This instant pot lentil curry is a super easy Indian-inspired curry dish. Best as a green or brown lentil curry, it’s a creamy coconut-infused main course or side dish when serving Indian cuisine. It’s also a vegetarian and vegan lentil curry.
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Instant Pot Curry With Lentils
We love cooking curry in our Instant Pot. Not only does it speed up the cooking, but the flavors of the seasoning and spices just infuse the entire dish.
We have the Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1. It has a six-quart capacity, which is more than enough to cook for two people or for a small group. There is also an 8-quart option for families. For this recipe, use both the saute function and the pressure cook function.
Don’t have an Instant Pot? Check out these stovetop recipes:
What Kind Of Lentils To Use In A Pressure Cooker Lentil Curry
Really any kind of lentils will work for this recipe. I prefer using green or brown lentils because they tend to hold their shape a little better when cooking. Other types of lentils can get a little more mushy and can lose their shape.
In particular, red lentils are smaller and cook quicker. Green lentils are the largest of the three.In between are brown lentils, which are just right. I sound like Goldilocks, right? If using green lentils for this recipe, increase the cooking time by 2 minutes.
Because green and brown lentils are a little more hearty, when they are done cooking they are not soft and mushy. There is a bit of firmness still left in them. That’s why I like cooking with them.
Check out our other recipes using green lentils:
How To Soak Lentils
Although it is not necessary to soak the lentils, it speeds up the cooking time. It also doesn’t take too long.
Place the lentils in a bowl at least twice the size as the amount of lentils. Fill the bowl with cool water until it is at least an inch higher than the lentils. Stir the lentils.
Let the lentils sit for 10-15 minutes. They will start to plump and soak in the water. There will be less water after about 10 minutes than at the beginning.
After 10-15 minutes, drain what water remains. Add more water to cover the lentils and then drain again. This rinses the lentils of any extra starchiness. It’s best to use a sieve (like this one) rather than a colander to drain because the lentils can escape through a colander that has larger holes.
How To Cook With Coconut Oil
It’s a little different cooking with coconut oil than olive oil or canola oil. For this recipe, feel free to use canola oil. The coconut oil, though, adds a nice layer of coconut flavoring to the lentils.
Coconut oil normally is solid, which means you need to scoop it to use it. Once it heats, it liquifies. Depending on the type of coconut oil, it might have a higher burn factor. This means it’s best to cook with coconut oil over lower temperatures when possible.
This is a little more difficult to control in an Instant Pot. Some electric pressure cookers allow you to saute on a lower heat. If that’s an option this is the perfect recipe to use that function.
When using coconut oil in an Instant Pot, it’s important to keep moving the ingredients that are cooking in the oil to prevent burning on the bottom of the pot.
For this recipe, as soon as the vegetables start to soften, add the vegetable broth to deglaze the bottom of the pot. This will prevent the coconut oil from sticking and burning to the bottom.
Check out our Instant Pot Dal Makhani, which also has coconut oil.
Ingredients For This Brown Lentil Curry Recipe In An Instant Pot
This Indian lentil curry recipe includes a lot of the classic ingredients used in Indian cooking. The use of both coconut oil and coconut milk adds a slight sweetness to the recipe. The coconut milk really ensures that this is a creamy lentil curry.
Looking for other vegetarian Instant Pot recipes? Check out our Instant Pot Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers With Black Beans or this Instant Pot Black Bean Curry.
Seasoning And Spices
The seasoning comes from freshly grated ginger, diced yellow onion, and pressed garlic. I like to use a garlic press too so that there aren’t big chunks of garlic in the curry. Try the Zulay stainless steel garlic press, which is easy to use. There’s no need to even peel the garlic ahead of time.
The spices for the curry lentils include garam masala, turmeric, and yellow curry. Although it’s possible to make your own garam masala at home, I tend to purchase it in bulk because we cook so much Indian cuisine.
You can buy garam masala on Amazon here. The turmeric and yellow curry add some depth to the spices but also add to the color of the lentil dish. None of these spices are spicy. Instead, they are packed with flavor, not heat.
Do you like cooking with turmeric? Check out our recipe for Golden Turmeric Hummus Recipe With Creamy Coconut.
You can use chicken broth if you have it at home, but I recommend vegetable broth to ensure this is a vegan instant pot curry recipe. The broth is the liquid that will cook the dry lentils.
At the end, to add a little acidity to the recipe, add a bit of tomato paste. I like to keep a tube of concentrated tomato paste at home to easily add a bit of tomato paste when needed without having to open a full can. You can buy concentrated tomato paste on Amazon here.
Add chopped fresh cilantro at the end for color and aroma.
How To Cook Brown Lentil Curry In An Instant Pot
When cooking in an Instant Pot, things move pretty quick. I like to prep all my ingredients and lay out all my seasonings and spices next to the Instant Pot to make it easier to cook.
Start by soaking the lentils for about 10-15 minutes in cool water while prepping the other ingredients. Follow the instructions from above. Drain the lentils.
Turn the Instant Pot on the saute function. When it starts to warm add the oil. Then add the garlic, ginger, and onion to the Instant Pot. Coat the seasonings in oil and cook until they start to sweat and soften.
Before the vegetables turn brown turn the Instant Pot off. Add one cup of the vegetable broth to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits of oil or seasoning that stuck to the bottom of the pot. This helps to avoid the electric pressure cooker from giving a burn error while cooking.
Add the garam masala, turmeric, and yellow curry while the Instant Pot is still warm. Coat the seasoning in the oil and broth to release the aromas and flavors.
Add the lentils and the tomato paste and stir. Add one more cup of vegetable broth to ensure the lentils are covered.
Place the lid on the Instant Pot, close it, and ensure the seal is set to pressurize. Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook for 12 minutes. Once the time is up, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release its pressure for about 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, press the vent button to finish releasing the pressure. Be sure to use a towel or oven mitt to press the button to release the pressure. Carefully remove the lid away from the face.
The Instant Pot should be on the Keep Warm function. Add the coconut milk and stir. Taste the curry and adjust any seasoning, either adding more garam masala or a little salt if needed.
Heat for 2-3 minutes or until warmed through. Turn the Instant Pot off and stir in chopped cilantro just before serving. Serve with steamed basmati rice, cilantro rice, or fresh naan.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or canola oil
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon yellow curry
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup dry brown or green lentils
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
- Soak the lentils for about 10-15 minutes in cool water while prepping the other ingredients. Drain the lentils. T
- Turn the Instant Pot on the saute function. When it starts to warm add the oil. Then add the garlic, ginger, and onion to the Instant Pot. Coat in oil and cook until they start to sweat and soften. Before the vegetables turn brown turn the Instant Pot off.
- Add one cup of the vegetable broth to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add the garam masala, turmeric, and yellow curry while the Instant Pot is still warm. Coat the seasoning in the oil and broth to release the aromas and flavors.
- Add the lentils and tomato paste and stir. Add one more cup of vegetable broth to ensure the lentils are covered.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot, close it, and ensure the seal is set to pressurize.
- Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook for 12 minutes. Once the time is up, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release its pressure for about 10 minutes.
- Press the vent button to finish releasing the pressure. Remove the lid. Add the coconut milk. Taste the curry and adjust any seasoning, either adding more garam masala or a little salt. Heat for 2-3 minutes or until the coconut milk is warm.
- Turn the Instant Pot off and stir in chopped cilantro just before serving. Serve with steamed basmati rice, cilantro rice, or fresh naan.
If you're not familiar with cooking lentils in an Instant Pot, please see the notes above. The additional time is for pressurizing the Instant Pot and releasing the pressure.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 308Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 362mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 7gSugar: 3gProtein: 7g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.