Instant Pot Indian: Gujarati Toor Dal

July 26, 2022 2 Comments

Instant Pot Indian: Gujarati Toor Dal

Just look at this bowl and it will tell you everything that makes this dal so addictive. There is so much going on, and the way it all pulls together will have you filling your bowl over and over again. The base is earthiness from the split and skinned Pigeon Peas (Toor Dal). Then, there is crunch from the peanuts, a touch of bitterness from the fenugreek seeds, heat from the green chiles, tart from the tamarind - all balanced beautifully and kissed softly with brown sugar. Traditionally, foods from the western state of Gujarat have a layer of sweetness, which sets them apart from Punjabi cuisine (we rarely if ever add sugar to savory dishes). But, when you know how to add those sweet notes it makes for a dish that is at once satisfying and yes, addictive. That's why this Punjabi girl is making Gujarati dal for dinner tonight! To watch me make it on Facebook Live, click here. I won't lie, I had three bowls all poured over plain, basmati rice kissed with ghee. This recipe is from my upcoming book Instant Pot Indian to be released in April 2023 from Agate Publishing. I hope you'll make it and send me your feedback in the comment section below. 


Gujarati Toor Dal 
Instant Pot Size: 3 quart or larger
Warm Up: 22 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Cool Down: 10 minutes NR + MR
TOTAL: soak time + 40 minutes + tarka + sauté 
Makes: 7 ½ cups

1 ½ cups duhli toor dal (dried, split, and skinned pigeon peas), picked over and washed
2 tablespoons raw, unsalted peanuts (with or without skin)
1 tablespoon tamarind puree 
6 cups water, for cooking
1 tablespoon gur (jaggery) or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt

For Tarka (Tempering)
2 tablespoons oil or ghee
1 pinch hing (asafoetida) (optional)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
10 fresh curry leaves
1 cassia leaf or 2 bay leaves
2 cloves
1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick
4 whole dried red chiles, broken into pieces
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, minced
1-3 fresh Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and sliced lengthwise
1 small tomato, finely diced
Juice of 1 lemon, add later
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

1. Soak the toor dal in ample boiled, hot water for at least 10 minutes or room temperature water for at least 20 minutes. Drain and discard the water.

2. In a separate bowl, soak the peanuts in room temperature water. Set aside.

3. Place the inner pot in your Instant Pot and add the toor dal, tamarind, and cooking water. Lock the lid into place and make sure the pressure release valve is set to the sealing position (upwards). Press the PRESSURE COOK button and then press the PRESSURE LEVEL button until the panel reads HIGH. Adjust the cook time to 8 minutes. You can also use the spice kokum instead of tamarind for tartness. Just add in the dried pieces in this step and be sure to pull them out after cooking and before blending down in Step 5. 

4. Once the cooking is complete, release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes. Then, manually release the remaining pressure, press CANCEL, and remove the lid. Cover the release valve with a dishcloth you don’t mind staining to avoid splattering. Use the condensation collector cup – some contents may come out of the back – just dump it back into the pot once all the pressure has released.

5. With a regular or immersion blender, process the cooked dal until it is completely smooth. If using an immersion blender, you may need to tilt the pot, so the contents don’t splash.

6. Add the drained peanuts, sugar, and salt. Stir and set aside. If using kokum, add that back in now. 

7. Prepare the tarka on the stovetop by warming the oil in a shallow pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to smoke slightly, add the hing, turmeric, curry leaves, cassia or bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, dried chiles, mustard, cumin, and fenugreek. Stir and cook for 1 minute until the seeds sizzle. Don’t overcook because the fenugreek can become bitter but be sure the curry leaves cook through and turn slightly brown. Keep a lid handy – the oil can splatter.

8. Add the ginger, fresh chiles, and tomato. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.

9. Carefully transfer this mixture to the cooked dal and stir.

10. Press the SAUTE button, adjust to NORMAL, and simmer for 3-4 minutes. This helps pull the dal and tarka together. If the contents splatter, just place a lid slightly ajar over the pot.

11. Press CANCEL. Add the lemon juice and cilantro. Stir again and serve piping hot over plain basmati rice. You can remove the bay leaves, cloves, and cinnamon stick or leave them in for flavor and eat around them – all the other spices are edible.

Note: Some Instant Pot recipes make the dal and the tarka together. I prefer separating these steps so that you can blend the dal down completely. I also feel like it gives this dish a fresher taste profile. 

STOVETOP TIPS: This is probably one of the simplest recipe to convert to stovetop. Simply cook the ingredients in Step 3 in a roomy pot on the stovetop. Simmer your dal about 15 minutes in a covered pot. Leave the lid slightly ajar to avoid it spilling over. If it looks a little dry, simply add another 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water to make up for evaporation. Then, follow the remaining ingredients. 



2 Responses


July 29, 2022

Hi Sara. Please see the notes that I added at the bottom. Simply replace the IP with a roomy pot. I am going to make this again on the stove to give you an exact simmer time and water amounts. But, it’s super simple to convert this one! Let me know what you think. I hope you’ll make it.


July 29, 2022

Hi. This looks fabulous! Is there a modification for cooking without an instant pot? Thank you.

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