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.
You might also like:
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
- 1 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 avoid major adjustments to the the wet/dry ratio.
- 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 flip the toggle to manually 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.
Delicious!!! Super easy and lots of delicious flavors. We loved it!
This is so simple and delicious, I doubled the recipe for my large family and it worked perfectly. It also makes the house smell divine 😊🌱
Delicious and easy! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It hit the spot and I will definitely make it again.
Incredible recipe! First recipe that I tried in my ninja foodi after a failed attempt at cooking rice on my own and I was shocked this only took 5 minutes and came out ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. I did not have soy curls or curry powder but I replaced the spices with others that would make up curry powder, i.e cumin, ground ginger. etc. I will make it again and add more chillies to it to make it spicier. I was skeptical not gonna lie, but damn! Soooo gooood!
This was delicious! I have had these lentils and I did not know what to do-- I had all the rest in my pantry and thought -- hmm I have all the stuff--even the ginger though it was a bit old-- not my favorite so it was okay there was only a little! I have the instant pot-- it was super simple and refrigerated well. I will be eating on this for a few days and very happy to-- with potatoes and rice and by itself!
I am eating this while I am writing !!!! What a great recipe, very versatile. I only used 1 cup red lentil I was afraid it would be too thick. I added 1 chopped carrot and brocoli. I sautéed the veggies on the stove, I added all the rest on the ingredients and cooked it for 20 minutes. I ended up adding 1/3 cup of broth and more cumin all together - 1 tsp instead of 1/2. You can add some bouillon cube just a tiny bit instead of salt for added flavor. Thank you great dish.
I forgot I was so hungry for mashed potatoes , I whipped some and served over or on the side whatever you like it was divine with mashed potatoes .
This recipe looks so good! I don't have an Instant Pot. How long would I need to cook this in a regular pot on the stove? Thanks!
Thanks, Deborah! For stovetop preparation I would start by sautéing the onion, then add the garlic, ginger, and spices. Add the liquids, lentils, and soy curls, and bring to a boil. Simmer it for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
Soy curls have been on back order at Amazon for over one month, so I got Soy Jocks which worked fine. The dish was great. Added some frozen peas to the leftovers and when there were still some left over, used them in stuffed peppers.
P.S. I live in Asheville, too. Lucky to have so many vegan options.
Bob in Tennessee
This recipe has become one of my favorites! I added a whole head of cauliflower florets as mentioned in another comment and it was even more delicious. I love the way this dish is so flexible - next time, I plan to add a bunch of beans and will adjust and add seasonings to my taste. Thank you for this great template! Next, I plan to try your "Instant Pot Millet With Vegetables". Sounds delicious!
I added cut one whole Cauliflower and sweet Potatoes cubed. It was delicious!! Thanks!
Creamy deliciousness. Thanks for a wonderful recipe Lori!
You're very welcome, Sue. I'm so happy you enjoyed the curry!
This was easy, delicious, and husband approved! I didn't have any soy curls, but had extra eggplant. So, I chopped up some roasted eggplant and added them to the instant pot with the other ingredients and it turned out wonderful! Thank you and I can't wait to try your other recipes!
Oooh eggplant sounds like a lovely addition. I'm so glad you (and hubby!) enjoyed the curry. Thanks, Lynn!
I am honestly not one to leave reviews but this was over the top delicious!! I added a pinch of cumin and coriander to the mix. I also used a curry paste instead of powder and omitted the soy curls. Nevertheless, it was oh so yummy!!!!
This is so delicious! Thank you for the easy recipe! I added a tablespoon of agave for some sweetness as well as a chili pepper because we like things really spicy. So good!
I loved this recipe and my lentils ended up delicious. I had to cook them longer with the slow cooker option of my instaPot for them to get to the desired tenderness. The pressure cooker option caused them to cook too fast and began to burn. I added some variations to my desired taste (added almond butter and garlic. It's going to be great with some Naan bread!
This recipe was incredibly easy and super tasty served with basmati rice. We increased the spice significantly and doubled the amount of soy sauce. We also used full fat coconut milk because that’s what we had on hand, and added a handful of frozen peas at the very end before serving—the results were delicious. We’ll obviously be making this again...next time we might try adding ingredients such as chickpeas, potatoes, or spinach. A very versatile recipe!
This recipe is just perfect. No need for any tweak. The spices are just enough. It was a hit with my family. We loved the combination with avocado and lime. Thank you!
So flavourful without being spicy! Thanks so much for sharing!
We loved this! So simple yet packed with flavor. Had to sub 1/2 mung beans because I ran out of red lentils. Also used 2t Garam masala because I ran out of curry powder. Thanks for this, and all of your wonderful recipes.
That sounds great, Sue! Love the garam masala addition. Thank you for the lovely feedback.
Made this today was good
Left out soy curls did not see until too late to add the extra quarter cup of red lentils and still came out fine. I stirred in a box of spinach at the end I also did increase some of the spices And a Tbs of almond butter
I’ll definitely make again thanks
Ate over brown rice
So glad you enjoyed it, Mandy. Thanks for the feedback! 😀