Perfectly spiced, rich and creamy, can anything be more comforting than this Instant Pot tomato dal with red lentils?
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!
You can never go wrong with a hearty and satisfying dal lentil curry.
Content in this Post
- What is Tomato Dal?
- Instant Pot Tomato Dal Ingredients
- Health Benefits of Tomato Dal
- How To Make Instant Pot Tomato Dal With Red Lentils
- STEP 1: Soak Lentils
- STEP 2: Fry Seeds in Oil
- STEP 3: Fry Onions
- STEP 4: Add Garlic, Ginger, Chilis and Tomatoes
- STEP 5: Toss in Spices, Lentils and Water
- STEP 6: Pressure Cook the Tomato Dal
- What To Serve With Tomato Dal
- Storage Tips for Tomato Dal
- You’ll Also Love
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
- 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.
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.
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.
STEP 3: Fry Onions
Add in the diced onion and stir fry them for a few minutes until they begin to become translucent.
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.
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.
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.
Then, after cooking, carefully remove lid and stir. Serve with a sprinkle of cilantro on top!
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:
- Instant Pot Eggplant Curry With Bell Peppers (Bell Pepper Bharta)
- Bhindi Masala Okra Curry
- Instant Pot Chana Masala (Spiced Chickpea Curry)
- Instant Pot Chana Dal With Spinach (Split Chickpeas Curry)
- Instant Pot Aloo Gobi (Potato and Cauliflower Curry)
Indian Meat and Seafood Dishes:
- Instant Pot Chicken Biryani
- Instant Pot Fenugreek Chicken (Methi Murgh)
- Instant Pot Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)
- Instant Pot Mango Chicken Curry
- Skillet Shrimp Tikka Masala
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!
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
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 Tomato Dal With Red Lentils
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the chopped onions and sauté for 5-7 minutes until the onion is translucent.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, ginger and green chilis and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add all the spices along with the yellow dal, red lentils and water. Stir the ingredients well.
- 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.
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.