeric powder and mix well. Press Warm/ Cancel and then press the Saute function.
  • Press the Adjust button to move the selection to “low”. Simmer the dal for 10 minutes. Add water (if needed) to get the dal to a consistency you like.
  • Heat ghee in a separate pan and add cumin seeds and when they start to sputter, add minced garlic cloves. Fry for around 10-20 seconds and then add this to the dal in the cooker.
  • Garnish it with coriander leaves before serving.

Notes

My mom doesn’t use onions in her version of dal fry. But if you prefer to use onions, add them after the oil gets hot in step 2 and saute them till they are soft and translucent and then add the pureed tomatoes.
Read the post…For helpful information on ingredient swaps, storage tips, meal prep ideas, and variations!

Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.

Nutrition

Calories: 267kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 15gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 350mgPotassium: 370mgFiber: 8gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 445IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 86mgIron: 4.2mg
Diet: Vegetarian
Course: Entree
Method: Instant Pot
Keywords: Authentic, Instant Pot
Cuisine: Indian
Did you enjoy this recipe or have a question?Please leave a comment below. Don’t forget to rate!

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10 Comments

  1. Hi Anushree,

    Moong dal, people say, cooks very fast. Yet you ask for 20 minutes in the IP on high-pressure setting. Is there a danger of the dal being overcooked?

    Thanks.
    Sridhar

    1. Hi Sridhar, Usually 10 minutes is enough for moong dal. For this recipe, I really wanted completely mushed-up dal, that’s why I cooked it for so long.

    1. Yeah, you could but the dal will take some time to cook. Instead of a pressure cooker use a saucepan to cook the dal and follow the same process of adding the cooked dal to the base gravy. Hope this helps.

  2. Hey Anu,
    Can I use Masoor Dal instead? If so, any difference in cooking the day in instant pot?
    Thanks,
    Jothy

    1. Yes, Jothy, You could. I usually like to mix masoor dal with some other dal but if you don’t have any other dal – go for it. The same cook time will work.

  3. Dal is almost a everyday recipe in Indian kitchen. Today I tried your recipe. Everyone in family liked it. Thumbs up