Pressure Cooker Red Lentil Curry. Oil free. V. GF.

Red lentil curry in under 15… yes, please!  I recently landed a very large private chef job & I purchased my Instant Pot in preparation.  Large, healthy dinners without much thought in mere moments was needed for both our family (as I’ll be traveling weekly) and for my client.  I got the Instant Pot in the largest 8 qt size (it’s huge) and have been experimenting with it.  If you follow me on snapchat you may have seen some fun dishes I’ve been making.

This recipe is modified from Hannah Howlett’s.  It came out great and we’ve been enjoying for fast dinners or lunches on the run.  My daughter just ate a bowl for breakfast too.  This recipe is oil, salt and sugar free.  Packed with plant-based nutrients.  The flavors are over-the-top and I cannot say enough for how delectable this dish is… I hope you give it a try!

Without an further adieu… 


1 can of light coconut milk (not full-fat)
1 – 14.5 oz of crushed or chopped tomatoes (I used fire roasted organic)
2 cups of dry red lentils
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 chunk (about 1.5 inches) of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons of Better than Bouillon vegetable base
5 cups of water
2.5 tablespoons of curry powder
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne (you can use more if you like it spicy)
1 cup or so of fresh spinach chopped

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On the stove or if your pressure cooker has a sauté setting- dry sauté (no oil) the onions, garlic and ginger for 2-4 minutes.  Then proceed to add the remaining ingredients withholding the spinach until the curry is done cooking.  Place the lid securely on and close the venting spout.  Press the manual button and set the timer for 15 minutes.  Once the pressure builds, the pressure cooker will begin the timer/cooking process.  Once completed – I let the cooker naturally release for an additional 10 minutes or so.  Remove the lid and add your spinach.  Stir around to wilt.

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We served this with brown rice and topped with red chili flakes and fresh cilantro.  I hope you enjoy!  If you have a pressure cooker – please comment your favorite dishes to make!
Yesterday during my PT I was permitted to do an old fashioned stair stepper for 15 minutes.  It was awesome and hard (loved it). So here is my update for the week so far:

Sunday:  2 dog walks/rest & elevate my knee with ice.
Monday:  1.5 hours of PT.  Stair master, elliptical, bands and balancing work.
Tuesday:  Gym.  1 hour of elliptical (2 different kinds), upper body strength and core work.

Make it a great day!

— Knead to Cook

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  1. Thank you! I made it and it is delicious! Best part is freezing the leftovers for an easy lazy day meal. Fantastic!

  2. All I have is regular full fat coconut milk & I’d love to make this without having to run to the store. Just wondering why not full fat?

  3. I made this tonight with a couple of adjustments for half yield and it was amazing! Definitely making again and telling everyone.

  4. I’ve made this recipe twice now and it is simple and delicious. However, I am using an old time stove top pressure cooker and the bottom is scorching. Any pointers would be appreciated.

    1. Great question and I’m honestly such a novice with pressure cookers at this point. I don’t have any experience with a stovetop version. Does this happen often with most recipes or just this one? I believe lowering the temp may help or adding a bit of olive oil in the bottom of the pan may be required. oxo

      1. I think electric pressure cookers operate at a lower pressure and thus lower temperature than stove top. If you can adjust to a lower pressure, either the first indicator ring or a slower jiggle, it may help. I had trouble adjusting the pressure on my stovetop cooker, partly because I have an electric stove. I gave my stovetop cooker to my mom and bought the electric.

  5. I do not have a pressure cooker, could I cook it in a crock pot or on the stove top? How long would I cook it for? Thank you

    1. Sonia, I don’t have a recipe for the stovetop but you can always cook the lentils according to the packaging and add the remainder of the ingredients, to the cook lentils, and sauté until heated through. I’ll try to get a recipe up within the month for a stovetop version for you. 🙂

  6. I don’t know what I could have done wrong because I followed the recipe exactly in my instant Pot, but mine came out as flavorless lentil soup. As I was adding 5 cups of water, I should have listened to my instincts that it seemed like way too much. What a waste of ingredients and time!

    1. Emilie, I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve been making this curry for over a year for my family and clients and it comes out perfectly. You need that much water for the pressure cooker to cook the lentils/blend with the Better than Bouillon mixture to make the broth. Not sure what happened but ensure that you use fresh ingredients for optimal flavor.

  7. Hi! Made this last night and loved it! I made mine on the stove though because I do not own a pressure cooker. I cooked the lentils first, drained the water, then added all the rest of the ingredients (but only 4 c. of water, not 5) and cooked on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Came out great!! If you have the stovetop recipe online though I’d like to see it so I can share with friends.
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Oh that’s perfect! Thank you for sharing. Yes, cooking it in my IP 5 cups of water seems insane but with the Better than Bouillon it makes a lovely broth to cook the lentils in. Thanks for your review and adaptation! oxo

  8. I need to swap out the coconut milk for something else. What should I use?

  9. Although it sounds delicious, what’s stopping me from making it is the 680 mg of sodium in Better Than Bouillon Vegetable based, and the 2 tsp. called for equals 1,360. You might want to edit your description stating “salt-free” for those, like myself, who are on a medical-need low sodium diet.

    1. I understand your concern Louise however this dish yields about 10 servings so it very low sodium. If you wish, you can always substitute a lower sodium veggie base in lieu of the one I used. Thanks for your feedback.

  10. Hi, are the lentils put in the instant pot raw? Or do I need to soak them? Also I have vegetable broth so can I just replaced the water and Better than Bouillon with 5 cups of broth? Thank you!!

    1. Yes raw beans and yes 5 cups of liquid. I know so many people comment that it’s too much liquid, feel free to use less, but this is what I use 🙂

  11. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I can’t figure out how to print just the recipe? Help.

    1. Hi Kerry, Hmmmm looks like my print button has vanished. I’ve been migrating my website over to a different platform and wonder if it vanished then. Contacting my IT person right now. For now, you can pin it into Pinterest if you like or copy and paste. Sorry about that.

  12. We made this today and incorporated 3/4 medium cauliflower cut into large flowerettes, 2 C. TVP and additional 2 1/2 C. water. Very satisfying. MJ

  13. This was simple, yet delicious. I added lemon juice and coriander at the end. My 7 year old gave it a million points! I will certainly make this regularly. Thank you:-)

  14. I follow the recipe exactly except I only had full fat coconut milk. My instant pot keeps beeping burn! I finally opened it before it started the count down to cook and it seems fine. Have you had this happen before?

  15. I didn’t have 14.5 Oz tomato on hand so I roasted 2 Roma’s and added a roasted red pepper (blended) instead. Tastes great. Also opted to use full fat coconut milk Bc I had it on hand. Used arugula and spinach (a lot) as well! Yum!!!! THANK YOU for sharing

  16. This looks good and I want to make it… will the recipe fail if I use full fat coconut milk? I never use anything ‘lite’. Thanks

  17. This was incredible! And made enough to feed an army, so I am glad to hear it freezes well.
    I made it exactly as written. I added some shredded coconut and served it over jasmine rice, my entire family devoured it. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  18. This is, bar none, the best Indian recipe I have ever made! My only substantial change was to add way more spinach. It’s amazing. Thank you so much for posting!

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