You will fall in love with this easy, vegan Instant Pot Lentil Curry since it takes less than an hour to make, is very high in fiber and a healthy meal everyone will enjoy!
Why you should make Instant Pot Lentil Curry
This rich, creamy lentil curry will satisfy your Indian craving in less time than in takes to order takeout. This vegan dish has a full-bodied flavor that can be enjoyed in a bowl or over rice.
The nice thing about this recipe is that it uses a pressure cooker or Instant Pot to make which is great for last minute meal planning. For those dishes that typically need hours to cook, the Instant Pot does it in less than an hour (usually).Take curry for example. The sauce needs hours to really develop the flavors while the veggies almost melt into the sauce. But the Instant Pot does it in under an hour, and most of that work is completely hands-off.
As much as I love having a meal plan and being prepared, it’s definitely not one of my strengths. And that, my friends, is why I am currently crushing over my Instant Pot. So much so that it hasn’t been put away yet.
What is Instant Pot Curry
This Instant Pot Lentil Curry recipe is basically lentils, onions & bell peppers, coconut milk, and a ton of spices. It’s creamy, rich, and oh so filling.
This recipe is based off one from The Pretty Bee that was cooked in the slow cooker, but I decided I’d try it in my Instant Pot because it was too late to start it in the slow cooker if I wanted it for dinner that night.
Why this recipe works
This vegan Instant Pot Lentil Curry works so well because you have a nice balance of spicy and intense flavors with sweetness from the coconut and small amount of sugar.
Don’t skimp on the sugar because it really does add depth to the recipe that you need. Same with the salt.
How to Make Lentil Curry in the Instant Pot
- Dice the veggies and toss them into your pressure cooker on the saute function. Let them cook while you measure out the spices.
- Add the spices and tomato paste. Measure and rinse your lentils.
- Toss in the lentils with the water, and use a spatula or spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pressure cooker.
- Pour in the coconut milk, and stir in the sugar.
- Stir, cover, and cook.
- Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes then release, and enjoy in a bowl with rice if desired. Feel free to sprinkle with cilantro, parsley or mint if desired.
Tips for Making Lentil Curry
The recipe is very simple, but here are a few in-depth details so you have no fears about how easy this is to make.
The best ingredients for the Instant Pot Lentil Curry recipe
Lentils: Use green lentils in this recipe since they hold up better than red when cooked for long periods of time.
Coconut Milk: I tested this recipe using both full fat and reduced fat coconut milk. Either work fine in the recipe. The only difference is that the full fat coconut milk will have a thicker consistency than the reduced fat coconut milk will.
Veggies: You can use fresh or frozen chopped veggies in this recipe. Also, if you don’t have fresh garlic, use garlic powder in its place. For the bell peppers, any color will work; I’ve tested it with red, yellow, and green.
Spices: Yes, there are a lot of spices in this recipe. But it’s because I do not have garam masala, so I used a lot of spices I had in my kitchen cabinet in its place.
Oil: Any oil will work in this recipe. I have tested it using avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil, and I honestly didn’t notice the difference between the oils. Basically, use whatever you have in your kitchen.
Make Ahead Tips
To make this even easier, you can chop the veggie ahead of time. You can also measure out the spices in a bowl for when you’re ready to toss them in the mixture.
Another perk of this recipe is that the leftovers taste great, so you can make a batch of this in advance to enjoy during the week for easy meals. You can also double the recipe and freeze it to have an easy and filling meal in the freezer for later.
If you do not have fresh garlic, use garlic powder in its place. The onions and bell peppers give it flavor, but if you don’t like one of those veggies, feel free to use more of the other. For example, use two extra bell peppers in place of the onions so this lentil curry is still filled with veggies.
For the spices, it will be ok if you do not have every single spice that is listed in amounts 1/8 teaspoon. You can omit those spices without a huge sacrifice in flavor.
Alternative prep & cooking methods:
This can easily be made in a slow cooker. To cook in a slow cooker, add all the ingredients into the slow cooker. Stir well, cover, and cook on LOW for 4-5 hours.
I’ve never tried cooking it on the stove, but I assume it can also be made on the stove if cooked over low for a few hours, stirring occasionally.
Keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days. You can also freeze this for up to 6 weeks. Because there is curry powder and turmeric, you might notice a yellow coloring to the storage container after using. I prefer using glass containers to prevent this (and they are more durable).
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use red lentils in lentil curry?
Technically, you can use red lentils in lentil curry. However, red lentils do not hold up well when cooked for longer times, so they will probably be pretty mushy. If that’s ok with you, then go ahead and use the red lentils.
Health Benefits of Lentils
Lentils are incredibly nourishing; they are an excellent plant-based source of protein with almost as much fiber as protein. In one cup cooked lentils, they are an excellent source of folate, copper, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, and thiamin (Vitamin B1). They are also rich in polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Additionally, lentils have been shown to have heart-heath benefits as well. One study showed that lentils can help increase HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol & triglycerides.
What to serve with this dish
This lentil curry is great served over rice, but honestly it doesn’t even need it. It’s super filling by itself; however, the rice does help sop up any extra sauce.
I keep going back to this recipe because it is so dang easy. Plus, I almost always have the ingredients for it in my kitchen since you can use fresh or frozen veggies. I also keep lentils and a can of coconut milk in the pantry at all times just in case the craving for this lentil curry strikes.
Don’t let the long ingredients list deter you from making this simple recipe that will fill you up and make your taste buds happy!
MORE LENTIL RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE:
- Salsa Lentil Soup: vegan, gluten free, dairy free
- Roasted Vegetable Lentil Salad: vegan, gluten free, dairy free
- Lentil Chili: vegan, gluten free, dairy free
- Lentils with Sausage and Kale: gluten free, dairy free
- Caprese Lentil Salad: vegetarian, gluten free
Instant Pot Lentil Curry
- 1 tablespoon oil avocado, olive, or coconut
- 2 large onions diced
- 2 medium bell peppers diced, any color
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups green lentils rinsed, about 10 ounces
- 15 ounce can coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- Pour the oil into the instant pot, and turn on the saute function.
- Add the onions and bell peppers. Stir well. Add garlic, and stir.
- Add in curry powder, cumin, salt, garlic powder, ginger, black pepper, coriander, allspice, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Stir well.
- Add in tomato paste, and stir to coat. Stir in lentils, coconut milk, water, and sugar.
- Cover, making sure to turn the valve to sealing, and turn to high pressure for 15 minutes.
- Let rest for 10 minutes then release the steam, and enjoy! Great served alone or over cooked rice.
What I used in this recipe:
This post was originally published April 23, 2018. Text, recipe, photos, and video have been updated.12