Inspired by red lentil dal, this somewhat non-traditional red lentil curry emphasizes convenience and ease, relying on pantry staples and the Instant Pot. Just 5 minutes of prep, then sit back and relax! Comforting and full of flavor, this Instant Pot curry is vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free.
With endless days at home plus a hot and humid summer, lately I'm often so tired by dinner time that even the thought of whipping up one of my go-to weeknight veggie sautés is too much. And that's exactly how this Instant Pot Red Lentil Curry was born.
I also had some pantry items to use up, like fire roasted tomatoes, red lentils, and soy curls.
But mainly, I just wanted to just throw some ingredients in the Instant Pot, press a button, and sit the heck down.
You know what I mean? I wanted zero fuss and zero standing at the stove.
To my surprise, that first experimental batch was AMAZING! It was so delicious I couldn't wait to make it again.
I've changed the recipe a bit each time, trimming down ingredients and choosing only the most essential ones to make this lentil curry as easy and accessible as possible.
I mentioned this is a non-traditional take on red lentil curry. So what liberties did I take? First, it has more tomatoes than it should because I needed to use up a 28 ounce can. But when that turned out to be delicious, I decided to stick with it.
Second, I added soy curls (I also tested TVP) because I had plenty on hand. I've tested the recipe multiple times alternating between TVP and soy curls, and both are great! So use whichever you prefer.
TVP adds a ground meat texture, while soy curls are larger pieces, though you can use your hands to break up the soy curls as you add them to the Instant Pot.
We really enjoy the additional protein source because it makes the curry even more filling and gives it a meaty and hearty bite. But if you don't have either one of those ingredients on hand, simply increase the red lentils to 1 ½ cups.
See the recipe card below for amounts and full instructions.
- red lentils - whole or split, either is fine
- canned diced tomatoes - fire-roasted or regular
- light or "lite" coconut milk - the type in a can, not the refrigerated variety
- TVP or soy curls, optional
- yellow onion
- ginger root
- curry powder
- ground cumin
- tamari or soy sauce
The Easiest Red Lentil Curry
The only ingredients you have to chop to prepare this curry are onion and garlic. How great is that?
If you have a microplane zester, use it to zest the fresh ginger. If not, go ahead and finely mince the ginger, as well.
Now, the fun part:
- Toss everything in the Instant Pot, give it a really good stir, and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
- Place a dish towel over the steam vent, and quick release the pressure.
And that's it. You're ready to eat!
How to Cook Red Lentils
One of the best things about this recipe, aside from the flavor, is that you don't have to worry about pre-soaking the lentils. Red lentils cook up quickly and easily, making them perfect for this easy Instant Pot red lentil curry.
Simply rinse the lentils before adding them to the pot, and you're good to go.
I actually prefer to eat this lentil curry on its own because it's just so good! Of course, it also pairs well with potatoes, quinoa, and rice.
And not that this curry is especially spicy, but a dollop of Instant Pot Cashew Yogurt adds a nice, cooling element.
Garnish with plenty of fresh cilantro, assuming you're a fan, and a fresh squeeze of lime juice.
- other veggies - if you have other veggies that need to be used, feel free to add them to the pot. Try chopped carrot, bell pepper, or mushrooms. For something green, stir in baby spinach immediately after cooking.
- spicy - if you're into spiciness, a dash of cayenne plus extra black pepper are also great.
- without TVP or soy curls - the absence of these dry ingredients means you can increase the red lentils to 1 ½ cups, if desired.
This red lentil curry reheats beautifully and is a great dish to add to weekly meal prep. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
The leftovers can also be frozen for longer storage.
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EASY Instant Pot Red Lentil Curry
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and zested or minced
- 1 (14 ounce) can light coconut milk
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, fire-roasted or regular
- 1 ¼ cups dry red lentils, rinsed - See Notes
- 2 cups soy curls or 1 cup TVP, optional (see Notes) - About 2 ½ ounces by weight.
- 1 heaping tablespoon mild curry powder
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon tamari (for GF) or soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- black pepper
- 2 ¼ cups water
- cooked rice or potatoes
- cilantro and lime
- Note: to avoid a burn warning on the Instant Pot it's important to measure accurately and stick closely to the recipe as written.
- Combine all ingredients in the Instant Pot (onion - water), and stir very well. If using soy curls/TVP, these go in dry; no need to soak first. Lock on the lid, set to sealing, and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
- Carefully quick release the pressure. Serve with rice or potatoes, a squeeze of lime juice, and fresh cilantro, if desired. Lentil curry is also great with a dollop of plain vegan yogurt.
StorageStore leftover lentil curry in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.