Madras Lentils (Instant Pot, WFPB, Vegan)

Delicious lentils in a flavorful (but not spicy) sauce. Quick to make in an Instant Pot, slow-cooker, or on the stove. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword indian, instant pot, lentils, madras
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger root
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 14-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup lentils, uncooked
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (regular paprika won't be as good--splurge and buy smoked!)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • optional for more Indian flavor: 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 can small red beans
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  • optional: rice or naan for serving


Instant Pot Directions:

  1. Set Instant Pot to Saute setting for 6 minutes. Saute onion, bell pepper, garlic, ginger, and spices until onions are fragrant and starting to get soft. 

  2. Add tomato sauce, vegetable broth, and lentils. Set Instant Pot to High Pressure for 20 minutes. Let it quick release. Stir in can of red beans, and serve. 

Slow Cooker Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in the crock pot, and let cook on HIGH for 2.5-3 hours, or on LOW for 6-8 hours, or until lentils are tender. 

Stove top Directions:

  1. Saute onions, bell pepper, and ginger in a splash of water on high for 5-10 minutes, until onions are soft. Add garlic and spices and cook 2 minutes more. 

  2. Add remaining ingredients, and bring to a simmer. Let cook, covered, at a slow simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring and adding more water or vegetable broth, if necessary, to prevent the bottom from burning. Cook until lentils are tender.