How to Make Instant Pot Mixed Daal (Lentils)

I'm not a phenomenal cook. I honestly never really cooked much until I got married. I would bake cupcakes, cookies, pumpkin bread, and a variety of other desserts, but rarely tried cooking anything other than pastas and small appetizers. Even once we were married, I was in school or at work most of the time, so I would just throw something simple together and we'd be fine. Now that I have more time at home, I've been trying my hand at new recipes and just generally getting comfortable with experimenting in the kitchen. While doing so, I started using tools that allow me to cook more efficiently.

Mixed daal with basmati rice

Instant Pots are the new craze these days. I never understood the hype until my sister gifted me one and it made cooking so much easier. My sister started cooking Pakistani food in her Instant Pot, so I decided to give it a try. The result was amazing! I can be pretty impatient when cooking, so when the daal (lentils) and nihari were done in less than half the time it takes in a regular pot, I was sold. The Instant Pot is so easy to use and it's a pressure cooker, slow cooker, and rice cooker all in one. It saves time and also space. As someone who lives in a small apartment, I enjoy owning the least amount of pots and pans possible.

Instant Pot Mixed Daal Recipe
Instant Pot Mixed Daal Recipe

Most of my recipes for Pakistani food come from my mom. I thought I’d start sharing some of my favorite quick recipes here on the blog to help any other busy moms make delicious Pakistani food in a short amount of time. Please note that I’m not a pro at cooking at all and there are many ways to make the food I'll be sharing. I usually opt for the simpler and quicker methods, so if you like adding more ingredients, feel free to change it up. I’m still learning and have my mom on FaceTime when I cook sometimes (God bless her for being so patient with me), but I hope this helps you get started with cooking delicious food with an Instant Pot if you're a beginner like me!

Scroll down for the mixed daal recipe.

Instant Pot Mixed Daal Recipe

Instant Pot Mixed Daal (Lentils) Recipe

1 cup mixed daal
¼ onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (whole)
½ teaspoon haldi (turmeric powder)
1 teaspoon laal mirch (cayenne powder)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 tomato (chopped)
1 green chili (chopped)

For the Bagaar (Tempering):
⅓ cup oil
¼ small onion cut in slices
¼ teaspoon zeera (cumin)

Rinse 1 cup of mixed daal. Let it soak in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Put the daal, onion, garlic, haldi (turmeric powder), laal mirch (cayenne powder), salt, tomato, and green chili in the Instant Pot along with 3 cups of water. Cover the Instant Pot. Press the Pressure Cook setting and set it to 6 minutes. Make sure to set the vent to the sealed position. Once the daal is done cooking, let it sit to naturally release the pressure or turn the vent to the release position to release the pressure immediately. Stir the daal. If you like your daal to be more soupy and softer, add a bit more water and cook for 3 more minutes. If you are fine with the texture, let the daal sit as is.

For the bagaar (tempering), heat up a small fry pan on the stove. Add ⅓ cup oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion slices, zeera (cumin), and kari patha. Once the onions have a golden color, pour the bagaar in the daal. Cover and let sit for 3 minutes.

Stir and serve with basmati rice.


These Birds Walk

Afroz and I finally saw "These Birds Walk" on Friday. I was anticipating this film for a long time ever since I saw information about it on Facebook and I was excited to see two new filmmakers capturing a subject I was pretty interested in: the work of Abdul Sattar Edhi.

We went to Facets Theater, which is a small theater located on Ashland and Fullerton. The movie was about Abdul Sattar Edhi and his efforts for the poor and needy in Pakistan. The film begins with Abdul Sattar Edhi saying that he is an average person and that if one wants to find him, then they can do so "among the people." Though the movie was about his foundation, he was sparsely seen throughout the film, only showing up when his wisdom and guidance is needed. The filmmakers follow the children of the homeless shelter and ambulance driver that works at the facility. Many of the children have simply run away from home and have been picked up by the police and end up at the shelter. Some want to go home, while some are looking for time to heal the wounds left by their families. The kids are safe at this facility. They get food and a place to stay, play and pray. It's better for them to be in this facility than out on the streets where someone could harm them. The film follows the children as they heal and build up the courage to return to their families. The ambulance driver takes them when they are ready and they find their way back as if they had found a way out of the dark place they had been. Some families welcome their kids back with love and tears while some say "it would have been better if you brought back his corpse." It was tragic to learn about these stories, but it really puts our lives back into perspective.

What I really loved about this film was the way it was created. Nothing was rehearsed or censored. I felt like the filmmakers were being honest to their viewers by showing us raw material. After doing some research, I found out that this style is known as "cinéma vérité."

Afroz and I came away with two feelings:

1. We should live simpler lives and help those around us.
2. We should make sure to take advantage of what has been given to us and not squander it.

After the movie, we went to Filippo's, a small, seemingly authentic Italian place near by. The service was great and the food was delicious. We had lentil soup and ravioli, as we discussed the film and how it would impact our everyday lives.

Check out the trailer for These Birds Walk:

* Thanks to Afroz for helping me put the film review together!