Instant Pot Panch Phoran Channa Dal with Pumpkin

This Bengali five-spice dish is a lively choice for any night of the week

Panch phoran consists of five different spices that deliver a distinctive punch of flavour—brown mustard seeds add a mild pungency; nigella seeds lend a delicious oniony flavour; fenugreek seeds give a touch of bitterness; cumin brings in warmth and earthiness; fennel imparts a licorice-like sweetness. This Bengali five-spice never fails to add excitement to a dish, and this channa dal preparation with pumpkin is no exception. Channa dal as a lentil has a wonderful hearty texture and can handle the bold flavours of panch phoran. When cooked in the Instant Pot, the panch phoran imparts its extraordinary flavour so impeccably well.

Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 10 minutes for instant pot natural pressure release
Cook time: 20 minute
Serves 4


  • 1 cup channa dal (Indian chickpeas,split and hulled), dried
  • 2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp. Panch Phoran
  • 1 cup cubed peeled pumpkin
  • 1 medium tomato, finely cubed
  • 1 1/4 tsp. sea salt, plus extra if necessary
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Indian chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic paste
  • 2 cups water, plus extra if necessary
  • Warming garam masala to garnish
  • Fresh cilantro, to garnish


  1. In a medium bowl, rinse the channa dal in a few changes of warm water. Cover with fresh warm water and set aside to soak.
  2. Meanwhile, turn the setting of an Instant Pot to “sauté more.” Heat the oil and sprinkle in the panch phoran. Fry the spices until the cumin seeds turn golden brown, the mustard seeds begin to pop, and the spices become fragrant.
  3. Lower the setting to “sauté less.” Add the pumpkin and tomatoes and sprinkle in the salt, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chili powder. Mix together, then stir in the garlic paste. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the spices become fragrant.
  4. Drain the dal and add it to the Instant Pot, gently folding to coat the dal with the spices. Add the 2 cups water.
  5. Take care to secure the lid correctly and be sure the pressure release valve is set to the sealing position. This is very important. The Instant Pot will register as “on.” Adjust the setting to “pressure cook low” and set the timer for 3 minutes.Once the pressure cooking is complete, the Instant Pot will begin the natural pressure release. Allow for 10 minutes of natural pressure release, then release the remaining pressure manually by carefully setting the pressure release valve to venting. Always wear an oven mitt or glove when venting and keep your hands and face away from the vent, as the steam is extremely hot and can burn! Handle the valve from the side, not from above or overhead. Open the lid only when it is safe to do so, checking that all the pressure has been released first.
  6. Stir the dal, then thin out with extra water and adjust the salt if required.
  7. Transfer the dal to a serving dish and garnish with garam masala and cilantro to taste.

Nutrition facts per serving Calories 166; protein 3.75 g; fat 4.75 g; carbs 15 g.

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Photography by Reena Newman

Excerpted from New Indian Basics: 100 Traditional and Modern Recipes from Arvinda’s Family Kitchen. Copyright© 2022Preena Chauhan. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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