Happy Tuesday, readers! For all those of you who purchased an Instant Pot (Amazon affiliate link) during the amazing Amazon Black Friday deal, today I’m going to share one of our favorite Instant Pot recipes. If you love Indian food, you can make fake-out take-out Dal (Indian Lentils) that can turn a busy weeknight evening into a yummy feast for pennies on the dollar.
First, I need to give a little shout out to the folks at Canadian Lentils. This is not a sponsored post—I have received no compensation for writing this post—but I would not have this to share had I not connected with the folks from Canadian Lentils at the BlogHer Food conference this fall.
Along with some lovely recipes set out for us to share with our readers, Canadian Lentils provided mason jars with cup-sized servings of different lentils—perfect portions for their recipes—and then a wall of spices, set up for conference attendees to add to our lentils and bring home to cook.
Because our family loves Indian food, I grabbed their recipe for Indian Spiced Lentils along with a jar of red lentils, then added the spices in the recipe (with the help of their chef) in the proportions given. My family loved this dish when I came home and made it on the stovetop, so I put it on our regular rotation.
A few weeks later, the doorbell rang, our dog barked like crazy, and I opened the door to find a box from Canadian lentils, filled with some additional jars of lentils and recipes to try. How can you resist making a food that comes in this cute of a jar and is delivered to your home with no hassle?
Even though lentils, by their nature, are quick and easy to make on the stovetop, I wanted to give them a try in the Instant Pot. We had recently pressure-cooked black beans from dry without pre-soaking, and were so excited by the results, this box full of lentils seemed like a smart next experiment.
Here’s the truth: making lentils in the Instant Pot is not faster than cooking them on the stove. Most pressure cooker recipes speed up the cooking time, but this breaks even. Why even do it in the Instant Pot, then?
The results of pressure cooked lentils are so amazing—so creamy, so delicious–that they rival the best dal dishes we’ve had at fancy Indian restaurants. That’s right: using the pressure cooker transforms this dish from great to amazing.
I have slightly modified the spices for this recipe along with the cooking technique, but you can use the exact proportions listed in the original and have great success. (And again, if you don’t have an Instant Pot, this recipe was originally made for the stovetop—give it a try!)
Start by turning your Instant Pot on to sauté, then add a teaspoon of oil, and 1-2 teaspoons of butter, as well as the onions.
Cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened and starting to turn golden, then add the spices.
Toast these spices with the onions for about a minute, until nice and fragrant.
Add the lentils, stir to get them nice and coated with onions, oil, and spices, and then add the liquid and a small pinch of salt.
Last night, I added two cups of chicken stock and one cup of water. Why? Because I foolishly froze a giant chunk of stock the last time I made it, instead of taking the time to freeze it in individual portions like I normally do. I had two cups of unfrozen stock in my fridge, and so I used that and supplemented with water. (It still tasted great.)
Set the Instant Pot to 12 minutes at manual pressure, make sure the steam valve is closed, and walk away. In my machine, it takes roughly 3 minutes for this dish to come to pressure, so 15 minutes of cook time.
Allow natural pressure release for at least 12 minutes, then open and stir. (The longer you let them come back to normal pressure, the creamier they will be.) Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with rice or the starch of your choice. Sop up the dregs of lentils from your bowl with some naan or crusty bread.
Honestly, you can eat them without any accompaniment, they are just that good.
I hope you like these as much as we do, pressure-cooking friends!
(Note: As always, should you click on the Amazon affiliate link above, I may receive a small portion of the sale price of any item you purchase as compensation. Thank you.)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2-3 tsp butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp coriander
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp garlic powder, or roasted garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 cups stock or broth (water can also be used, just add additional salt as necessary)
- Set Instant Pot to sauté, then add oil, butter and diced onions.
- Cook until softened and just turning golden, 3-4 minutes.
- Add spices and toast for roughly one minute, until very fragrant.
- Add lentils, mix to coat with oil, spices and onions.
- Add broth, stir to combine.
- Place lid on Instant Pot, making sure steam valve is closed, and set manual pressure for 12 minutes.
- Allow natural pressure release for at least 12 minutes; the longer you allow them to come back to normal pressure, the creamier they will be.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with rice, quinoa, bread, or simply on their own.