👩🏻‍🍳 Recipe: Instant Pot Lentils with Tamarind Sauce

A bowl of lentils with tamarind sauce with brown basmati rice.

5 from 2 reviews

Easy Instant Pot lentils with tamarind sauce is an irresistible vegan meal with tangy-sweet flavors and satisfying lentils with no added oil.


Units Scale
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons minced, fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups green or brown lentils, rinsed


  1. Toast cumin seeds. Set the Instant Pot to Saute. Once it beeps to indicate that it’s hot, add the cumin seeds. Stir the seeds constantly and toast them for 30 seconds to 1 minute until they release their aroma.
  2. Add the onions. Immediately stir in the onions. Cook the onions for about 3 minutes until they start to soften and get translucent.
  3. Stir in the garlic and ginger. Add the garlic and ginger. Mix them with the onions and cumin. Saute for about 30 seconds.
  4. Mix in the tamarind sauce. Add the garam masala, cayenne pepper, tomato paste, maple syrup, and tamarind paste. Turn off the Instant Pot at this point. Stir all the ingredients so they are evenly distributed.
  5. Add the broth and lentils. Mix in the broth first and use a wooden spoon or non-abrasive utensil to clear the bottom of the Instant Pot. Mix in the lentils.
  6. Pressure Cook. Secure the lid of the Instant Pot and set the steam handle to the Sealing position. Set at High Pressure for 10 minutes and turn off the warming button. Once the Instant Pot is done and beeps. Leave the Instant Pot alone for 15 minutes. This is the natural pressure release (NPR).
  7. Finish. After 15 minutes of NPR, move the sealing handle to Open and allow any remaining steam to release. Once the sliver pressure valve has dropped, carefully remove the lid. Stir the lentils.
  8. Taste, adjust, and serve. Taste the lentils and add salt or pepper or any additional seasonings if desired. Serve with chopped cilantro or lemon wedges, or add rice, pasta, or noodles. 


  • To make this recipe on the stove, use a heavy-bottom Dutch oven or soup pot and let it heat to a medium temperature. Add the cumin seeds and stir them constantly for about a minute. Then add the diced onions. Continue following the instructions as written, adding 4 ½ cups of vegetable broth rather than 4. Cover the pot and simmer the lentils until they are tender (about 30 minutes). Stir the lentils a few times and add more water or broth as needed.
  • If you use tamarind concentrate rather than tamarind paste, start with half the amount (1 tablespoon). Pomegranate molasses is the best substitute for tamarind. Refer to the post for more information.
  • We recommend green or brown lentils because they hold their shape after being cooked. You can also use black lentils or French (Puy) lentils. If you use red lentils, the resulting texture will be creamier and more soup-like (but still plenty good). 

Keywords: tamarind curry, tamarind lentils, Instant Pot, Insta pot, vegan, plant-based

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