Red Lentil Curry Dal (Instant Pot)

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Oh so creamy & dreamy. Coconut red lentil curry dal is total comfort food, Indian style! Instant Pot + 10 pantry-staple ingredients = a weeknight winner.

Bowl of red lentil curry dal with white rice in a bowl with spoon

Red Lentil Curry is Oh So Easy

“Plant-based takes soooo much extra time!” I hear this on the daily. But lemme tell ya, this mama is 👏🏻 all 👏🏻 about 👏🏻 pantry 👏🏻 dinners!

I kept it simple: just 10 ingredients. But you can easily add chopped butternut or cauliflower to the Instant Pot, or stir in baby spinach at the end… or whatever veggies your lil’ heart desires.

OK, my kitchen bestie, grab these: red lentils, a can of coconut milk, coconut oil, vegetable broth concentrate paste (like “Better Than Bouillon), and some spices: curry powder, garam masala, onion powder and sea salt.

Who else buys these refrigerated squeeze tubes of ginger paste and garlic paste? I use ’em constantly! The first time I experimented with this red lentil curry, I started the traditional Indian way: sautéing diced onion, garlic and ginger with spices. I didn’t expect the red lentils to turn SO soft and creamy… so in the middle of each creamy, dreamy bite 💥BAM, GINGER. My recipe guinea pigs (aka: my family) all agreed to embrace the creaminess.

Using onion powder and these ginger/garlic pastes means a single, smooth consistency.

Gotta Love a GIF!

Here’s a quick overview of making your creamy, dreamy lentils.

GIF Process for making red lentil curry in instant pot
  • Set Instant Pot to saute.
  • Add oil, ginger & garlic pastes. Stir until fragrant. Add seasonings. Stir until fragrant.
  • Add lentils and broth.
  • Set to Pressure Cook or Manual for 9 minutes.
  • When finished, let it natural release for another 9 minutes.
  • Pour in the coconut milk and salt to taste.

Let’s Eat That Red Lentil Curry!

Red lentil curry dal (or any lentil dal) is delicious by itself or served with/over rice. I like sprinkling a little cilantro on top, for a bright flavor pop. Buuuut my hubby has the “cilantro tastes like soap gene” which means I save that for my own bowl, not the whole dish. 😉

If you have any leftovers (doubtful), just keep them in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3-4 days. You can also divide up leftovers (or cook a double batch) to use for meal prep!

To Instant Pot or Not?

When I first started blogging, my Momma asked when I would share some recipes that DON’T use the Instant Pot because she doesn’t have one. 🤷🏼‍♀️ Sorry, Momma, it was winter in Colorado and I was livin’ the cozy soup life… so… “When the snow melts” was probably my answer. LOL

I was a serious crockpot girl most of my life when I ate meat… but veggies tend to just, well, turn to mush. So when I “went veg”, I was excited about one-pot, fast-cooking, no-mushy-veg dishes.

Um. I just wrote that in a post about creamy, soft lentils. 🤦🏼‍♀️ Good job, Katie!

Seriously though, living at this elevation it’s a real struggle to cook dried beans and lentils. I almost exclusively use canned because of it. Red lentils, however, are uniquely tender and quick-cooking. I’ve tried this recipe at our elevation in a pot, and the lentils aren’t as tender.

If you live at a lower / sea level elevation, I would TOTALLY LOVE to hear if this recipe works on the stove for you! My hunch is: it will.

Want more Vegan Indian Food?

There are few food bloggers who I’ve followed for years, cooked many of their dishes and recommend highly. Richa, of Vegan Richa, is one of them. She’s my hands-down, go-to expert for vegan Indian food (and basically everything in a crockpot, too). I mean, my besties keep asking me to post “my” aloo gobi recipe… but I can’t, cuz it’s not my recipe. It’s Richa’s aloo gobi that I’ve been making since 2017. 😍

Dude, I’m Still Hungry

Red Lentil Curry and White Rice in a Bowl with a Spoon

Creamy Red Lentil Curry Dal (Instant Pot)

  • Author: Katie Allen
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 25
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x


Oh so creamy & dreamy. Coconut red lentil curry dal is total comfort food, Indian style! Instant Pot + 10 ingredients = a weeknight winner.



  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste (or 1/2 tsp dried ginger)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable broth concentrate paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • sea salt, to taste


  1. Set Instant Pot to saute with the lid off.
  2. Cook oil, ginger and garlic for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add onion powder, curry, garam masala and stir until fragrant.
  4. Add lentils and broth. Stir to combine.
  5. Set lid to “sealing”. Set Instant Pot to “manual” for 9 minutes.
  6. After it has come to pressure and cooked for 9 minutes, allow the steam to “natural release” for 9 more minutes.
  7. Stir coconut milk into the lentils. Stir. Salt to taste.


Tip: salt lentils after they’re cooked, otherwise they can become tough if they’re salted before cooking.

  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Indian


  1. I love a lentil curry for a veggie option.

  2. This recipe has amazing flavors! Thank you for sharing

  3. Yum! This is a great looking and healthy dish. I love how easy it sounds and can’t wait to give it a go. The ginger tubes are cool, I will look for them at the shop this weekend. Thanks for sharing!

  4. This looks great. Here is a tip, try sauteing the cilantro in oil instead of adding it as garnish. It tastes much better. 🙂

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