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. 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 that really needed to be put to use, 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 a lot of those in the pantry, too. 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.
This is just an overview; be sure to scroll down for the full recipe.
- red lentils - whole or split, either is fine
- canned diced tomatoes - fire-roasted or regular
- lite coconut milk - the type in a can
- TVP or soy curls, optional
- yellow onion
- ginger root
- curry powder
- ground cumin
- tamari or soy sauce
- sea salt and black pepper
The Easiest Lentil Curry
The only chopping involved in preparing this curry is for the onion and garlic. If you have a microplane zester, use that to zest the fresh ginger. If not, go ahead and mince the ginger, as well.
Now, the fun part:
- Toss everything in the Instant Pot, give it a 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!
Serving Suggestions and Storage
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.
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 baby spinach into the pot after cooking.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime, and if you're into spiciness, a dash of cayenne plus extra black pepper is also great.
And not that this curry is especially spicy, but a dollop of Instant Pot Cashew Yogurt adds a nice, cooling element.
This red lentil curry reheats beautifully and is a great dish to add to weekly meal prep. It can also be frozen for longer storage.
I love hearing from you! If you try the recipe be sure to leave a comment and a star rating below to let us know how it turned out.
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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 red lentils - Whole or split, both are fine.
- 2 cups soy curls or 1 cup TVP, optional (see Notes) - About 2 ½ ounces by weight.
- 1 heaping tablespoon mild curry powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon tamari (for GF) or soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- black pepper
- 2 ¼ cups water
- Note: to avoid a burn warning from the Instant Pot it's important to measure accurately and stick closely to the recipe as written.
- Combine all ingredients in the Instant Pot and stir well (if using soy curls/TVP, these go in dry; no need to soak first). Lock on the lid, and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
- Carefully quick release the pressure. Stir, serve and enjoy!Lentil curry is great with potatoes, rice, or quinoa, plus your choice of cilantro, lime, avocado, and/or 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. For the most accurate nutrition information we recommend calculating it yourself to reflect the specific ingredients used in your dish.