Bean Soup with Indian Spices

Last updated on 19-Jul-2019

Winter in Canada makes me crave warm and comforting foods that fight the chill in the air. I love steaming bowls of creamy soups and stews this time of the year, and beans, peas and lentils are perfect ingredients for this kind of dish. When we go to Indian restaurants, I often have a vegetarian Punjabi bean curry soup/stew called Dal Makhani, and it always seems to taste a little different every time I have it, with some flavours being more subtle or more pronounced.

I have seen several recipes for this dish online, and overall, it is a dish that takes quite a long time to prepare, so I was inspired to try to come up with an easy recipe including some of the same elements. While not authentic, my version below takes only a fraction of the time to prepare using the Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker) and still tastes very yummy.

If you like Indian flavours and/or like to explore and tease your palate with interesting savoury spices, give this soup a try, and let me know what you think. 😉

Bean Soup with Indian Spices

5-6 servings


  • 2 cups dried split black matpe beans (also called urad or black lentils)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes with chillies (or substitute Mexican salsa, if easier to find)
  • 3 Tbsp ghee or butter (use olive oil for dairy-free/vegan soup)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp mild garam masala spices (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


  1. Pick and rinse the beans well. Drain and transfer to Instant Pot insert. Add water, bouillon, garlic and ginger. Close lid and steam release valve, set the cooking program to “Manual” and adjust the timer to 16 minutes on high pressure.
  2. When time is up, let the cooker go into “Keep Warm” mode and wait 10 minutes (natural release). Then press “Cancel” and turn the steam valve to “Venting” to release remaining pressure. Stir beans well to confirm if soft/cooked throughout and not sticking to the bottom.
  3. Press the “Sauté” button and adjust to low heat. Add tomatoes and stir to combine. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Meanwhile, heat ghee (or butter or oil) in a small saucepan. Add garam masala and cinnamon to “awake” spices, sautéing until fragrant (1-2 mins) but without burning them. Add spice mixture to cooked beans in the Instant Pot and mix well.
  5. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes for spices to infuse the beans, stirring often. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
  6. Add cilantro, stir and serve with hot store-bought parathas (I find them in the frozen section of the grocery store) or naan bread (available in the bread aisle). Enjoy!

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