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Instant Pot Tomato Dal With Red Lentils

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Perfectly spiced, rich and creamy, can anything be more comforting than this Instant Pot tomato dal with red lentils?

instant pot tomato dal with red lentils pin

Back when we used to go to Indian buffet restaurants often, time and again our plates were full of rice and dal (also spelled dahl).

Despite a wide range of dishes on the menu, this simple dish made of lentils is just too tempting to pass up.

Sure, we’d take a spoon or two of the other, more elaborate dishes to taste them and of course, they were all so good.

But, then it was always back to another round with a plate that looked, well, not too far off from this pic.

Now that we can’t dine out as easily, we prefer to make our dahl at home and enjoy it much the same. It’s so easy and fast to make with a pressure cooker.

Plus, it is super economical.

This tomato dal is still completely irrisistible!

instant pot tomato dal with red lentils closeup

You can never go wrong with a hearty and satisfying dal lentil curry.

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What is Tomato Dal?

Dal (also spelled dahl) is Hindi for dried legumes or pulses, most commonly lentils.

The term dal usually refers to a spiced lentil curry that can be thick or thin, or a soup depending on the recipe. There are countless variations of dal recipes.

Tomato dal is a lentil based curry with the addition of tomatoes and spices.

Instant Pot Tomato Dal Ingredients

instant pot tomato dal with red lentils ingredients mise en place
  • Red Lentils (Masoor Dal) — This recipe can be made with red lentils only, but we prefer the texture when we use a ratio of half red lentils and half pigeon peas.
  • Split Pigeon Peas (Toor Dal) — We enjoy a combination of red lentils and split pigeon peas in this recipe. Although, the tomato dal can be made with red lentils only, or with just toor dal if you prefer. Just ensure that your lentils add up to two cups in this recipe.
  • Tomatoes — We love diced San Marzano canned tomatoes, but you can sub fresh chopped tomatoes in this.
  • Onions — diced red, white or yellow onion.
  • Coconut Oil — the coconut oil in this dish is what really makes this a standout dal recipe for us. You will love how creamy it is the first time you make it as well as when you reheat any leftovers.
  • Nigella Seeds (Kalonji) — these seeds are optional in the dish, but we just love them so much we could not resist!
  • Cumin Seeds — this gives the dal its earthy, signature flavor.
  • Ginger — fresh, peeled and minced. We like to keep peeled, one inch pieces of ginger in our freezer. It’s easy to take out a piece anytime its needed and you can grate it easily while frozen!
  • Green Chili — use 1-2 green chilis, or omit if you prefer a mild curry.
  • Garlic — fresh cloves of garlic, peeled and minced by hand or put through a press.
  • Garam Masala — Indian spice blend found at Indian grocery stores, and is carried in most grocery stores.
  • Turmeric — ground
  • Coriander — ground
  • Cumin — ground
  • Salt — Himalayan pink salt
  • Chili Powder — optional, but recommended.

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Health Benefits of Tomato Dal

Tomato dal is rich in protein, potassium and fiber. It’s a highly satisfying vegetarian, and vegan dish.

Tomato dal is full of vitamins and minerals. It has vitamin B6, folate, zinc, magnesium as well as calcium, to name a few.

Lentil curries with tomato based sauces are lower in calories and saturated fat in comparison with other curries that use cream.

How To Make Instant Pot Tomato Dal With Red Lentils

STEP 1: Soak Lentils

Carefully examine your lentils to ensure there are no hard debris like small stones from the package. We don’t usually find anything, but it’s nice to pour the dry lentils onto a plate and check just to be sure.

Using a colander, rinse the lentils with water until the water runs mostly clear and then transfer lentils to a large bowl and add water to cover.

Allow the lentils to soak while you continue on with the next steps.

instant pot tomato dal with red lentils step 2

STEP 2: Fry Seeds in Oil

Turn on your Instant Pot SAUTE function. Add oil and allow to heat up. Next, add cumin and kalonji seeds. Allow them to cook for a minute or two.

instant pot tomato dal with red lentils step 1

STEP 3: Fry Onions

Add in the diced onion and stir fry them for a few minutes until they begin to become translucent.

instant pot tomato dal with red lentils step 3

STEP 4: Add Garlic, Ginger, Chilis and Tomatoes

Add garlic, ginger and green chilis to the onions. You can stir fry them for a minute or so if you wish.

Add the chopped tomatoes, from a can (we like San Marzano style) or fresh tomatoes if you’d rather. We like the sauciness of the canned tomatoes.

Don’t worry, if you accidentally put the tomatoes in first, you can still add in the garlic, ginger and chilis afterward as we’ve done here. The dish will be outstanding regardless of the order of these ingredients.

instant pot tomato dal with red lentils step 5

STEP 5: Toss in Spices, Lentils and Water

The next step is to place all of the spices into the Instant Pot. Measure out the proper amounts of turmeric, garam masala, coriander, cumin, and chili powder if using.

As well, you’ll need to add in all of the soaked and drained lentils plus five cups of water.

instant pot tomato dal with red lentils step 6

STEP 6: Pressure Cook the Tomato Dal

Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and move the pressure valve to Sealing.

Select HIGH pressure and normal temperature for 7 minutes.

Let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes after the pressure cycle is completed, then release the remaining pressure.

instant pot tomato dal with red lentils step 7

Then, after cooking, carefully remove lid and stir. Serve with a sprinkle of cilantro on top!

instant pot tomato dal with red lentils closeup

What To Serve With Tomato Dal

Oftentimes, tomato dal is best enjoyed simply with basmati rice and Indian pickle (achaar).

Tomato dal can also be enjoyed with more Indian style vegetarian or meat dishes. You can add any of the following to your dinner menu.

Indian Vegetarian Dishes:

Indian Meat and Seafood Dishes:

Here’s a quick Indian inspired menu with Instant Pot chana masala. This comes together so quickly, especially since we have two Instant Pots.

We have included a side of cucumber raita because we like it so much, but it’s not necessary.

Although, depending on the spice levels of your dishes, it is nice to have for its cooling effect. If you love raita and fresh dill, you’ll want to give this lemon dill raita a try.

This menu can be made in less than an hour and is a super satisfying and comforting choice!

instant pot tomato dal with red lentils dinner idea

Storage Tips for Tomato Dal

I like to reheat this the next day in a skillet on the stove top. The coconut oil in it allows the dal to become deliciously creamy again, just as good if not better than when it was first made. Or, you can reheat your dal in an Instant Pot, in saute mode.

Dal will keep in your fridge for up to five days, although it’s best to consume leftovers while they’re freshest, within three days. Make sure they’re properly stored in an air tight container.

You can freeze dal in a freezer safe, airtight container for up to three months. Thaw it out and reheat in a skillet or pot on the stove top. Alternatively, use an Instant Pot in saute mode.

You’ll Also Love

Instant Pot Radish Sambar is chock full of flavor and goes perfectly with masala dosa that you can make with Instant Pot potato beet masala.

Sambar is a South Indian style hot and spicy lentil soup that is often paired with savory crepes called dosa with a spiced potato filling.

Add some chutneys and you’ve got an amazingly flavorful and colorful menu that is hard to beat! This is another one of our favorite homemade restaurant style menus that comes together quickly.

instant pot radish sambar presentation

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instant pot tomato dal with red lentils recipe

Instant Pot Tomato Dal With Red Lentils

Susan & Björn
Rich and creamy, with a velvety texture, this ultra satisfying, protein rich tomato dal is the perfect go-to for comfort food at the last minute. Serve this Indian inspired lentil curry with basmati rice and mango pickle, or as part of a larger meal with additional curries. If desired, top with stir fried onions and chopped cilantro.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Calories 164 kcal
Fiber 10 g
Carbohydrates 25 g


1 Instant Pot 6 Quart


  • 1 cup Pigeon Peas , (Toor dal) soaked 15-20 minutes
  • 1 cup Red Lentils, (Masoor dal) soaked 15-20 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Kalonji Seeds, Nigella seeds, optional
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Green Chili, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 inch Ginger, finely chopped
  • 14 ounces Canned Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Salt, Himalayan
  • ¼ teaspoon Chili Powder, optional
  • 5 cups Water, filtered


  • Rinse and soak the pigeon peas and red lentils in water. Set aside.
    instant pot tomato dal with red lentils step 2
  • Press Sauté on the Instant Pot and add the coconut oil. When the display reads "HOT" add the cumin and kalonji seeds and sauté for 2-3 minutes until they sputter.
    instant pot tomato dal with red lentils step 1
  • Add the chopped onions and sauté for 5-7 minutes until the onion is translucent.
    instant pot tomato dal with red lentils step 3
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, ginger and green chilis and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
    instant pot tomato dal with red lentils step 5
  • Add all the spices along with the yellow dal, red lentils and water. Stir the ingredients well.
    instant pot tomato dal with red lentils step 6
  • Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Pressure cook on HIGH pressure, normal temperature for 7 minutes. Let naturally release the pressure for 15 minutes after the pressure cycle is completed, then release all the pressure.
    instant pot tomato dal with red lentils step 7


Calories: 164kcal Carbohydrates: 25g Fiber: 10g Net Carbohydrates: 15g Protein: 9g Fat: 4g Saturated Fat: 3g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g Sodium: 373mg Potassium: 492mg Sugar: 3g Vitamin A: 142IU Vitamin C: 7mg Calcium: 55mg Iron: 3mg


The above nutritional values are estimates and should only be used as a guide. If you are following a specific diet or have dietary restrictions, please use your preferred nutritional calculator. If you have a food allergy please ensure that none of the listed ingredients are part of your restrictions. As well, always use a food thermometer to ensure safe cooking temperature of the food items.

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