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Instant Pot Punjabi-Style Black Lentils

February 21, 2020

By Kath Dedon


Inspired by Deb Perelman’s recipe for Punjabi-Style Black Lentils, I decided to see if I could adapt it to make it in my Instant Pot. I have to say, it worked quite well and my Instant Pot Punjabi-Style Black Lentils was delicious.

You might wonder why it is called “Punjabi-Style”. It is very similar to Dal Makhani, a dish from the Punjab region of northern India. Dal Makhani is made with a black bean called urad dal, which is not the same as the lentils called black beluga lentils. For most people in the U.S., black beluga lentils are easier to find than black urad dal. Deb used black beluga lentils and I decided to follow her lead. I found them at Metropolitan Market in Seattle.

Melissa Clark, of the New York Times, has a handy guide about using an Instant Pot. It has a section on how to convert conventional recipes for the Instant Pot. Following her guidelines, I reduced the cooking time and the water. I was very pleased with the way my Instant Pot Punjabi-Style Black Lentils turned out! Give it a try if you have an Instant Pot. If you don’t, try Deb’s recipe on her Smitten Kitchen blog.



















Instant Pot Punjabi-Style Black Lentils

(Adapted from Deb Perelman’s stovetop version on Smitten Kitchen)


(print the recipe)


Serves 4 – 6


2 tablespoons butter, oil, or ghee (I used butter.)

½ large yellow onion, finely chopped

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

1-inch piece of peeled ginger, finely chopped (2-3 tablespoons)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon garam masala

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1½ cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried black beluga lentils


To Finish:

1½ tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Handful of chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Chop the onion and set it aside.
  2. Chop the ginger and garlic and put them both in a small bowl.
  3. Put the crushed tomatoes in a bowl, and then add the coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and cayenne pepper to the bowl. (They all get added to the pot at the same time.)
  4. Using the Sauté function, heat the Instant Pot until it indicates that it’s hot. Add the butter (or oil) to the pot. As soon as it’s melted, add the chopped onions and cumin seeds. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is starting to brown.
  5. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for a minute more.
  6. Add the crushed tomatoes with the spices and cook, stirring often, for about 3 more minutes.
  7. Add the water, salt, and lentils. Stir.
  8. Press the Keep Warm/Cancel button to stop the sauté function. Put the cover on the pot, setting the Pressure Release to Sealing. Press the Manual button and set the time to 13 minutes.
  9. When the 13 minutes of pressure cooking is up, do nothing and let the pressure release naturally. (I didn’t time it, but it takes about 15 – 20 minutes.)
  10. When the pressure has released, open the pot. Put the butter on the lentils to melt and stir in the cream.
  11. Serve and top each serving with cilantro, if desire.


























7 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    February 21, 2020 12:52 pm

    Oh nice! We love this recipe. Nice to have it adapted for the InstantPot 🙂

  2. February 24, 2020 5:21 am

    Sounds delicious, Kath. I have to say, although I love lentils the black ones had completely escaped my attention. I’ll have to remedy that soon!

    • February 24, 2020 8:02 am

      This is the first time I had tried them, too, Frank. They hold their shape like French (Le Puy). I’m looking forward to trying them in other recipes.

  3. bingingonabudget permalink
    February 24, 2020 6:31 am

    This recipe looks awesome, I can’t wait to try it. Do you have other instant pot recipes on your blog?

    • February 24, 2020 8:07 am

      Thank you! Yes, I do have other Instant Pot recipes. On the right hand side, just under the search box, you’ll see “Select Category”. Click on the arrow and scroll down to choose Instant Pot. My Instant Pot recipes will be listed. I know the list will be growing, as I’m using my Instant Pot quite often.

  4. August 29, 2020 3:57 pm

    Thank your posting an isntapot version! I’m going to try it.

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