30 Minute Garlic Brown Lentil Dal (Pressure Cooker)
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30 Minute garlicky brown lentil dal made in the pressure cooker with just 6 ingredients! This is the perfect easy breezy recipe for Meatless Mondays!
So mental for those lentils!
These cute little brown buttons of health are turned into the smoothest, most garlicky brown lentil dal in just 30 minutes in the pressure cooker. Prefect for days when cooking seems like the worst thing in the world. You know we all have those days!
Speaking of those kinds of days. This past week was a kitchen, how should I put it nicely, NIGHTMARE. I can’t even begin to tell you how many things broke, ended up on the floor, got charred in the oven, or missed their photo opp. I needed to regroup, let out a good cry, make garlicky lentil dal and let it coddle me a bit till I was ready to get back in the kitchen and SLAY.
Thank you little pearls of nutrition for letting me over indulge in you while you kept me on the right track.
Sincerely, a brown lentil lover.
As we continue to rock back and forth between winter and spring my current favorite meals are the ones that involve humble ingredients to make cozy comfort food. This brown lentil dal fits that bill to the T. This very recipe was my absolute favorite thing to eat growing up. I was that weird child that LOVED lentils. Let’s not dwell on my weirdness for too long. Just agree that I was primed from an early age to do what I do, make and love food with all my heart.
Rather than calling this traditional Indian food, I’ll say this is ‘Indian inspired’ because we use a traditional method called ‘tadka’. But honestly, the spice levels are no where near where you expect them to be when you hear the words INDIAN FOOD. This dal is cozy, garlicky, and smooth from the richness of onions fried in ghee. We’re totally giving this dal the royal treatment lentils deserve.
Alright, let’s talk about how easy making brown lentil dal really is. It starts with brown lentils. If you aren’t a total lentil fanatic, they can be a little confusing. Raising my hand to tell you i’m totally lost unless we’re talking brown lentils. My world pretty much starts and ends at them. I use what’s called ‘whole masoor’ which are Indian brown lentils. You can also sub green lentils for this recipe and they’ll work just fine. Whatever you do, don’t use red lentils because the cooking time on those is a lot less which means you’ll end up with something completely different than what we’re after.
You can make brown lentil dal two ways – in the pressure cooker or on the stove. Before I owned the instant pot, also known as one of my most favorite kitchen tools, I was making this dal on the stove at least once a month because I just couldn’t get enough. With the pressure cooker, I’ll probably be making it once a WEEK because brown lentils are the best thing to ever happen. Especially when tons of garlic and a simple salad it paired with it.
Let me start by saying, this is NOT your typical Indian lentils that are heavy on the spices. This is a 6 ingredient dal that has lentils, garlic, red pepper flakes, onions, whole cumin seeds, and ghee. See how we’re not using garam masala, turmeric, chili powder and all the usual culprits from traditional Indian cooking? This brown lentil dal is mellow and earthy with tons of garlic flavor with just a hint of that red pepper flake heat.
If you’re making this on the stove top, you’ll need to soak the lentils for about 15 – 20 minutes before simmering, if you’re making it in a pressure cook, they go straight in, no presoaking required. Keep in mind it’s hard to give you an exact time on cooking lentils so these will need to be pressure cooked for 15-18 minutes, depending on how old they are. If you’ve had them in the pantry for a while, go with 18 minutes. If they’re fresh from the store, 15 will do them. Another tip, hold off on salting until you’ve cooked them through. They’ll take a lot longer to cook if you salt them from the start.
Once they’re cooking, you’ll do what’s called a tadka. It’s just a fancy way of saying you’re cooking sliced onions in ghee with sliced garlic, cumin seeds and red pepper flakes and topping the cooked lentils with this.
This creamy, cozy brown lentil dal recipe is just too perfect for words. Thick, hearty, and satisfying for a chilly evening with lots of garlicky flavor throughout. You can serve this on a bed of warm basmati rice or when you’re watching the carbs, cauliflower rice works great too. Keep this simple, I serve it with a a sliced onion and tomato salad tossed in lemon juice and sprinkled with salt and chopped cilantro.
Don’t overthink this one. Let those garlicky lentils shine bright.
P.S. It’s 6 ingredients if you don’t count the water and salt. I’d say those are staples when it comes to cooking that just don’t deserve a mention 🙂
- 1 cup brown lentils (aka whole masoor), rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 6 fresh cloves of garlic, divided
- ½ -1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- ¼ cup ghee (or 2 tablespoons oil + 2 tablespoons butter)
- ½ cup onions, thinly sliced (do not chop or dice)
- ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- Place the lentils in the instant pot along with the water. Grab 2 cloves of garlic and give them a smash with the knife and chop into medium pieces and add them in to the pressure cooker along with ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Cover with lid, press the bean/chili button and adjust time for 15-18 minutes.
- While the lentils are cooking, thinly slice the remaining 4 cloves of garlic and the onions. When the lentils are cooked, allow them to release the steam naturally, or to make this meal quicker, turn the knob to the 'venting' setting.
- Heat the ghee in a small skillet. Add the onions and let them cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat stirring so the onions start to brown evenly. Add the sliced garlic, cumin seeds, and another ½ -¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Continue to stir the oil and cook for another 2-4 minutes or until the onions start to just brown and the garlic is fragrant and deepens in color a bit. Pour the hot ghee/oil along with the onions and garlic mixture into the dal. Stir to combine. Season with the salt. Stir and adjust salt to taste. Serve warm over basmati rice and a quick onion and tomato salad (recipe in notes)
- Green lentils can be substituted for the brown lentils. I don't suggest using red lentils as they will definitely overcook in the cooking time. For best results, follow the recipe as written. The pressure cooking time for lentils will vary based on how old they are. 15 minutes if your lentils are fresh from the store and 18 if they've been in the pantry for a while.
- To make the lentils on the stove: soak the lentils in 3 cups of water for 15-20 minutes. Drain the lentils. Add the lentils to a pot along with 4 cups of water, let the lentils come to a simmer, lower the heat to medium low, and let simmer uncovered for 20-40 minutes or until the lentils can easily be mashed between your fingers. You may need additional water as well. Follow the rest of the recipe as written from step #3.
- For the tomato+onion salad: 1 cup thinly sliced onions + ½ cup thinly sliced tomatoes + 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro + a squeeze of lemon juice and a big pinch of salt. Stir it together in a bowl - that's it!
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