Instant Pot

Archana Mundhe's Instant Pot Spicy Lentils

October 12, 2018
12 Ratings
Photo by Colin Price
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Reprinted with permission from The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, copyright © 2018 by Archana Mundhe. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photograph copyright © 2018 by Colin Price.

Punjabi dhabas have long been popular roadside stops for travelers looking for a bite to eat. Wooden cots laid under starry skies provide a place to rest and eat, often while Bollywood songs play in the background. My favorite way to end a meal at a dhaba is with an order of daal fry. Simple yellow daal with a smoky, nutty tadka of generous amounts of ghee and whole spices served with jeera rice is comfort food at its best. —Food52

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 9 Instant Pot Indian Recipes for Rich, Comforting Flavor Fast. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Tadka
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon hing (asafetida; optional)
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 or 2 dried Kashmiri red chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chile powder or another mild red chile powder
  • Daal
  • 1 tablespoon tablespoon ghee or neutral vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced hot green chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 plum tomato, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup masoor daal, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup moong daal, rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water (for the rice)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  1. To make the tadka: Select the high Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the ghee. Add the cumin seeds and hing directly to the hot ghee at the bottom edges of the pot and cook until the cumin seeds start to sizzle, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until it starts to turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the red chiles and chile powder and stir to mix well. Press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot. Wearing heat-resistant mitts, lift out the inner pot and transfer the tadka to a bowl. Set aside. Return the inner pot to the housing.
  2. To make the daal: Select the high Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the ghee. Stir in the onion, ginger, green chiles, and turmeric and sauté for 1 minute. Add the tomato, masoor daal, moong daal, and salt; pour in the water; and stir.
  3. To make the rice: In a 1 1/2-quart stainless-steel bowl that will fit in the Instant Pot, stir together the rice, water, and salt. Place a tall steam rack in the pot, making sure its legs are resting on the bottom. Place the bowl of rice on the rack.
  4. Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select the Pressure Cook or Manual setting and set the cooking time for 6 minutes at high pressure.
  5. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot. Using heat-resistant mitts, place the bowl of rice on a trivet and remove the tall steam rack. Stir the daal with a spatula. Sprinkle the daal with cilantro, pour the reserved tadka over the top, then ladle the daal into bowls and serve with the rice.
  6. Vegan variation: Substitute neutral vegetable oil or coconut oil for the ghee in the tadka. Use neutral vegetable oil in the daal.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Karen Lee
    Karen Lee
  • Archana Deshmukh-Mundhe
    Archana Deshmukh-Mundhe
  • bmallorca
  • Ocean Park
    Ocean Park
  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim

10 Reviews

Karen L. June 23, 2020
What a great recipe! I love all your recipes in your cookbook Archana! This is another winner!
Archana D. January 3, 2020
Hi Eric K.

I am the author of The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook. This recipe has an error - It should be 1.5 cups of uncooked basmati rice and not 3 cups uncooked basmati rice. You can verify this in the book itself. Please correct so the recipe comes out perfect for everyone who tries it! Thank you.
Eric K. January 4, 2020
bmallorca December 6, 2018
I was just now trying to read the reviews and think I might have given this recipe one star. Please delete that for me, if I actually did it. Thanks! I'm interested in this recipe for sure
Ocean P. October 22, 2018
I think the ingredients list has an error. It says 3 cups of cooked rice but then the recipe gives instructions about how to cook the rice. Should it be 3 cups of uncooked rice or a different amount?
Millie J. October 31, 2018
I agree, Ocean. I assume it should say 3 cups uncooked rice, since the typical recipe's ratio is 1:1 for white Basmati rice to water in an IP. That will yield a giant amount of cooked rice (6 cups) for 4 servings!
Eric K. November 23, 2018
Thanks for catching! I've updated the recipe to account for the rice ingredients.
Millie J. November 25, 2018
Eric, can you please clarify - does the pot-in-pot rice consist of 3 cups uncooked rice and 1.5 cups water? And the 3 cups of water goes in the main insert pot with the lentils etc.?
Eric K. November 26, 2018
Hi Millie, that's correct! 3 cups uncooked rice and 1.5 cups water. And the other 3 cups of water go with the lentils. I've clarified the ingredients list above; hope that helps.

Alternatively: Just served with ordinary cooked rice on the side. This method in the recipe just helps you cook the rice with the lentils, if you'd like.
Archana D. January 3, 2020
This should be 1.5 cups of rice and not 3 cups as per the original recipe from the book.