Lentil Curry (Instant Pot or Stove)

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This easy lentil curry made with curry powder, garam masala, and other spices is perfect over white rice or cauliflower rice as a vegan or vegetarian main or side dish.

Lentil Curry

Lentil Curry

This red lentil curry is more like a soup than a thick stew and can be made on the stove or in the Instant Pot. It’s perfect served over rice or cauliflower rice. Adding a little lime and cilantro at the end improves and brightens the flavor. Best of all, the curry can stay in the fridge all week for leftovers, and it freezes well. I am always trying to eat more lentils throughout the week because they’re a simple way to achieve my fiber goals (at least 25 grams per day). More lentil recipes I love are this lentil soup and lentil salad.

pot of lentils

This healthy lentil curry recipe is from the new cookbook Plantifully Lean by Kiki Nelson, which features “more than 125 simple, plant-based, low-fat recipes.” She offers satisfying and delicious plant based dishes, including Shiitake Rice with Thai Peanut Sauce and French Onion Soup. I was fascinated to read about her weight loss journey following a high-carbohydrate, low-fat, plant based diet. So many of her recipes looked amazing, but I was most excited to try this vegan curry, and I’m happy I did.

Lentil Curry Ingredients

  • Spices: Cumin seeds, garam masala, curry powder, coriander, salt
  • Aromatics: Fresh minced garlic and ginger, diced onion
  • Tomatoes: Dice two Roma tomatoes.
  • Lentils: I used one cup of red lentils.
  • Water for the lentils to cook in
  • Garnish: Cilantro leaves and lime wedges

Frequently Asked Questions about Lentils

Do you need to soak red lentils?
The great thing about lentils is that they don’t require soaking like beans do. Plus, they cook much faster than dried beans. You may want to rinse the lentils in a fine mesh strainer to ensure there’s no debris.

Do you have to cook lentils before adding them to curry?
No! The lentils cook in the curry, making this dish a one-pot meal.

How long do lentils take to cook in a curry?
Red lentils take about 20 to 30 minutes on the stove and 20 minutes in the Instant Pot.

Is lentil curry good for you?

This lentil curry without coconut milk is full of fiber and protein and under 300 calories. Lentils are also packed with vitamins and minerals, like iron, B6, and potassium.

How to Make Lentil Curry

  1. Cumin Seeds: For the Instant Pot, push “Sauté,” and on the stove, heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Toast the cumin seeds for a minute until fragrant and browned.
  2. Add the other ingredients: tomatoes, onion, garlic, garam masala, curry powder, coriander, salt, and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.
  3. Lentils: Stir in the lentils and four cups of water. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and pressure cook for 20 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally. On the stove, bring the water to a boil, cover, and cook on low for 20 to 30 minutes until the lentils are tender.

How to Serve Lentil Curry

I like this lentil curry over white or brown rice or cauliflower rice for a low-carb option. You could also serve it with a piece of naan or roti to scoop up the lentils. If you want a vegetable to go with it, try this Warm Curry Roasted Vegetable Salad, Rainbow Carrots with Ginger, or Roasted Cauliflower.

How to Store Lentil Curry

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for up to a month. The red lentil curry is even more delicious the next day, making it perfect for meal prep! Reheat it in the microwave until warm.


  • Lentils: You can swap red lentils with green or brown ones.
  • Vegetables: Add spinach or kale at the end.
  • Cumin: If you don’t have cumin seeds, add ground cumin with the other spices.
Lentil Curry
lentils and rice

More Lentil Recipes You’ll Love

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Total: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1 1/3 cups

Instant Pot Method:

  • Select the Sauté setting on your Instant Pot or multicooker.

  • Place the cumin seeds in the inner pot and toast until fragrant and browned, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, garam masala, curry powder, coriander, salt, and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

  • Stir in the lentils plus 4 cups water.

  • Seal the pot and pressure-cook for 20 minutes, then allow the pressure to release naturally.

Stove Method:

  • Heat a large pot over medium-high heat.

  • Place the cumin seeds in the pot and toast until fragrant and browned, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic,

  • garam masala, curry powder, coriander, salt, and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

  • Stir in the lentils plus 4 cups water. Bring to a boil then cook covered on low, 20 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender and cooked.

Last Step:

Please leave a rating and comment letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business to thrive and continue providing free, high-quality recipes for you.

Store any left- overs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to a month.
The curry is even more delicious the next day!

Serving: 1 1/3 cups, Calories: 216 kcal, Carbohydrates: 41 g, Protein: 13 g, Fat: 1 g, Sodium: 294 mg, Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 7 g

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