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Red Lentil Dal

This easy Red Lentil Dal recipe is a homemade twist on the Indian classic. Completely vegan and naturally gluten-free, you can make Slow Cooker Lentil Dal or Instant Pot Dal to make weeknight cooking a breeze. Packed with warming spices and plant-based protein, it's a simple vegetarian recipe that's sure to go into regular rotation.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Instant Pot Dal, Lentil Dal
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 195kcal



  • ¾ cup red lentils
  • ¾ cup urid dal or yellow split peas, split mung beans, or just use all red lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes 400g can
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil or other neutral flavoured oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 green cardamom pods crushed / split open
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin, mustard, fennel, coriander and fenugreek seeds to the pan. Shake or stir the seeds frequently. When they smell fragrant, remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  • Place red lentils and urid dal into a fine mesh strainer, and rinse well until the water runs clear.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and sauté until translucent – about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute, then add the turmeric, toasted seeds,
    and salt and pepper.
  • Note! If you’re using the Instant Pot either as a pressure cooker or a slow cooker, you can do this step right in the IP using the sauté function.

To Make Slow Cooker Lentil Dal

  • Scrape the onions and spices and everything else out of the pan and into your slow cooker. Add the rinsed lentils, canned tomatoes, and vegetable broth.
  • Stir well to combine all ingredients.
  • Place lid on slow cooker and let cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
  • Remove lid after cooking time and stir. If the lentils are not fully cooked, replace the lid and cook for another 30-60 minutes, if needed.

To make Instant Pot Dal

  • Add the canned tomatoes to the spice mixture and stir to combine. Add the rinsed
    lentils and vegetable broth, and stir to make sure there are no lentils sticking to the bottom.
  • Seal the lid and set the Instant Pot to Pressure Cook on High for 10 minutes. When the
    pressure cooking cycle is done you can either use a quick release or let it release naturally.

To Serve

  • Serve the dal over hot brown rice or quinoa, or serve with a bit of bread to sop it up. I like to add red pepper flakes, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, and some fresh cilantro leaves.


  • Nutrition values are an estimate only.
  • I like to keep my lentil dal pretty mild so I can serve it to my kids, but by all means throw in some cayenne pepper or a pinch of chili flakes to spice things up.
  • Dal is one of those recipes that only improves with time, so by all means include a big batch in your weekly meal prep or batch cooking. You can even double the recipe if your slow cooker or Instant Pot is big enough.
  • You can keep a batch of dal for 3-5 days in the fridge, or freeze for up to three months.


Calories: 195kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 958mg | Potassium: 396mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 336IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 5mg