Here’s a simple, everyday Pakistani Chana Dal (split chickpea) recipe made quick and easy in the Instant Pot. This is a no-soak (unless you want to!), dump-and-go recipe with a simple tadka (tempering) of cumin seeds, onions, garlic, and chili pepper. Creamy and flavorful with only 15 minutes of hands-on time!

Chana Dal in plates garnished with ginger, onions, and tomatoes with a side of basmati rice

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“I cannot rave about this recipe enough. I must have made it at least 20 times since it was posted last summer. My entire family loves it and, best of all, it takes no time to whip up! Thank you so much Izzah for this DELICIOUS recipe!!”


A spotlight search on my Mac for the words ‘chana dal’ yields 7 different recipe results. It’s one of those dals I’ve tried many different versions of, whether for variety or just to get closer to “the best”.

This recipe for Instant Pot Chana Dal is one I’ve fretted and fussed over quite a bit. I wanted a recipe that takes almost no effort to make except for a simple tadka and garnishing, yet still has depth in flavor. This is a forgiving recipe so feel free to adapt it to taste and ingredients!

What is Chana Dal?

Chana dal/daal, also called split Desi chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or split yellow gram, is a type of lentil/dal that’s very popular in Pakistani and Indian cuisine.

Though ‘chana‘ directly translates to ‘chickpea‘, these chickpeas are a different variety than the ones we’re used to in America (Ex: Chana Masala or Chana Pulao). Instead of a thin layer of skin, yellow split Desi chickpeas have a dark outer skin, which is removed (husked) and then split in half. In their whole form, they’re ‘Kala Chana’.

In Pakistani cuisine, there are two common ways to make chana dal: The first is the drier, dhaba (roadside) style chana dal which you eat with roti or naan. The second is a soupier, everyday chana dal served with either roti or rice. This recipe is a cross between both.

Do you have to soak Chana Dal?

Pre-soaking helps beans and lentils become easier to cook and digest, so it’s a good idea to soak it if you’re concerned about that. Otherwise, you don’t have to soak chana dal. I’m terrible at soaking, and have developed this recipe to require no soaking so you can grab it and start prepping.

Raw Chana Dal, tomato, onion, green chili peppers, julienned ginger for chana dal recipe

How to make Chana Dal in the Instant Pot

Traditionally, chana dal is cooked in a pot or pressure cooker, and then finished off with a tadka (tempering). I tried making this a one-pot Instant Pot recipe but I found I preferred it with the tadka at the end.

Note: If you’re new to the Instant Pot or just want to learn how to use it for Indian & Pakistani cooking, please check out my guide on How To Use The Instant Pot For Indian And Pakistani Cooking.

To make this chana dal in the Instant Pot, you simply:

  1. Dump the rinsed dal, water, tomato, and spices in the Instant Pot and Pressure Cook.
  2. Once it’s cooked, prepare the tadka. While the onions are browning, turn the Instant Pot to Low Sauté mode.
  3. Once the tadka is finished, pour it over the chana dal.
  4. Simmer them both together to enhance creaminess and texture.
  5. Garnish and serve!

Adding Ginger to Dal

Ginger is often added to foods that are harder to digest to help aid in digestion. If you prefer not to garnish with julienned ginger, you can add crushed ginger along with garlic to the tadka, or omit it altogether.

Holding a plate of chana dal with a spoon in it

Tips for making Pakistani Chana Dal in the Instant Pot

  • Turn on your Instant Pot to Low Sauté while you’re preparing the tadka. That way, it can heat up and start reducing down before you add the tadka. If you add the tadka while the dal isn’t simmering, you’ll just have to cook it together longer (plus miss out on the sizzle).
  • If your dal has been sitting around in the pantry for a long time, it may take longer to cook. If you soak it, reduce the cook time depending on how long you soak it. I’d suggest cooking for at least 18 minutes regardless.
  • Dals are often combined in Pakistani cuisine. Sometimes I add ¼ cup masoor dal to ½ cup chana dal.
  • Depending on the type of chana dal you have, you may not need to pressure cook for the full 22 minutes in this recipe. If your dal needs less time, try decreasing the cooking time to 15 or even 10 minutes. If it’s a particularly tough dal, you may need to cover and pressure cook again for 3 minutes.
Taking a bite of Chana Dal from a plate with rice

How to make this Pakistani Chana Dal on the stovetop

I haven’t prepared this particular recipe on the stovetop, but I’ve cooked chana dal over the stovetop many times. Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Toss all the Instant Pot ingredients in a medium-size saucepan. Add 4 cups water and let it come to a boil over high heat. Discard any foam that rises to the surface.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Allow the dal to cook until tender (~1 hour if not soaked, 35 min if soaked), adding water if necessary. Then proceed with the tadka.

Chana Dal Serving Suggestions

Since this chana dal is creamy, and not too wet or dry, you can serve it with both rice or any type of bread such as roti or naan. Kachumber Salad or fresh, crunchy vegetables such as sliced onions, carrots, or cucumbers are ideal alongside dal to add crunch and texture. I also love serving this dal with achaar.

More Dal Recipes

Love your Instant Pot? Me too! Be sure to check out my 15+ Easy Pakistani Instant Pot Recipes roundup!

Holding a plate of chana dal with a spoon in it
5 (26 ratings)

Instant Pot Pakistani Chana Dal

This is an easy Pakistani Chana Dal made in the Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker). Chana Dal (or Split Chickpeas) are cooked with spices and given a simple tadka for an easy dinner. Naturally gluten-free and Vegan optional.


To Pressure Cook

  • 3/4 cup (160-165 g) chana dal , sub yellow split chickpeas – rinsed several times and then drained (See Note 1)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (~75-85 g) small to medium tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder, or more to taste
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper

For the Tadka (Tempering)

  • 2 tbsp ghee, or sub butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small (~100 g) yellow onion (or ½ medium onion), thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 small green chili pepper (or sub 4-5 whole red chili pepper), chopped


  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 inch ginger, julienned
  • 2 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped



To Pressure Cook

  • Add all the ingredients listed under ‘To Pressure Cook’ to the Instant Pot and mix to combine.
  • Secure the lid and set valve to Sealing. Select the Manual/Pressure Cook setting and set time to 22 minutes (See Note 2) on High Pressure.
  • Once dal is cooked, allow pressure to release for 5 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure.


  • In a medium sauté pan, heat oil and ghee over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for a few seconds. Add the onions and sauté until they turn golden (~5-6 minutes).
  • Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and set to Less to heat the dal.
  • Add the garlic to the tarka and sauté until the raw smell disappears, about a minute. Add the green chili pepper and sauté for another minute. The onions will have deepened more in color.
  • Transfer the tadka to the dal in the Instant pot. Continue to simmer on low Sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until you reach the desired consistency. Use a wooden spoon to mash dal against the edges to enhance texture.
  • Cancel Sauté. Taste & add salt, if needed. Add the garam masala and lemon juice and give it a stir. Top with the cilantro and ginger. Serve alongside achaar and kachumber salad.


Note 1: If you pre-soak the dal, pressure cook for 18-20 minutes depending on how long you soaked it.
Note 2: Timing varies depending on the type/age of chana dal. If your dal is new, you may need to decrease pressure cook time by 8-10 minutes. If, after 22 minutes, the chana dal is still tough, cover and pressure cook again for 3-4 minutes.
Calories: 238kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 19mg, Sodium: 705mg, Potassium: 131mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 320IU, Vitamin C: 8mg, Calcium: 82mg, Iron: 2mg