How to Cook Dal Without a Pressure Cooker

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Cooking dal, a traditional Indian lentil dish, is a flavorful and nutritious option for any meal. While many people use a pressure cooker to cook dal quickly, not everyone can access one. Fear not, for there are alternative methods to achieve the same delicious results without a pressure cooker. In this article, we will be examining different methods for preparing dal with standard kitchen tools. Whether you prefer a stovetop, slow oven, or microwave method, we’ve got you covered!

How to Cook Dal Without a Pressure Cooker
Cook Dal Without a Pressure Cooker

Soaking the Dal: The First Step to Perfect Dal

Before you start cooking, it is essential to soak the dal. Soaking helps in two ways: Cooking time is reduced, and digestion of the dal is improved with this method. Depending on the type of dal, soak it for at least 1-2 hours before cooking.

Cooking Dal on the Stovetop

Preparing the Dal

  1. Rinse the dal thoroughly under running water to remove any impurities.
  2. Place the dal in a bowl and add enough water to cover it. Let it soak for the required time.
  3. Drain the soaked dal and rinse it again before cooking.

Cooking the Dal on the Stove

  1. In a large pot, add the soaked dal and enough water to cover it.
  2. First, place the water on the stove and heat it on medium until it reaches boiling point. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat to a gentle simmer.
  3. Let the dal simmer with the lid partially covered until it becomes tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Cooking the Dal on the Stove
Cooking the Dal on the Stove

Slow Cooker Method for Dal

Preparing the Dal for Slow Cooking

  1. Rinse the dal and soak it as mentioned in the stovetop method.
  2. Drain the soaked dal and rinse it again before transferring it to the slow cooker.

Slow Cooking the Dal

  1. Place the soaked dal in the slow cooker and add enough water to cover it.
  2. Set the slow cooker to low heat and let it cook for 4-5 hours or until the dal is soft and fully cooked.
Slow Cooking the Dal
Slow Cooking the Dal

Microwave Method: Quick and Easy Dal

Preparing the Dal for Microwave Cooking

  1. Rinse the dal and soak it, as mentioned earlier.
  2. Drain the soaked dal and rinse it again before transferring it to a microwave-safe bowl.

Microwave Cooking the Dal

  1. Add enough water to the bowl to cover the dal.
  2. Please protect the bowl with either a lid or wrap that is safe for use in the microwave.
  3. Microwave on high for 10-15 minutes or until the dal is thoroughly cooked.

Enhancing the Flavor of Dal

Tempering the Dal

Tempering, or “tadka” in Indian cuisine, is crucial in making delicious dal. To prepare:

  1. Heat either ghee or oil in a pan.
  2. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and any other spices of your preference. 
  3. Once they start spluttering, pour the tempered mixture over the cooked dal.

Adding Vegetables and Spices

Add vegetables like tomatoes, spinach, or bottled gourd while cooking to make your dal more nutritious and flavorful. Additionally, spices such as turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, and garam masala can elevate the taste of your dal.

Serving and Pairing Dal

Best Accompaniments for Dal

Dal accompanies various accompaniments like rice, chapati, naan, or paratha. You can also serve it with a side of yoghurt, pickle, or papad for a complete and satisfying meal.

Best Accompaniments for Dal
Best Accompaniments for Dal

Tips for Leftover Dal

If you have leftover dal, don’t fret! You can use it as a base for soups and stews or make a quick dal-based curry by adding your favourite vegetables.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Overcooking the Dal

Overcooking dal can lead to mushy and unappetizing results. Keep an eye on the cooking time to avoid this.

Undercooking the Dal

On the other hand, undercooked dal can be hard to digest and lacks the desired tenderness. Make sure to cook it until it’s entirely soft.

Health Benefits of Dal

Rich Source of Protein

Dal is an excellent plant-based protein source, making it a great option for vegetarians and vegans.

High in Fiber

The high fiber content in dal helps with digestion and promotes a healthy gut.

Good for Digestion

Dal is easy to digest, making it suitable for all age groups.


Cooking dal without a pressure cooker is possible and a fantastic way to enjoy this traditional dish with rich flavors. Whether you choose the stovetop, slow oven, or microwave method, each will yield a delicious result. Try out various vegetables and spices to craft your ideal dal. To fully enjoy the numerous health benefits of dal, it is essential to soak it properly before cooking. This will help avoid common mistakes and ensure the versatile legume is prepared correctly.


Can I use canned dal instead of cooking from scratch?

While the canned dal is convenient, it may lack freshly cooked dal’s authentic flavors and nutritional value.

Can I freeze cooked dal for later use?

You can freeze cooked dal in airtight containers for up to three months.

Is dal suitable for those with gluten intolerance?

Yes, dal is naturally gluten-free and safe for those with gluten intolerance.

Can I use red lentils (masoor dal) for all the methods mentioned?

Yes, red lentils are versatile and can be used for stovetop, slow cooker, and microwave cooking.

Can I cook dal without soaking it?

Soaking the dal is recommended as it reduces cooking time and aids digestion. However, if you’re in a hurry, you can cook it without drinking it, but it may take longer to become tender.

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