Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry
Sep 22, 2020, Updated Nov 15, 2022
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Fall means lot of butternut squash in the market. While it’s great in soups, I also use it to make dal and curries.
This Thai Butternut Squash Lentil Curry has a lot of flavor from the red curry paste, the spices and coconut milk.
It makes a comforting and seriously flavorful meal for the fall and cold days.
The weather has been so bad here, I think it’s true for the entire west coast in the United States. There’s so much smoke outside and that has made it difficult to go outside.
We haven’t been outside in the last few days at all. Earlier we would at least go and sit in the park over the weekend (the least we could do in these times) but with the smoke even that’s not possible anymore.
So we have just been stuck inside and I have been making comforting meals since that’s what this weather demands.
This Butternut Squash Lentil Curry is a super cozy meal that I made few days back and it hits just the right spots.
This Butternut Squash Lentil Curry
✔is vegan and gluten-free.
✔makes a comforting meal for cold days.
✔has the right balance of sweet and spicy flavors.
✔pairs well with brown rice, quinoa.
Butternut squash was not a vegetable that I grew up eating. We had other kinds of squash in India but not this. So, it’s a vegetable that I became familiar with only after moving to the US.
Basically, it’s quite a versatile vegetable and if you have been looking for a new way to cook with it, then give this recipe a try.
Ingredients for The Curry
Butternut squash: this is obviously the main ingredient of this curry. Personally, I find it very hard to peel and cut a butternut squash.
So, I always end up buying the already cut squash cubes from the grocery stores. This time around I ordered it from amazon and the pieces were little smaller than I would have liked.
The squash pieces that I used were around 1/2 inch and I would have preferred them to be 1 inch. The bigger pieces retain their shape more in the curry and are a bit firmer after pressure cooking (and that is what I prefer).
But it’s not a deal breaker, either ways it comes out great. If you have a whole squash, then make sure to cut it in 1-inch pieces for this recipe. The pre-cut butternut squash at Trader Joe’s also has 1-inch cubes.
Lentils: for this recipe, I wanted to use a lentil which would cook in the same amount of time as the squash.
And for that, I chose red lentils (dhuli masoor dal/split red lentils). Chana dal or toor dal will make much longer time to cook than the squash so those are not recommended.
Moong dal will also work I think but red lentils cook very quickly in the IP and so they were perfect here. The flavor of the red lentils also goes really well with the squash.
Curry paste: I have used Thai red curry paste here. As usual, my favorite brand is Maesri when it comes to curry pastes. I swear by their products and highly recommend them (not sponsored, just love it!).
You can use any curry paste of choice but I highly recommend this product for best flavors.
Also you can use yellow curry paste here, it should be okay.
Spices: other than the curry paste, I also add few spices to elevate the flavors. There’s coriander, turmeric and smoked paprika.
You can add even cumin powder here and a sprinkle of garam masala in the end would be nice too.
Brown sugar: to balance the flavors, I have used a little bit of brown sugar here. You may use regular white sugar here.
Maple syrup, agave will also work if you want to use a natural sweetener.
Coconut milk: to give the curry it’s creaminess, I have used full-fat coconut milk. I swear by the Chaokoh brand. It’s coconut milk is just great in curries. The other coconut milk brand I have tried makes the curry very coconut-y which I do not like at all.
So, I always stick to this brand and it’s easily available at Indian grocery stores, Asian stores and also online.
If you want to cut down on the fat from the coconut milk, you can use lite coconut milk. I have used 3/4th of a 13.5 oz can of coconut milk. If you want you can use the entire can.
Garnishes: the curry is finished with lime juice and cilantro. You cannot skip on the lime juice, it really brings all the flavors together.
Cilantro adds flavor and freshness to the curry. Basil (especially thai basil) will also work if you don’t have cilantro.
This curry goes really well with brown rice, that’s what I served it with.
You can also serve it with white rice or quinoa or couscous.
This is one of those curries which is just perfect for a cold day or when you just want to eat something warm and comforting. As the weather gets cooler, hope you guys will give this a try.
1- Press the saute button on the Instant Pot. Once it displays hot, add the oil and then add the chopped onion, ginger, garlic and jalapeno. Saute for 3 minutes until the onions are soft.
2- Then add the red curry paste and stir.
3- Add the diced butternut squash and lentils and mix.
4- Add the spices (coriander, turmeric, paprika), sugar and salt and stir.
5- Then add in the water and give everything a good stir.
6- Close the lid and press the manual or pressure cook button. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes with the pressure valve in the sealing position.
7- Quick release the pressure, open the lid and press saute. Add coconut milk, I added 3/4 the of a 14 oz can of coconut milk, you may add the entire can.
8- Add lime juice, cilantro and let the curry simmer 2 minutes on saute.
Garnish with more cilantro and serve this butternut squash lentil curry with rice.
Instant Pot Butternut Squash Lentil Curry
- 1.5 tablespoons oil 22 ml, I used avocado oil
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped, 175 grams
- 1 inch ginger chopped, 12 grams
- 3-4 large garlic cloves chopped, 12 grams
- 1/2 jalapeño seeded and chopped
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste I recommend maesri brand
- 2 cups diced butternut squash 320 grams, diced into 1-inch pieces preferably
- 1/4 cup split red lentils 55 grams, masuri dal dhuli
- 3/4 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 cup water 8 oz
- 3/4 of 13.5 oz can coconut milk you may use the whole can too
- 1 lime juice of
- cilantro to serve
- Press the saute button on the Instant Pot. Once it displays hot, add the oil and then add the chopped onion, ginger, garlic and jalapeño. Saute for 3 minutes until the onions are soft.
- Then add the red curry paste and stir.
- Add the diced butternut squash and lentils and mix. Add the spices (coriander, turmeric, paprika), sugar and salt and stir.
- Then add in the water and give everything a good stir.
- Close the lid and press the manual or pressure cook button. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes with the pressure valve in the sealing position.
- Quick release the pressure, open the lid and press saute. Add coconut milk, I added 3/4 the of a 14 oz can of coconut milk, you may add the entire can.
- Add lime juice, cilantro and let the curry simmer 2 minutes on saute. Garnish with more cilantro and serve the curry with rice.
- Heat oil in a pan on stove-top on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, ginger, garlic, jalapeño and saute 3 minutes until the onions soften. Add curry paste and stir, followed by squash and lentils. Add the spices, sugar and salt and stir well. Add water, lower the heat to low-medium and let it cook until the squash and lentils are cooked through, around 15 to 18 minutes. You may cover the pot. Add coconut milk, lime juice, cilantro and simmer 2-3 minutes. Serve hot.
- Use 1-inch cubes of butternut squash for firmer texture of the squash after pressure cooking. I used 1/2 inch since they were pre-cut.
- Use measri brand red curry paste and Chaokoh brand coconut milk for best results.
- The curry thickens as it cools down, you may add more coconut milk while re-heating.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.