Instant Pot Dal Tarka or Dal Fry

Instant Pot Dal TarkaDal Tarka if you understand the meaning might sound like an oxymoron. After all, tarka or the process of tempering is what makes Indian lentils the magical soft pools of goodness that we all love. The dal tarka actually reverses this process.  Instead of finishing with the tarka we start with it, making this dish perfect for fix and forget cooking. On a busy evening, you can whip up this amazing pot of goodness, serve it with homemade or store made parathas and you are in business.

The house feels somewhat empty and somewhat normal, with mom and Guru Kamala gone.  Ah Guru Kamala, what an amazing personality who touched our lives and made it so much richer. My son Aadi, misses her deeply.  In his life, it is a void something that we are not sure how to completely fill.  Aadi remains his lovely charming self, while his sister has morphed into the demon that is a teenage daughter.

As for mom, I always miss her quiet presence, I slowly observe that every time she visits, she slows down just a little bit more.Well, the void for me as with almost anything else is filled with errands that are backed up, other things that are a part of life that goes on. And, guess what last week was fairly busy at work. Making me turn to the instant pot with a gusto.

Instant Pot Dal Tarka

For these coolish autumn evenings well into winter, a dish like this will be your friend. Thrown in a bunch of grated vegetables, think squash, zucchini, chopped bell peppers or anything that your heart fancies… Voila! Now we have our veggies covered. I often through in whatever I have handy, and something like this weekend I savor the dal just by itself.

Try the recipe and tell me what you think…

Instant Pot Dal Tarka or Dal Fry

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Instant Pot Dal Tarka or Dal Fry

A beautiful comforting fix and forget meal that is perfect for a busy autumn weeknight.


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 split moong lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to garnish


  1. Turn the instant pot to saute. Heat the oil at the base of the instant pot.
  2. Add in the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, minced ginger and minced garlic and saute until fragrant.
  3. Add in the lentils and saute lightly.
  4. Add in water, tomatoes, turmeric, cayenne pepper, salt cover and turn the setting to 20 minutes on the manual mode.
  5. Let the steam release naturally.
  6. Stir in the lime juice, garnish with cilantro and crushed red pepper flakes to serve.


This can be made in a stove top pressure cooker or the stove top following the same process. You need to adjust the cooking time down for the stove top cooker and increase the cooking time for the regular stove top.

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