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Instant pot lentil curry is an easy and quick lentil made with curry flavor. This is quick, easy, hearty, and delicious lentils. It’s one of the Best and is my favorite red lentil curry made in the Instant pot.
This is a perfect weeknight dinner. It has strong and delicious flavors. The lentil curry is super creamy yet has only plant-based ingredients. This red lentil curry is vegan.
I make this curried many a times. And mostly I used to make it on the stovetop. But making the red lentil curry in the instant pot makes it easy and convenient also. If you love Indian flavors, I’m sure this is going to be another divine treat for you. Even if you have never tried it, you must try it. I’m sure you will like it.
There is a variety of lentils we make and also there are different ways to make the lentils. Here is my collection of Indian lentils or popular as dahl.
Why you will love this red lentil curry?
If you are wondering what is so good about this dish, trust me you will too love this. It is going to be a super easy and delicious meal for you. Few of them that made this my favorite lentil are –
- it’s easy to make
- no fancy ingredients required to make this lentil curry
- versatile to substitute the spices in case of unavailability
- this takes less than 30 minutes to make it from scratch
- delicious and loaded with flavors
- it’s healthy and a protein-rich food
Ingredients you will need
Lentils – This is a red lentil recipe and these lentils are whole lentils that are not husked. So they have skin that makes it brown or brownish-green in color. These are known as brown lentils or green lentils in some places.
Flavors – the curried lentils have a strong flavor of onion, garlic in it. You can also add the same amount of ginger and garlic crushed to the dal. It brings out a divine taste in the lentils. Here I have not taken only ginger but ginger adds more flavor to the dhal.
Spices – these are basic spices that are used in every Indian kitchen. Lentils being the staple, these spices helps to enhance the taste of boring lentils. The ground spices are coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, black pepper.
Turmeric powder goes well for lentils in this cuisine. And we all know how healthy this magical spice is with its medicinal properties like anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, and a lot more. For more curry flavor, I have added a few whole spices to the curry.
Bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves. These whole spices double the flavor of the lentils by releasing their aroma while cooking. But no worries if you don’t have them readily available in your pantry. You can substitute them with your best curry powder in that case.
Tomatoes – I love fresh chopped tomatoes. Can also take crushed canned tomatoes for the lentil curry.
Coconut milk – This is optional to make the curry creamier. However, the lentils themselves turn creamier once cooked. For extra rich, creamy, and smoothness, coconut milk is a great option. Coconut milk also helps to balance the strong flavor of the spices.
Lemon Juice & Cilantro leaves- Adds flavor to the end product.
How to make Instant pot lentil curry?
Start the instant pot on SAUTE mode for 10 minutes. once it’s HOT, add oil to it. Next, add whole spices like bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves. Saute for 15 – 20 seconds allowing them to release essential oil and add flavor.
Now add chopped onions, garlic, ginger. Saute for a minute and then add diced or canned tomatoes. Cook till tomatoes turn soft and mushy.
Then add all the ground spices and salt. Nicely stir them. Saute for 30 seconds and add 1 – 2 tbsp water to deglaze the pot. This will stop the burning of spices. Now add rinsed lentils to the pot followed by water.
Now close the lid. Cancel the SAUTE function and start the PRESSURE COOK mode on manual for 14 minutes. Once done let it be on NPR for 5 minutes followed by a quick release of the rest.
Open the lid and stir the lentils nicely. If you are adding coconut milk add now and give a nice mix. Then start the SAUTE function for 2 minutes and simmer. But if not adding coconut milk then skip this step.
Add chopped cilantro leaves and drizzle some freshly squeezed lemon juice. Serve it hot with plain steamed rice or cilantro lime rice. It goes well with naan or any bread too.
Can I make this on stovetop?
Yes, absolutely you can make this red lentil curry on the stovetop as well. This can be made using a manual pressure cooker or on a heavy bottom pan/ Dutch oven. However, the timing will be a little longer if we cook in a pot or Dutch oven since the whole lentils may take up to 30 – 40 minutes of cooking time.
Again, if you are planning to make them in a pot, consider taking the split red lentils instead of the whole ones. This will also work with a lesser cooking time of 20 – 25 minutes. And if you are taking split red lentils, then coconut cream is an essential ingredient to make this smooth and creamy texture.
How to store and reheat?
You can store the leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight box closed with a lid. This can stay good for up to a week. The overnight stored lentils are even yummier since they are completely infused with aromatic spices.
To reheat, remove it to a microwave dish and heat for 1 minute, stirring at 30 seconds. Or take it out in a saucepan and simmer for 2 minutes on low flame. If required, add some freshly chopped cilantro leaves before serving.
Can I add vegetables to this red lentil curry?
Traditional curry does not contain any vegetables. But you can always add variations when you feel the need. You can add veggies like carrots, potatoes to the lentils.
Tips for the best Instant pot lentil curry
This instant pot lentil curry is way too delicious. The whole spices and the ground spices add tons of flavor to the lentil curry. Skipping that may not make the dish equally great and flavorful.
Consider whole red lentils (husked) for a creamier lentil dish. You can also substitute this with dehusked split red lentils but it won’t turn out very creamy and you will need cream to make the consistency smooth and richer.
If you like spicy, can add 1 serrano pepper (remove seeds) or just skip it if you can’t tolerate heat.
Add ginger paste or freshly crushed ginger along with onion and garlic in this lentil curry.
You can also make this instant pot lentil curry on the stovetop as well. Refer to the note above for substitutes and alternatives.
Recipe card for Instant Pot Lentil Curry
Instant Pot Lentil Curry
- Instant Pot
- 1 cup red lentils whole with skin
- 2½ water or veg broth
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 5 – 6 garlic cloves minced
- 1 inch ginger 1 tsp crushed
- 2 medium tomatoes 1 can crushed canned tomatoes
- 2 -3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup coconut cream or full fat coconut milk
- Start the instant pot on SAUTE mode for 10 minutes.
- Once it's HOT, add oil to it.
- Next, add whole spices like bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves.
- Saute for 15 – 20 seconds allowing them to release essential oil and add flavor.
- Now add chopped onions, garlic, ginger.
- Saute for a minute and then add diced or canned tomatoes.
- Cook till tomatoes turn soft and mushy.
- Then add all the ground spices and salt. Nicely stir them.
- Saute for 30 seconds and add 1 – 2 tbsp water to deglaze the pot.
- This will stop the burning of spices.
- Now add rinsed lentils to the pot followed by water.
- Now close the lid. SEAL the venting knob.
- Cancel the SAUTE function. Start the PRESSURE COOK mode on manual for 14 minutes.
- Once done let it be on NPR for 5 minutes followed by a quick release of the rest.
- Open the lid and stir the lentils nicely. ep.
- NOTE – If you are adding coconut milk add now and give a nice mix. Then start to saute function for 2 minutes and simmer. But if not adding coconut milk then skip this step.
- Add chopped cilantro leaves and drizzle some freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Serve it hot with plain steamed rice or cilantro lime rice.