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Let’s talk dinner beauty. One-pot, WOW-flavor, inexpensive, how-can-something-this-easy-taste-this-good? meal gorgeousness. This simple, healthy Instant Pot Lentil Curry could be a dinner pageant queen! It’s creamy, not too spicy, and can be either a brown lentil curry or green lentil curry recipe, depending upon which lentils you use.

Easy, creamy, vegan Instant Pot Lentil Curry in a bowl with brown rice

Since this time of year is especially busy (and I expect a few of you might have an Instant Pot on your wish list!), I wanted to take a moment to share this lentil curry coconut recipe. It takes mere minutes to prep, the entire thing cooks in one pot, and it yields a generous batch that reheats beautifully.

Like my Tofu Curry, this creamy lentil curry also manages the tricky feat of being both stick-to-your-ribs warm and comforting (what my body wants) AND feel-great nutritious (what my body needs).

Now, I’m not going to pretend that if every recipe to come out of my kitchen could strut the red carpet, Instant Pot Lentil Curry would be the one to land the cover of Vogue. I’m talking meal inner beauty here.

Lentil Curry is humble. Her appearance is understated. She does not demand attention.

Take one bite, however, and you’ll see immediately why this dinner earned a coveted stop on the regular dinner rotation around here.

Indian Lentil Curry made in the instant pot with coconut milk in a bowl

Why I Love This Instant Pot Lentil Curry

Don’t be fooled by Instant Pot Lentil Curry’s modest appearance. Every bite is rich and lively, courtesy of fresh ingredients such as ginger and garlic and captivating Indian spices such as turmeric and curry powder.

In addition to its flavor, what I love most about this lentil curry is its indulgent, creamy texture.

This perceived richness is due in part to the addition of coconut milk but even more so to the way the lentils are cooked.

I used light coconut milk and was worried the curry wouldn’t be creamy enough. I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised! The texture was PERFECT.

If coconut milk isn’t an ingredient you regularly keep in your pantry, consider picking up a few cans, which are sold in the Asian or international food aisle of most grocery stores. You can use one for today’s Instant Pot Lentil Curry, then the others to make other quick, healthy dinners like this fabulous Coconut Curry and this Chickpea Curry.

Those looking for a vegan lentil curry without coconut milk could swap it for a nut milk, such as cashew milk or almond milk, though coconut milk is my overall recommendation. It’s worth it here.

easy, healthy, vegan lentil curry recipe that cooks in ONE POT with Indian spices

How to Make the Best Lentil Curry

This Lentil Curry was the very first recipe I tried in my Instant Pot. Cooking lentils in an Instant Pot isn’t a huge time saver because lentils are fairly quick cooking already, BUT using the Instant Pot did make an incredible difference in three important ways when compared to other curry recipes.

  • One, TEXTURE. Cooking lentils in the Instant Pot makes them marvelously creamy while maintaining just enough texture so that they do not taste mushy.

If you’ve ever cooked lentils (and you definitely should—they are one of the most delicious, healthy, and inexpensive ingredients you can buy), you know this can be a tricky balance to strike. Cooking the lentils in the Instant Pot resulted in textbook creamy lentils, and I never even needed to stir the pot.

  • Two, ONE POT. Most lentil curry recipes require two pots, one for cooking the lentils and one for simmering the coconut curry sauce.

With this recipe, everything happens right in the pressure cooker, so you only have one dish to wash at the end.

  • Three, HANDS FREE. As soon as the aromatics were sautéed, all I needed to do was stir in the lentils and coconut milk, seal the Instant Pot, and walk away. After 15 minutes of cooking time, our creamy Lentil Curry was ready to serve.

The finishing touch to this recipe is a squeeze of fresh lemon juice after the lentils have cooked. Don’t skip it! Its brightness is needed to balance the coconut curry flavors.

If you don’t yet have an Instant Pot, I do think this recipe could be adapted to the stove. I’ve included my best thoughts in the recipe notes below.

If you do have an Instant Pot, don’t miss these 15 Healthy Instant Pot recipes!

Instant Pot Lentil Curry Dal with coconut milk in a bowl

As far as different types of lentils, if you are using an Instant Pot, I’d recommend sticking with green or brown lentils. (I’ve done the recipe both ways and each was delicious.)

Red and yellow lentils are more delicate and didn’t hold up as well in the Instant Pot, so I wasn’t *as* smitten with their final texture. That said, if red or yellow lentils are all you have on hand (and you don’t mind a slightly mushier lentil curry), feel free to use them.

If you are cooking lentil curry on the stove, the color of the lentils is less important. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

More Easy Indian Recipes and Lentil Recipes

For Lentil Curry in the Slow Cooker

Recommended Tools to Make This Curry

  • Instant Pot (other pressure/multicooker brands with a similar sauté and pressure cooking function should work too)

Instant Pot Lentil Curry

4.88 from 219 votes
Easy Instant Pot Lentil Curry with Indian flavors, not too spicy, healthy and vegan! One pot recipe with brown lentils or green lentils.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 45 minutes

Servings: 3 cups, approx. (4 to 6 servings)

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups lentils green or brown
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water divided
  • 1 small shallot finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic about 6 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper use more for more spice or omit if sensitive to spice
  • 1 can light coconut milk about 14 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice about 1/2 large lemon
  • Cooked brown rice for serving
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for serving

Instructions
 

  • Rinse and drain the lentils, then set aside. Set the Instant Pot to sauté and add the coconut oil. Once the oil has melted, add 1 tablespoon water, the shallot, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until very fragrant and the shallot is soft, about 2 minutes. Add the curry powder, coconut sugar, salt, turmeric, and cayenne and stir vigorously. Stand back and try not to breath in any of the steam coming from the pot (it’s spicy!). Add the lentils, coconut milk, and 1 cup of water. Stir to coat the lentils completely with the liquid.
  • Hit cancel to stop the sauté function, seal the lid, then set to cook on HIGH pressure for 15 minutes. (It will take about 8 minutes for the pressure to build, then the timer will begin.) Once the timer has stopped, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then vent to release the pressure completely. Open the lid and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. If the curry is too thick, add a bit more water to loosen as needed. Serve hot with rice, sprinkled with cilantro.

Video

Notes

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days or freeze for 2 to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator. The lentils thicken as they cool, so to reheat, sprinkle with a little water, vegetable or chicken stock, or coconut milk, then rewarm gently in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding more liquid as needed.
  • I do not recommend using red or yellow lentils in the Instant Pot, as their texture is more delicate and they tend to fall apart.
  • To make on the stove: Cook the lentils (you can use any kind of lentils you like). In a separate large, rimmed skillet, sauté the shallot, ginger, garlic, and spices as directed over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, then add the coconut milk and coconut sugar. Let simmer gently for 4 to 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in the lemon juice and cooked lentils.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup cooked lentils with 1/2 cup cooked brown riceCalories: 315kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 7gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gFiber: 6gSugar: 8g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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476 Comments

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  1. Thank you Erin!!! This was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!! My two fussy boys (4&9) devoured it!
    Added carrots and cooked on HP for 1min less than instructed. Also added garam masala to the spices, full cream coconut milk and lots more water.
    Definately a keeper!5 stars

    1. It was my first time making this so I followed the recipe exactly. It was SOOO good. I rarely leave reviews but this was too good not to😍 I will definitely be making this on a regular basis. Thank you!!5 stars

  2. This was remarkably good! The more we ate it the more and more we liked it. I served it with avocado slices on top. Don’t forget the lemon and cilantro when you make it. SO SO GOOD! This will become part of our regular rotation. Great dish Erin.5 stars

  3. I made the recipe exactly as described. I served it with some pineapple tidbits on the side (I like the flavor contrast with the curry) and some roasted carrots. Delicious!5 stars

  4. Favorite vegan recipe. So good! I add spinach after pressure cooking for even more nutrition. And I use veggie broth and add more water to make it saucier.5 stars

  5. I Have an 8quart I.P.
    Is this recipe ok to the increase 4x according to how the conversion tool instructs?

    1. Hi Margaret! When increasing any recipe for the instant pot, you just want to make sure it doesn’t go over the fill line. If you are trying to increase 4x you’ll have to do some calculating on your own since the one in the recipe card only goes up to 3x. Enjoy!

  6. This dish was great! My husband love it. I also added carrots, spinach at the end and definitely I will be making it again.
    Thank you
    🌹5 stars

  7. Just made this, WOW! Such an easy and delicious meal. Added it to my list of regular: fast and delicious meals!5 stars

  8. I’ll bet I’ve made this recipe 50 times. It is SO good! I add carrots, mushrooms, kale, and/or squash to get more vegetables. It always turns out great. My family and friends love this recipe, too!5 stars

  9. This is a keeper. I subbed half an onion for the shallot and used full fat coconut milk. Really good on brown rice. Made an excellent lunch the next couple of days as well. Going into the rotation for vegetarian meals.5 stars

  10. This has become a firm favourite in our household.
    I add cubes of pumpkin. From the cooking time, they become super soft, so when you stir the curry, they break up and almost become the sauce. I love the sweetness and added creaminess that it brings to the dish.

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe ❤️5 stars

  11. I’ve made this so many times I’ve lost count. My family loves it- even my picky toddler. I reduce the natural release time by about 3 minutes (I found that lentils come out less mushy). Don’t skip on the cilantro and lemon. Thanks!5 stars

  12. It was delicious. I am on a special diet for Acid Reflux and have loads of allergies but it was so simple to swap the spices around. Garam Masala instead of spicy curry flavours, almond milk and Sumac instead of lemon (tases like lemon as I am allergic to citron). Worked like a dream. I live in France so buy locally grown lentils and rice. Great recipe for me. Thanks a lot.5 stars

  13. Made this last night and followed the spice measurements exactly. It was really bland. I strongly recommend to increase the quantity of spices or include garam masala to improve the taste. Another reviewer recommended garam masala as well – thank you! It was much tastier afterwards. We would make this again though! We also added sweet potato, cauliflower, peas and spinach.3 stars

    1. I’m sorry to hear the recipe wasn’t to your taste, georgeglass. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not enjoy it. I (and many other readers) have enjoyed it, so I really wish they would’ve been a hit for you too!

  14. This was AMAZING! I followed the recipe exactly and it was so so tasty. I have NEVER left a review before, but I just had to for this recipe.5 stars

  15. Five stars! My husband and I loved it. Great flavors. Cooked it twice in one week. Super easy to follow, especially for someone new to the instant pot world. Thank you!5 stars

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