Instant Pot Red Lentil Butternut Squash Curry. This Warming lentil butternut or pumpkin curry is creamy and comforting. 1 Pot, 30 Min make in a Pressure cooker or Saucepan. Vegan Gluten-free Soy-free nut-free Recipe. Jump to Recipe
The weather is getting cooler (read pretty cold) out here and every day we feel like we need a bowl of hot, warming comforting soup or stew. This butternut squash and red lentil curry works out perfectly for every meal.
The spices are sauteed with onion and garlic, then just put the lentils and butternut all in a pressure cooker or saucepan with some coconut milk and broth. Cook and done. This dal soup takes 1 Pot and less than 30 minutes either way. Serve as is garnished with some toasted nuts or with a side of fresh bread or flatbread.
This recipe is a modified version of the popular Butternut Coconut Lentil Dal from my Indian Kitchen Cookbook. The Dals in the book are closer to traditional recipes. This one uses more common spices and ingredients. and is creamy and rich with the coconut milk. Red lentils (masoor Dal) go so well with butternut or pumpkin!
More Instant Pot Recipes for fall
- IP Mushrrom Bourguignon. GF
- IP Mushroom Wild Rice Soup. GF
- IP Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce GF
- Instant Pot Vegan Butter Chickin(soycurls). GF – Creamy, Delicious
- Japanese Veggie Curry. GF
- Instant Pot Lasagna Soup with Red lentils. – So Easy
- More Instant Pot Recipes!
If you make this recipe, do let me know in the comments below, rate it and tag me on Instagram #veganricha.
Instant Pot Lentil Butternut Squash Curry
- 1 tsp oil
- 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) mustard seeds
- 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
- 1/2 (0.5) medium onion (finely chopped)
- 1 inch ginger (finely chopped)
- 1 hot green chili (finely chopped)
- 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) turmeric
- 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) garam masala (or curry powder)
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) black pepper (or cayenne, or both)
- 1 large tomato (chopped small)
- 12 oz (340.2 g) butternut squash (or pumpkin) raw, peeled and cubed or frozen
- 1/3 cup (60 g) red lentils
- 14 oz can of coconut milk
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) of water
- 3/4 tsp (0.75 tsp) salt
- 3-4 oz (3 oz) of baby spinach
- lime juice and cilantro for garnish
- Start the Instant Pot on sauté. Add the oil and once it has heated, add the mustard seeds and wait for them to sputter or change color. Add the chopped onion, garlic, ginger, chili and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the spices and mix well. Add the tomatoes and a quarter cup of water and cook for 2 minutes stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
- Add the butternut squash or pumpkin, coconut milk, lentils, water and salt. Mix well to combine and pick up the tomato from the bottom of the pot. Close the lid and pressure cook for 4 minutes. Carefully quick release the pressure slowly once cooking time is done.
- Open the lid and fold in the spinach and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust the amount of salt, heat and flavor. Add a good dash of lime juice. Garnish with pepper flakes or cilantro. Serve over rice or flat bread or with fresh dinner rolls.
Sauce pan instructions:
- Follow step 1 and 2 in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the butternut, coconut milk, lentils, salt and water. Partially cover and cook for 12-14 mins or until the lentil and squash are cooked through. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more water if the curry is too thick and simmer for a min. Taste and adjust the flavor to your liking, add a dash of lime juice and serve.
Made this for the third time in 3 weeks. Super delicious with amazing flavors. Used cumin seeds instead of mustard seeds and home made coconut milk. Thank you for the awesome recipe!
Love this recipe. My 14 year old even ate it!!!!!!*****
I am lazy and used cut up organic butternut squash so I didn’t have to cut it.
The second batch I made with EXTRA spinach (need to get what I can in that teenager!)
Thank you , I have shared this with so many.
Vegan Richa Support
Thank you! yes it’s an excellent way to enjoy more greens, and precut butternut squash is definitely a time saver!!
Thank you for sharing this recipe! I was hoping to add more lentils into the mix–how should I increase the water/liquids in the recipe to adjust for extra lentils?
Any adjustments if I add in more butternut squash, too?
Vegan Richa Support
how much more of each did you want to add?
Oh goodness… I’m a very novice cook, so I’m not sure what’s reasonable… But I’m also a large person with a large appetite, so my hope was to increase the most filling parts of the meal.
If I could get away with a whole cup of lentils, that seems good; otherwise I suppose 1/2 cup would do. And I was thinking about increasing the 12oz of squash to 16oz, at least.
Vegan Richa Support
no worries! sure, if you wanted to increase the lentils to 1 cup and that little bit more of squash then just increase the water up to 1.5 cups. this recipe is flexible =) enjoy!
Phenomal. I’ve had bad luck with online recipes lately, but this was flavorful and, with a little prep and help in the kitchen, felt relatively easy to complete! Left me feeling very accomplished and empowered in my amateur chef skills.
Doubled the recipe, used a whole 1lb bag of brown lentils and 2 lbs squash, increased water per your suggestion (doubled), increased cooking time accordingly as recipe indicated for brown lentils, and mixed in half a lemon’s worth of juice to finish… And it was SO tasty over rice. And now I have a bunch of hearty leftovers–a much better snack to reach for midday instead of various processed/packaged foods and more environmentally damaging options.
Absolutely adding this to my arsenal of weekly meals, and looking forward to trying more of your recipes!
Forgot to say, thank you so much for the help!
Vegan Richa Support
You’re very welcome! It can be frozen also after cooking. FYI
I’ve made this a few times with and without coconut milk, always fantastic. Perfect pantry recipe, as it also works with frozen spinach.
Absolutely delicious! The lime & spices complements the squash and lentils wonderfully. I did not have mustard seeds, so I substituted cumin seeds, which worked well with the garam masala. I will definitely make this again.
Delicious! Since I discovered this recipe, I’ve made it almost every week. Such a perfect blend of creamy, comforting, and healthy — with a zip of freshness from the lime and cilantro. 5 stars!
I am excited to try this for dinner, but I don’t have a way to weigh the squash. I have a medium size fresh butternut. Do you think I could use the whole thing?
probably. chop it up and add some and keep adding to get a good distribution. Too much of butternut might make it more butternut soup flavor
This was our first time ever using our instant pot. We got the “burn” message and must admit we had gone a little off with your recipe adding additional carrots and a few more lentils + a little more liquid. However to solve, we hit cancel, quick vented, added a bit more water gave it a good stir and then tried again and it was happy to hit pressure and beautiful success – loved this and great taste. From research on internet these tips would have likely avoid our burn:
1. Have enough thin liquid and have this on the bottom if possible
2. Layer things that might thicken on top (e.g. put the lentils in last to sit on top)
3. After saute of onions / tomatoes etc make sure none of it has stuck to the bottom by giving it a good stir and eyeball check
Awesome! Those are the tips i offer anyone who gets the burn message. some of the pots just are more sensitive. My 6 qt wont give a burn even if the lentils stick to the bottom and do actually start to brown (i do recipe testing with various amounts) while my newer 8 qt is more sensitive and he same recipe sometimes ends up with a burn. So anytime you are using a thicker stew, less liquid recipe or tomato based, you definittly want to scrape the bottom. Sometimes it helps to let the pot cool a bit ( or use cold water/broth), and then close the lid. Also check the lentils, if they are not split lentils, they will tend to stick more
This is v-e-r-y good! I did add a red chili along with the green, and next time I will pressure-cook for 3 minutes rather than 4. My instant pot is big and the recipe doesn’t make that much, so my unit actually displayed the overheating error and I had to turn it off and slowly de-pressurize.
yes try for shorter time with a bit extra liquid. Also make sure to scrape any stuck bits. also check the lentils if they are split lentils. whole red lentils generally tend to stick to the bottom.
Really good! Thank you for your awesome recipes. None that I have made have ever failed <3
Excellent!!!! I have made this several times and have been asked to share the recipe. It is now a permanent one in my cookbook favorites. Thank you for quality recipes.
Delicious and super easy! Next time I plan to add extra lentils and try kale instead of spinach.
This is the best recipe I’ve ever tried! I love it! I served it over cauliflower rice and it was the most incredible meal. The lime juice is a really nice touch!
So good!! I used sweet potato instead of butternut squash and it tasted lovely. It also came together so quickly and easily, I’d highly recommend this recipe!
Best. Recipe. Ever! So delicious! I was looking for an instant pot recipe to make with this huge butternut squash I had and this is the first one I looked at. Seemed like a winner to me and boy was I right! I doubled it because it is a small recipe for 4 servings. I only had one tomato (needed two for a double) and I didn’t have fresh chili so used some dried red, didn’t have lime so used lemon, it still turned out fabulous! Thanks for this!
So happy you have made the Butternut Coconut Red Lentil Curry recipe an Instant Pot dish. We absolutely love this updated version.
I did add extra heat to the dish as we like it spicy.
I could eat this every day.
Do you think I could add some garbanzo beans and cauliflower (I’m not using coconut milk btw) ?
Yes, add cooked chickpeas. Cauliflower will soften a bit more in the amount of time, so if you are of with that texture, then add caulfilower
Just discovered this recipe, had most of the ingredients but had no large tomato but used canned crushed tomatoes, also did not have chilies so used a hot chili powder and also no coconut milk so used half and half with a little coconut flavor and finally added a little curry powder for extra flavor. Still tasted very authentic loved the finished dish will definitely check out your other recipes.
Richa, I’ve only just discovered your blog. Each and every thing I’ve tried from here has turned out perfect. I have eaten Indian forever, but your take on things is so new, so fresh, so achievable. I’m a fan and although not a vegan yet, the inspiration is strong.
Thank you Kavita!
I just made this un my instant pot (my first time using it!) And it turned out great. I love the flavour.
Mine turned out pretty soupy but that it likely because I am still learning how to use this appliance.
awesome! you can saute it for 2-3 mins to evaporate some liquid. What coconut milk did you use? You can also reduce the water for the next batch
Good call! I’ll try that next time. I used Rooster brand.
Hi! Do you recommend lite or regular coconut milk? Thanks!
both will work. Regular for creamy result.
Yum! The toddler enjoyed it as well 🙂
This is the second recipe of yours I’ve tried this week. Delicious! I’ve basically planned my week using your blog. So many yummy looking recipes. So glad I found you!
I loved the flavor of this recipe and will make it again but have two “concerns.” I used my Instant Pot and the time given in this recipe was much shorter than the actual time needed to prepare/cook it. It took the IP quite a while to get to pressure and the chopping of onions, garlic, ginger, sorting and rinsing of lentils, gathering ingredients, etc. was time-consuming, not 5 minutes. No way you could cook this in that amount of time in the IP. Recipe makers need to include the pressure build-up time so that we can properly plan our side dishes and time of dinner. And thank goodness I used already cut-up butternut squash from TJ’s. Next time I will have everything cut-up and ready prior to cooking and see if that shaves off a little time. I was disappointed at how little was in the Instant Pot when done cooking for all the work I had done, no left-overs. My young adult daughters liked it but said it needed more flavor, I used a heaping tablespoon plus of TJ’s fire-roasted green chiles but next time will add more spice. Loved the addition of half a lime juice. I really enjoyed the final result so sorry I’m giving a 4 star rating, not 5 but should be more accurate about time and portions. Will double the recipe next time. Thank you for sharing your delicious recipe!
it should have been 15 mins. not sure where the 1 disappeared. and i’ll add the coming to pressure time as a separate time heading.
Yes you can adjust flavor to preference. The flavor here is from the toasted mustard seeds and spices. If they arent roasted enough then they dont release flavor as much or if the spices are old, then they lose a lot of flavor as well. For everyday cooking, i usually add less than what i’ve mentioned, probably because my spices are fresh and very potent at times. You can adjust the flavor to preference.Maybe it needed a bit more salt as sometimes the right amount of salt helps the spice flavor shine.
Thank you for the reply Richa. I did not use mustard seeds but mustard powder instead because I could not find the seeds at several grocery stores, had them in the past but all out so maybe this was part of the needing more spice and maybe fresher garam masala. I’ve already bought a butternut squash to cook ahead of time to make the recipe again. I talked to a friend yesterday, had forgotten that I sent her the recipe. She is also new using the Instant Pot, she had forgotten that I was the one who gave her the recipe and was raving about it, haha. Thanks again for a great recipe.
great! Yes the seeds do release a lot more flavor than ground. You can always add more garam masala after you open , or other spices, salt, heat etc as the curry is still hot and the spices will cook and mix in. the recipe is also easily doubled or tripled in the 6 qt. happy cooking!
will the amounts in the recipe work in a 3 quart IP? (looks like per the video you have a 6 qt).
yes. it just about fills a third of the 6 qt pot, so easily will fit the 3 qt.
This was DELICIOUS. I doubled the recipe and made it in a sauce pot. I doubled everything except for the oil, and I used lite coconut milk to cut the calories a bit as we are on a program. It was SO GOOD this way. Can’t wait until we are on maintenance and I make the full fat version (which still isn’t crazy fat, btw). Thank you so so much for sharing! Oh yes, and our kids loved it too. My youngest is 11 and he wasn’t initially crazy about it. We added a teaspoon of mango chutney to his bowl, and he ended up having 3 bowls that way. lol Just a spoon full of sugar… 🙂 Thanks again!
awesome! yes mango chutney solves everything 🙂
Absolutely delicious! I made a double batch because I had to use my cooked butternut squash. I added a few other vegetables and this is a wonderful dish: filling, healthy and so delicious. Thanks, Richa.
This was delicious and super easy. Although I wonder if something is wrong with my IP. When I did the quick release there was no steam to release. Also the squash and onions were a little firm but the lentils are perfect. Super tasty. I can’t wait to try more of your recipes.
hmm, i think it might not have latched properly. That can happen sometimes if the inner ring is bent or not sitting well.so the pressure wont build up. So it cooked like on a stovetop. Lentils cook quickly,, so they did, but squash needs additional cooking time on stovetop or needs pressure. so it was firm. You can keep simmering it and the squash will cook through
Thanks Richa! That makes perfect sense. I will take a look at the seal.
I made it in the instant pot, which is the strange part. Might’ve used too much water or something. Might try it again.
I just added the video to the post. You can see that after opening, when you mix the curry its pretty thick and it keeps thickening.
Sorry, but I have to give this a low rating. It was super watery, being pretty much like a soup, instead of a curry. I couldn’t boil any of the excess liquid off, so I had to dump most of it out. Might try this with far less liquid, even that’s a big if.
hmm i am not sure what happened. Did you make it in the instant pot or saucepan? This makes a pretty thick dish as the lentils thicken the sauce as well. Did you use red lentils? If you cooked in a saucepan, the water may not have evaporated if it was covered too much.
We had this for supper tonight over rice and it was just incredibly delicious! Thank you for a wonderful recipe. I did it on the stovetop with no problem. The hardest part was hacking up and peeling the butternut squash. I didn’t have chili peppers so I used half a small can of diced green chilies. I used a can of diced tomatoes with their juice (since it’s winter in Indiana). This is a perfect hearty winter recipe, though I’m sure we will enjoy it all year around. Thank you!
awesome! i always use frozen butternut for the same reason. The peeling and hacking is hubbs job and he isnt home during the day. i plan and make with fresh squash only on the weekend 🙂
Just made it for a family lunch, everyone LOVED it!
Thank you for all your delicious works of art! My kids and I are huge fans.
So delicious!! Thank you 🙂
So delicious!! Thank you 🙂
Many of your Indian recipes call for fresh tomatoes. Do canned diced tomatoes work the same? We are getting into that season where good tasting fresh tomatoes are not as easy to find.
yes canned work too in almost all cases. The flavor profile is the best (traditional) with fresh. Its also good with canned, just lightly different, thats all.
Got the burn message twice and couldn’t get the pot to come to full pressure. Any tips? I made sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so it was clean before I closed the lid.
Fortunately by the second time I got the burn message, the squash was fully cooked and tender, so we were still able to enjoy our dinner.
Maybe add more water or broth. Some IPs are just too sensitive.
Quick question on water amount. I know you add a quarter cup of water with the tomato, does that mean when you put in the lentils coconut milk, squash, etc. that you’re adding the remaining quarter cup of water or a full half cup? Since it is didn’t say “remaining” I just wanted to clarify.
I made this recipe last week and it was INCREDIBLE.
1/2 cup. So good right!
I am making this now. It looks spectacular. when you said this was a modified version of the recipe in your book, I looked at the section on dals and said, “Why haven’t I opened this book more often!” I didn’t have curry leaves for the cookbook version so I opted to do the blog recipe.
I say the same thing to myself onthe few days i dont want to think about the days meals. i should just open the book and cook 🙂
Husband and I made it tonight. I used a choppped hatch chili in place of a hot one, just because I like things milder. I thought the amount of spices was perfect and didn’t adjust anything else. …it was great! Will definitely make again.
This was PERFECT. The whole family loved it. Thank you so much for sharing!
This was great. Perfect in the pressure cooker, I skipped the tomatoes and it was still delicious. Thanks for so many great recipes!
Hi Richa. I am Cindy from Trinidad W.I. Mustard seeds seem to be a difficult to find. Is there a substitute?
You can use ground mustard about 1/3 tsp and add it with the ground spices later.
I love this recipe, Richa! I’ll definitely be making this delicious curry again! Yum!
This is very delicious but has a strong coconut taste. Next time I’ll use half a can and the rest water or broth.
its more a lentil coconut butternut curry. You can use just water or less coconut to preference
You read my mind. I have leftover butternut squash, cauliflower, coconut milk, and spinach that I need to use. Dinner tonight!
Christine @ Run Plant Based
This looks wonderful, great flavors and perfect for fall. Can’t wait to try it, thanks!
This is the first recipe i made in the instant pot. it came out wonderfully. Everyone loved it
I’ve just bought the 6qt Instant Pot in the Black Friday sale over here in the UK. If I doubled this recipe, will it still fit in the pot?
yes, use a 1/4 cup less water than double
Hi, I made this for dinner tonight. It came together quickly and easily and the flavors are amazing! However, I made it stovetop instead of instantpot because I had time, so followed the instruction to increase the water for stovetop and it’s waaaaay too much liquid! It is basically soup with that much water. We still enjoyed it with rice and I plan to make it again, but will definitely not add extra water if I make on stovetop again.
Thanks for another delicious and easy-to-follow recipe!
Great! Maybe the water didnt evaporate as much. For me it evaporated a lot. The pan type and how covered it is matter.I changed the instructions to add more later if too thick, else use same amount.
That’s a great change to the instructions. I don’t know why I didn’t trust my own instincts! When I make a new recipe, I follow exact, then adjust second time. Including “add more if necessary” will encourage anyone following the recipe to adjust as needed. Thank you!
This formula looks astounding, and I can hardly wait to attempt it! Fast illuminating inquiry – for the butternut squash, do you suggest utilizing canned? In the case of utilizing crisp squash, is the suggestion to broil it first to have the capacity to effortlessly expel the skin? Much appreciated!
I use raw, peeled and cubed squash or I use frozen. If you precook it then squash will get overcooked with lentils. You can add the precook squash when you open the lid once the lentils are cooked.
Can I use pumpkin purée ? And how much?
that would thicken up the mixture if you use too much, use about 1/4 to 1/3 cup
This recipe looks amazing, and I can’t wait to try it! Quick clarifying question – for the butternut squash, do you recommend using canned? If using fresh squash, is the recommendation to roast it first to be able to easily remove the skin? Thanks!
Its uncooked squash. I use peeled and cubed , raw or frozen.