Vegan Instant Pot Three Lentil Dahl

This colorful, full-flavor vegan lentil dahl is made from a blend of three different kinds of pulses (edible seeds in the legume family). Making lentil dahl in an InstaPot or other pressure cooker brings out a delicious creaminess we don't find on the stovetop. Just a 20-minute hands-off cooking cycle and your dahl is ready. This lets you prepare your garam masala spice mixture, get your rice going and set the table while they cook. 

Why three different kinds of pulses? Each one brings a variety of nutrition and flavor profile. Urad dal is a naturally creamy lentil, Chana dal is a split Garbanzo Bean that gives an earthy flavor and Toor dal, or split Pigeon Pea, brings it all together.

This vegan dahl serves up 13 grams of protein and 23% of your RDA of iron in one serving!  See the nutritional analysis at the end of the article. You will be surprised by its high vitamin content! It's also low in fat, sugar, and calories (only 205 per serving) and high in fiber. Pulses are known to provide a feeling of fullness and curb cravings for a significant amount of time. It's perfect for weight loss and for athletes going for lean muscle. 

If we could choose only one dish to eat every day for the rest of our lives, this one would make our shortlist. 


Dahl is also spelled dal or dhal.

Pulses are a family of dried legumes that include peas, beans, chickpeas, and lentils. 

We could have called our recipe Three Pulse Dahl, but most people don't know what a pulse is, so we went with lentil :-)

bowl of vegan lentil dahl with cilantro and red pepper  colorful starburst pattern of dried lentils and beans  white bowl of freshly ground garam masala

Jump to Vegan InstaPot Three Lentil Dal Grocery List

Jump to Vegan InstaPot Three Lentil Dal Nutritional Analysis

Vegan Instant Pot Three Lentil Dal Recipe


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Garam Masala Spice Blend

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 green cardamom pods (seeds removed)
  • 1 dried red chili pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric root
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (we like coconut sugar or jaggary)
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted
  • Salt

Garnish (optional)

  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup vegan unsweetened yogurt


  1. Add the lentils and water to your Instant Pot. Set to pressure cook for 20 minutes. When done, you can quick-release the pressure. Open the lid and set to sauté and cook off any excess liquid.
  2. If you are cooking on a stovetop, cook the lentils at a low boil, stirring frequently until they are soft. Continue cooking until the dal is the consistency you want. We like it firm enough to stay on top of our rice and thin enough to taste creamy.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, place the Garam Masala Spice Blend ingredients in a small saucepan. Roast over medium heat until the dried chili is darkened and the spices are fragrant.
  4. Remove from heat. Cool for 5 minutes and then grind to a powder in an electric grinder or mortar and pestle.
  5. In your small saucepan lightly toast the coconut. Remove from heat when it’s fragrant and golden.
  6. Stir all the spices, sugar, and coconut into your lentils. Salt to taste. Cook until it is the consistency you like.
  7. Garnish with cilantro and vegan yogurt (optional). Serve over basmati rice, barley or millet, or with warm naan.

Chef's Notes 

We’ve made this recipe with our favorite lentils, but feel free to substitute in what you like and what you have.

This Garam Masala spice blend is easy to make, but if you don’t have these ingredients on hand and you do have a curry powder you like, please substitute.

Our Garam Masala recipe is about 2 stars out of 5 for spiciness. Add more chili peppers if you like your curries hotter. We're slowly warming our 5-year-old up to chili pepper heat! We share our secrets on how to help a child (or picky adult!) love vegetables, world cuisine flavors, and spicy food in our 9 Ninja Parenting Tips for the Picky Child paper. You can get the article on our Vegan Kids Page.

Electric spice grinder or mortar and pestle? We have a Shardor coffee grinder that we've dedicated as a spice grinder. We like this particular one because the metal bowl where the spices are ground is removable, making it easy to clean. 

When we have a small amount of spices to grind we prefer a simple porcelain mortar and pestle. It's quick and easy.

We hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you have an article or recipe requests, let us know on our Facebook page: Your Vegan FamilyWhile you're there, please like our page and share our posts!

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Written by Your Vegan Family 

Stacy and Markus live an adventurous vegan lifestyle and write articles about their experiences cooking global vegan cuisine, creating businesses, raising vegan kids, and traveling through more than 65 countries. They earned degrees in molecular biology and acupuncture, consulted over decades for healthcare companies and individuals, created businesses in Asian medicine, eco-tourism, cultural immersion, and taught yoga in myriad venues.

We’ve learned a lot from eating a plant-based diet for 25 years and are eager to share more with you. Learn more on our About Us page.

Vegan InstaPot Three Lentil Dal Recipe Grocery List: 

Most of the ingredients for this dish can be procured online at Pure Indian Foods. We like this Indian grocery because they have many organic options and a wide variety of products. We've tried ordering via Amazon but find it too time-consuming to source the variety of organic Indian groceries we want. 

  • cilantro (optional)
  • vegan unsweetened yogurt (optional)
  • Chana Dal
  • Urad Dal
  • Toor Dal
  • basmati rice, barley, millet, or naan (for serving)
  • bay leaves
  • green cardamom pods
  • whole dried red chili pepper
  • cumin seeds
  • ground cumin
  • ground turmeric root
  • sugar
  • finely unsweetened coconut
  • salt

Vegan InstaPot Three Lentil Dal Recipe Nutritional Analysis

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutritional calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice. When exact ingredients are not available in this database, the closest substitution is made. 

Percentages are based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet for an adult. 



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