Tikka Masala Lentils

These tikka masala lentils, which can be made in your Instant Pot or on the stovetop, are healthy, easy to make, and packed with flavor from the combination of fragrant Indian spices, coconut milk, and tomato paste.

A white bowl filled with tikka masala lentil, garnished with cilantro, with a wooden spoon resting inside.

Tikka Masala is traditionally a creamy spiced curry chicken dish that is most often served over rice. In order to cut the cost and make it virtually prep-free, I converted it to a vegan dish with lentils instead—same great taste made with a cheaper plant-protein alternative. I love to serve mine over fresh baby spinach and top with tomato if I have some on hand.–Brittany Williams

Tikka Masala Lentils

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 25 M
  • 55 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Preheat an electric pressure cooker using the SAUTÉ function. If using an Instant Pot, adjust the heat to MORE.

When the pressure cooker insert is hot, add the oil and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it softens and becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the curry powder, garlic powder, paprika, turmeric, salt, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, and black pepper and combine. Stir in the water, lentils, coconut milk, tomato paste, and lemon juice.

Tester tip: Premix your spices in a small bowl that can be added all at once to the pressure cooker.

Place the lid on the cooker and make sure the vent is in the SEALING or pressure position. Using the display panel, set to cook at low pressure for 15 minutes.

When the cooker beeps, let it naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes. Switch the vent valve from the SEALING to the VENTING or pressure release position. Use caution while the steam escapes.

Top with cilantro leaves and serve.

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    • No pressure cooker? No problem! These lentils can easily be made on the stovetop. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté the onion in oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the spices and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the water, lentils, coconut milk, tomato paste, and lemon juice, and bring to a simmer. Cover, adjusting the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are very tender but not mushy, 25 to 35 minutes. If the lentil mixture becomes too dry, stir in up to 1 cup more water.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    Absolutely amazing recipe! I loved making these lentils. A one-pot dish that's very easy to make and a delicious result. It serves 3 generous portions.

    Absolutely smashing. Such a lovely version of tikka masala. I served it in a baked half of a delicata squash with some lamb meatballs on the side. I took the suggestion from the headnote and roasted a few tomatoes to serve on top of the lentils. These lovely, luscious lentils almost melt in your mouth with each glorious bite.

    Even though there is some cayenne pepper in the spice mix, it’s a rather gentle overall spiciness, as the coconut milk tempers the heat. If you enjoy tikka masala, you will be very impressed with this take on it.

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