Instant Pot Madras Lentils Recipe

August 14, 2018Van
Blog post

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 43 minutes

Serves: 6

Costco Samples have a magical way of influencing our eating habits. On a routine shopping trip my daughter tried a sample cup of Tasty Bites Madras Lentils—and proceeded to talk about them the entire trip. I reluctantly conceded and went back to purchase the package of pouches—thinking I’d be lucky to use just half of them. Within a week my kids had devoured these super nutritious and tasty lentil packages. If you’ve never tried this before, it’s based on a famous Indian dish called dal makhani, but the Tasty Bites version has been simplified for the western palate – it’s very much like your standard bean chili with a slight kick from the kashmiri chilli powder and added richness from the butter and cream.

As a diehard do-it-yourselfer , I began playing with ways of replicating this delicious dish to much success. In fact—most of the ingredients are quite basic and are probably in your pantry right now! The only two items I had to order was Whole Black Gram Lentils (purchase here) and Kashmiri Chilli Powder (purchase here). The black gram lentils are quite different from green, red or beluga lentils, they hold their shape well and stand up to the same cooking time as the red kidney beans, so these can’t be substituted. Kashmiri Chilli Powder is a bright red mild chilli powder, adds great flavor and color to this dish. My kids love having it with Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan or you can also serve it over basmati rice for a delicious high protein vegetarian meal.

Instant Pot Madras Lentils Recipe Instant Pot Madras Lentils Recipe

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Instant Pot Madras Lentils Recipe (Copycat of Tasty Bites Madras Lentils)

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 43 minutes
  • Serves: 6


  • 1 Cup Whole Black Gram Lentils / Urad Whole
  • ⅔ Cup Red Kidney Beans
  • 2 Tablespoons Sunflower Oil, or other neutral tasting oil
  • 4 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Kashmiri Chilli Powder, or substitute with 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 8 oz Tomato Sauce, or 2 Medium Tomatoes diced
  • ½ Medium Onion, diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 3½ Cups Water
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream


  • 1)

    Add 2 Tablespoons of Oil to the pot and choose the Sauté option on the Instant Pot and select the “high” setting. Once the display shows “hot” add 4 Teaspoons of Ground Cumin, 1 Teaspoon Kashmiri Chilli Powder, give it a quick stir then add the diced Onions and minced Garlic. Stir constantly for 1 Minute. Add the 8oz of Tomato Sauce and scrape the bottom to ensure nothing is stuck.  Press Cancel to turn off Sauté mode.

  • 2)

    Add 1 Cup of Whole Black Gram Lentils, ⅔ Cup of Red Kidney Beans, 2 Teaspoons of Kosher Salt and 3½ Cups Water, give it a quick stir then seal the Instant Pot lid and make sure the knob is set to Sealing. Choose High Pressure / Manual on the Instant Pot and set it for 43 minutes. Once the timer is up, wait 15 minutes while it does a natural pressure release, then switch the knob to Venting to release the rest of the steam. Once the pin drops, open the Instant Pot lid.

  • 3)

    Add 3 Tablespoons of Butter and 2 Tablespoons of Heavy Cream, stir well. Taste and season with more salt or Kashmiri Chilli Powder if needed. Serve with basmati rice or naan. Enjoy!

↓ Supplies to make this recipe ↓



  • Lindsey

    September 16, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    Do you soak the beans and lentils?

    1. Van

      September 16, 2018 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Lindsey, no you don’t have to soak the beans and lentils – that’s why I love making any beans in the IP, you don’t have to soak them ahead of time.

  • Eman

    July 7, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Thank you. This tastes exactly like the Tasty Bite you buy in stores. I let mine boil down a little to thicken it up. At first, I only did 1/2 teaspoon of the Kashmir pepper, but then added the other half. It is perrfect as you have it.
    Thanks again.

    1. Van

      July 7, 2019 at 10:30 am

      Hi Eman, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe! 😀

  • LeeAnn

    October 30, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Hi: The redbeans are dry when you are them? Or already cooked?

    1. Van

      October 30, 2019 at 1:26 pm

      Hi LeeAnn, the red beans are dry and unsoaked / uncooked.

    2. Tracie

      February 22, 2020 at 2:09 pm

      This recipe sounds delicious! Could you tell me how you would make this without an instapot, as I don’t have one! Thanks so much!

  • Rebecca

    January 17, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    Why did you change the recipe???? Real tomatoes was the best version! Even canned tomatoes was a better option.

    1. Van

      January 21, 2020 at 9:50 pm

      Hi Rebecca, I’ll add it back as an option. I switched to tomato sauce because it was closer to the bagged version.

      1. Rebecca

        April 8, 2020 at 2:03 pm

        Thank You so much! I now see that you updated the recipe! I love using the fresh tomatoes and quick soaking the kidney beans since using the fresh tomatoes don’t give you that “extra” liquid to fully cook the kidney beans vs if you use the tomato sauce or canned diced tomatoes! Thank You again for adding that back in as a option!

  • Tracie

    February 22, 2020 at 10:30 am

    Hi there! This sounds delicious! However I don’t have an instapot. Could you do this recipe without one?

    1. Van

      February 23, 2020 at 10:12 pm

      Hi Tracie! Soak the beans overnight, then follow the same instructions using a large pot on the stovetop. Simmer for 45 minutes or until the beans are cooked through. Hope you enjoy!

  • Tracie

    February 24, 2020 at 8:18 am

    Hi Van!
    Thank you! I’m so excited to try this

  • Christina

    May 7, 2020 at 8:48 am

    What can I use to substitute the heavy cream, so not using dairy? Thank you in advance for your time. I am excited to make homemade madras lentils

    1. Van

      June 1, 2020 at 11:48 am

      You can try using coconut cream.

  • kathy

    October 23, 2021 at 12:12 am

    wanting to make these- but the link where to purchase the Whole Black Gram Lentils doesnt work. Can you help with this and let me know what the brand is?

    1. Van

      October 23, 2021 at 7:28 pm

      Hello, you can purchase this one:

  • Marie

    November 14, 2021 at 4:01 am

    Hi, I want to make double this recipe. How many minutes should I cook for? Also, if the beans have been soaked how many minutes would you suggest cooking either this recipe for and/or a doubled recipe for? Thank you. My kids love tasty bite madras lentils!

    1. Van

      November 14, 2021 at 7:17 am

      Hello, if you double the recipe you’d still keep the same cooking time. Sorry I don’t know what the cooking time would be for soaked beans since I never soak beens when I cook them with the Instant Pot – since that’s an advantage of pressure cooking beans, there’s no need to soak them.

  • CD

    October 11, 2022 at 7:34 pm

    Thank you!! I love these too, and am doing a plant-based eating (no oil, either). I can’t wait to try this with vegetable stock and using full fat coconut cream in place of the dairy cream. Hubby loves Indian and this is one of our go-to easy meals. ❤️

  • C

    October 26, 2022 at 10:12 pm

    YUM!! I made a vegan version, sautéed with “Better Than Bouillon” instead of oil; put in 1 cup of my homemade bean soup (multi bean soup with onions & herbs) instead of 2/3 cup of red kidneys, didn’t have tomato sauce but dissolved appx 4 oz tomato paste into hot water.

    The difference in taste by adding vegan butter (I used Earth Balance spread) & instead of heavy cream used full-fat coconut cream… what an improvement in flavor!

    Thank you, Van for sharing! 5 Stars!!

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