This Instant Pot Dhal recipe is a shortcut to delicious, creamy traditional Guyanese dhal. Serve this soup as is or with a side of roti or white rice for the ultimate comfort meal.
Guyanese Instant Pot Dhal
I’ve been making dhal in my instant pot since I bought my first instant pot in 2014 because it is such a time saver and delivers excellent results every time. When you want traditional Guyanese dhal in a fraction of the time, this is the go-to recipe!
Why You’ll Love This Instant Pot Dhal Recipe
- Quick and Easy: Save at least 30 minutes of cooking time with the instant pot method. And there’s no worry of a pot boiling over on the stove. Simply set it and forget it!
- So Delicious: A shortcut doesn’t mean we’re skimping on quality or flavor. This tastes like it was cooking for hours on the fireside.
- Excellent Comfort Food: On cold days, I drink this straight out of a cup. It’s warm and the perfect meal when you want to feel cozy.
Traditional Dhal vs Instant Pot Dhal
When making traditional Guyanese dhal, I cook the yellow split peas in water seasoned with garlic, onion, curry powder, and geera. Then once the yellow split peas are tender (to the point when it melts into the water) I would chunkay (fry up in oil) my chopped garlic, add it to the dhal, and mix.
- Guyanese Instant Pot Dhal
- Why You’ll Love This Instant Pot Dhal Recipe
- Traditional Dhal vs Instant Pot Dhal
- Ingredients for Instant Pot Dhal
- How to Make Guyanese Dhal in the Instant Pot
- Substitutions & Variations
- Tips for the Best Instant Pot Dhal
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Instant Pot Dhal
For this Guyanese instant pot dhal recipe I wanted to do everything in the instant pot. So I fried up the garlic in the instant pot first, until it was almost burnt just like I would if I were doing it on the stovetop, then I added the onions, followed by the yellow split peas and the curry and spices. After that, I sealed it up and pressure cooked for half an hour. Once it was done pressure cooking, the dhal was ready, and nothing else was needed.
Ingredients for Instant Pot Dhal
Dhal comes together easily with yellow split peas, water, oil, aromatics, and spices.
- Yellow split peas: Wash them before using.
- Water: The liquid base of the soup.
- Cooking Oil: Use avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, or sunflower oil.
- Fresh Garlic Cloves: Chopped and thinly sliced.
- Yellow Onion: Diced.
- Curry powder: This has a deep earthy flavor and gives the broth that distinct yellow hue.
- Ground turmeric or turmeric powder: This optional ingredient contributes to the color and enhances the overall taste.
- Cayenne Pepper: Add this optional ingredient for a kick of spice.
- Ground Geera: Ground, roasted cumin adds a hearty depth and a hint of citrus flavor.
- Salt: Just a little to taste.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Guyanese Dhal in the Instant Pot
Chunkay the garlic first for the same flavor payoff and less hassle versus using another pan and sautéing it at the end.
Then add your whole cumin or geera (ground cumin). Either works. I’m using geera in the photo above.
Pressure cook, then use a whisk or dhal gutney to mix together well before serving.
The dhal was so perfect that all I needed to do was whisk it up a little before serving. I’ve also made dhal using a traditional pressure cooker. You can find that recipe here.
Substitutions & Variations
If you already have a solid dhal recipe––meaning you season your dhal a particular way––you can still use this recipe for the measurements but season your dhal however you like.
My mom likes whole roasted geera (cumin) in her dhal but my husband does not. My mother always adds turmeric and garam masala to her dhal but sometimes I leave it out and increase the curry powder.
I have also seen recipes that include chicken bouillon, ginger, peppers, tomatoes, spinach (at the very end), and even pumpkin. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong when it comes to dhal, so do what makes you happy!
- Instant Pot: Use this to cook the dhal. If you don’t already have an instant pot, I recommend this one here.
- Whisk/Dhal Gutney/Immersion Blender: Use one of these tools to ensure the dhal has a silky smooth consistency. I have tried each method and the dhal gutney is the best. It’s a wooden tool that easily breaks down the peas.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat it in the microwave or over medium heat on the stove.
Tips for the Best Instant Pot Dhal
- This recipe is far more forgiving than cooking over the stovetop so the instant pot can be left on natural release if necessary.
- If your dhal seems too thin or watery, put it on sauté mode and cook it for an additional 3 minutes.
- Multiply this recipe if you’re serving a larger group. My water-to-peas ratio is 4 cups of water for one cup of split peas.
- Contrary to an old wives’ tale, adding onions to dhal does not make it spoil. I’ve been making this recipe for nearly 30 years with onions and have never had an issue.
- Serve instant pot dhal with roti, white rice, a curry, or any vegetable dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Soaking split peas helps them cook faster and may make them easier to digest but this is not a mandatory step.
One serving of this recipe is 211 calories.
It takes about 20-30 minutes to cook instant pot dhal.
Instant Pot Dhal
- Instant Pot
- Whisk/Dhal Gutney/Immersion Blender
- 1 cup yellow split peas washed
- 4 cups of water
- 1/4 cup oil suitable for cooking like avocado coconut, olive or sunflower oil
- 8 cloves of garlic 4 cloves finely chopped and 4 thinly slicked
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 tablespoon of curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric or turmeric powder optional
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 1 teaspoon of ground geera roasted cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- Turn your instant pot to sauté and when hot add the oil
- While your instant pot is warming up, blend the onions and 4 cloves of garlic with about 1/2 cup of water until puréed. You can also just add the whole onion and garlic to the pot, it will become soft enough while pressure cooking and melt away.
- When the instant pot is hot, add the sliced garlic and cook until it is almost burnt. It will be black or dark brown. This will take about 5 minutes
- Next, add the geera to the garlic and cook for a minute.
- Then add the puréed onions and garlic or the chopped onions and whole garlic if you prefer
- Sauté for about 1 minute then add the remaining water, all of the split peas, curry powder, ground turmeric, cayenne pepper or other pepper (if using) and salt to the instant pot and mix together well
- Once everything is mixed together push the cancel button to get the instant pot out of sauté mode, then seal and pressure cook on high for 20 minutes
- After the timer runs out on the pressure cooking, release the pressure/steam
- Finally, whisk for about a minute or two to allow the split peas to “mash up” creating a smooth dhal
- You can also use an immersion blender for this step
- Serve hot!
The information listed in the recipe card is an estimate provided by an online nutrition tool. The tool evaluates ingredient names and amounts then makes calculations based on the number of servings listed for the recipe. It is provided as a general guideline and not as a precise calculation. For precise nutrition information please feel free to add the ingredients to your preferred nutrition calculator or consult a doctor or licensed nutritionist.