Learn how to make Instant Pot Madras lentils – a simple, everyday dal-like legume curry with added potatoes and carrots for a nourishing dish the whole family can enjoy. Lightly spiced and cooked in a tomato-based sauce, this lentil curry is healthy and nutritious. Serve with rice, quinoa or naan bread. It’s gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
1 onion, chopped very finely
4 garlic cloves, grated or minced
1 tablespoon, grated or minced ginger (a thumb-sized chunk of ginger)
1 teaspoon hot red chili (less or more depending on how spicy you like your curries)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups vegetable stock
1 large potato (or 2 medium), cut into small-medium cubes
1 carrot, diced into cubes
1 cup dry brown/green lentils, rinsed but not soaked
1 can (14-15 oz) canned chopped tomatoes
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
To serve: a dollop of yogurt or raita, rice, naan bread
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped or grated cucumber
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Turn the Instant Pot and press the Saute function key. Add the oil and once hot, add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook for a minute stirring a few times.
- Stir in the spices and salt and cook for a few seconds to release the aromas and then pour in the stock. Press Cancel to stop the Saute function key. Stir through and add the potatoes, carrots and dry lentils. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir gently. See that everything is covered well in liquid, add a little more stock if needed.
- Secure the lid and press Manual/Pressure Cook and set to 8 minutes at HIGH. The Instant Pot will show ON on the display which means it’s in the process of coming to pressure (this should take about 10-12 minutes). Then the timer will show on the screen. Once the timer is done, allow 5-10 minutes of natural pressure release, simply let the IP sit for a while. Then use the manual release to let off the remaining pressure (aka quick release, point the steam handle to Venting or press down on it on newer models).
- Open the lid and stir the lentils, taste for salt. Stir in the lemon or lime juice and cilantro.
- If using yogurt raita, make it while the curry is cooking. It can also be done ahead of time as it keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days. You may also prepare the rice, quinoa or naan at this time. For a speedy trick, use 2-minutes rice packets and store-bought naan bread, which you can reheat in the oven (brush it with a little olive oil or butter).
- To make raita, squeeze the grated cucumber to remove excess juice and combine with yogurt and other ingredients. Sti through and set aside.
- Serve Madras lentils with extra cilantro and a dollop or two of yogurt or raita.
You can use brown, green, yellow or red lentils/split peas in this recipe. No need to soak them beforehand, just give them a rinse if you like.
For a stronger flavor, you can add more chili and an additional teaspoon of garam masala spices.
Keywords: Lentils, Dal, Curry, Indian, Instant Pot, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian