Instant Pot Cauliflower and Butternut Thai Curry

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on September 18, 2018

My very first vegan Instant Pot recipe is here! I finally took the plunge and purchased an Instant Pot after being on the fence about whether I wanted a new appliance to take up real estate on my counter (it would have to fight for space next to the kids’ piles of artwork, after all). Thanks again for the Ask Angela weigh-in back in February. I’m usually suspicious of new trends and like to wait a good while before I take the plunge, but I’m loooving it so far. I had totally underestimated how nice it is to put the lid on a recipe and walk away! But this same convenient feature also makes it challenging to develop recipes because you have ONE SHOT to get the cook time/pressure correct. No big deal. This curry took over 10 trials to get perfect…I changed up the flavours, cook time (6 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute, 4 minutes…ahh!), liquids-to-solids ratios…you name it, I tweaked it! Nicole and I love a challenge, though, so it’s been fun figuring it out and I do think we’ll get quicker as we go.

I had a stovetop pressure cooker back in the day and that thing used to scare the bejesus out of me with all of its rattling and clanking around. So the first two times I cooked with my new Instant Pot, I handed Eric a wooden spoon and instructed him to release the steam while I hid. I’m not proud, but hey, at least I’m now doing it myself! It’s really not that bad at all, and it feels so much safer than my old stovetop pressure cooker ever did.

Don’t worry if you don’t have an Instant Pot, though! I got yo’ back. We’ve tested this curry on the stovetop as well because I want everyone to be able to make these easy recipes at home! I haven’t had a chance to test this curry in a slow cooker yet, but if any of you do, could you please leave a comment and let us know how it goes? The beauty of this curry is that you literally throw everything (except the greens) into a pot, stir it, and cook. It couldn’t be easier! Of course, I wouldn’t call this an authentic Thai curry by any means, but it’s delicious and comes together quickly on those busy weeknights.

Anyway, if you have any questions about this recipe or the Instant Pot in general, please fire away below! If I can’t answer your question, maybe someone else can help by chiming in with their experience.

 

4.9 from 41 reviews
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Instant Pot Cauliflower Thai Curry

Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free

By

I love the soft, stew-like texture of this spicy curry and how serving it over a cup of fluffy rice lends just the right amount of chewiness! This dish is one of those crave-worthy comfort foods that I reach for again and again. I created this recipe out of a need for more go-to pantry dinner options that take advantage of my speedy new Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. Not to worry if you don’t have one, though—follow my directions in the tip below to make this curry on the stovetop instead. It’s important to follow the Instant Pot directions carefully to avoid overcooking the veggies. This recipe is adapted from my 8-Minute Pantry Dal.

Yield
5 1/2 cups (1.3 L) or 4 servings
Prep time
Cook time

Ingredients:

For the curry:
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can light coconut milk
  • 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can diced tomatoes, with juices*
  • 2 cups (260 g) chopped cauliflower florets (1-inch pieces)
  • 2 cups (340 g) peeled and cubed (3/4-inch) butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) uncooked red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) red curry paste**
  • 1 teaspoon (7.5 mL) dried flaked onion***
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups (75 g) packed stemmed and finely chopped kale or chard
Serving suggestions:
  • Cooked jasmine rice or grain of choice
  • Fresh chopped cilantro leaves
  • Fresh lime juice

Directions:

  1. First, add the oil and coconut milk to an Instant Pot. Now, add the rest of the curry ingredients (except the kale/chard) and stir until combined. I like to press down on the veggies and lentils to ensure they are completely covered in liquid.
  2. Secure lid in the lock position and check that the Steam Release Handle is pointing to the “Sealing” position.
  3. Press the “Pressure Cook” button (or “Manual”, on some machines) and set the cook time to 5 minutes on high pressure. After 5 seconds you’ll hear a couple beeps and the screen will say “on”. The cooking process has begun! You can now go do something fun for about 10 to 15 minutes while the curry cooks.
  4. You’ll hear a few beeps when the timer is up. Immediately do a “Quick Pressure Release” to avoid overcooking the curry. I stand back and use a wooden spoon handle (never my hand!) to shift the Steam Release Handle to the “Venting” position to release the pressure. Once all of the pressure has been released, the float valve will sink and you won’t hear steam anymore.
  5. Carefully open the lid and stir the curry. To achieve a thicker texture, I like to mash a bit of the curry with a potato masher, simply pulsing about 4 or 5 times around the pot. You can also blitz it for a second or two with an immersion blender.
  6. Stir in the chopped greens until thoroughly combined and secure the lid. Set the Instant Pot to the “Keep Warm” setting and allow the greens to wilt for about 5 minutes in the curry. Press “Cancel” to turn the heat off and release the steam again, if necessary, before removing the lid.
  7. Serve over rice or grain of choice, if desired, and garnish with cilantro and lime. The lime juice gives it a lovely brightness, but avoid using too much as it can overpower. I always add a sprinkle of salt and pepper before serving too.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size 1 of 4 small bowls | Calories 290 calories | Total Fat 10 grams
Saturated Fat 4.5 grams | Sodium 620 milligrams | Total Carbohydrates 43 grams
Fiber 13 grams | Sugar 10 grams | Protein 11 grams

Nutritional info does not include rice or toppings and uses Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste in the calculation.
* Nutrition data is approximate and is for informational purposes only.

Tips:

* The canned diced tomatoes that I use are quite "soupy" and liquid-y. If your can seems to be on the low end of the liquid content, I would recommend adding a 1/2 cup of water to this recipe before cooking.

** I love this Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste—it’s shelf stable and comes in a small glass jar. You can often find it in the international cuisine aisle of grocery chains.

 

*** Dried flaked onion is less concentrated than onion powder. Onion powder will work as a substitute if that's what you have on hand, but I would suggest using a smaller amount (around 1/2 teaspoon) as it’s more flavourful.

 

STOVETOP OPTION: Not to worry if you don't have an Instant Pot as this recipe works great on the stovetop too. Simply add all of the ingredients except the kale (or chard, if using) to a large pot, stir, and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 25 to 35 minutes (adding the kale/chard during the last 10 minutes), until the veggies and lentils are tender. Stir the curry every 5 minutes while cooking, and reduce the heat if necessary to prevent it sticking to the pot. Follow directions #5 and #7.

 

Note: Cauliflower amount has been changed from 2 1/2 cups to 2 cups as of Sept. 25/18.

 

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

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Amanda November 2, 2018 at 6:01 pm
Recipe Rating:

So, this is EXCEPTIONAL, with the caveat that it did not work in my Instant Pot either time I tried, so I made it on the stovetop instead. Which is just as well, because I like it so much that next time I’ll make a double batch, which would almost certainly be too much volume for my 6qt IP.

This is already a favorite! Thanks.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 3, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Aww sorry it didn’t work in your IP Amanda! Did you get a burn notice? So glad you made it on the stovetop and loved it though!

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Amanda November 4, 2018 at 9:53 pm

I did get a burn notice both times. Somehow the lentils kept sinking and scorching. I may try it again using the nonstick insert I typically only use for oatmeal, but I find this easy enough to make on the stove that I won’t be too put out either way. Thanks again!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 5, 2018 at 7:48 am

Thanks for letting me know Amanda! I’m so perplexed as to why it would happen for some machines and not others…it seems to be a common issue with Instant Pots. Hope that nonstick insert does the trick!

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Alana November 6, 2018 at 11:05 am
Recipe Rating:

Hi Angela,

This recipe is incredible and the flavor is so satisfying! I made it on the stovetop and found that to be simple enough. I also love making the african peanut stew from your cookbook, and I hope you will tackle more stew/chili recipes in the future!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 8, 2018 at 6:46 am

Hi Alana, Thanks for your feedback…I’m happy you love this one (and the peanut stew) so much! They are both on regular rotation in my house over the fall and winter. :)

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eva @CostumeTakeOut November 6, 2018 at 5:08 pm
Recipe Rating:

I wasn’t in a hurry, so I made the stove-top version. And in using my Creuset, I did saute a whole onion and 4 cloves of garlic, and some ginger–I’ve got to pack in as much nutrition for my high school girls as I can. But the big star ingredients like cauliflower, butternut squash, tomatoes, red chard, there was a ton of nutrition anyway! And one more thing I suggest doing if wanting to maintain more texture from the chard—pour a couple ladles full of curry over fresh chopped chard. Let it sit for 30 seconds. The heat from the curry is enough to wilt the chard underneath!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 8, 2018 at 6:42 am

Thanks for your review Eva! Such a great tip about wilting greens too…I’ve done that before and it’s a handy trick!

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Lisa November 7, 2018 at 1:32 pm
Recipe Rating:

Angela, this curry is perfection! It’s saucy, rich, flavorful and just delicious. I love how everything just gets thrown in the Instant Pot and then 5 minutes later, you’re good to go! I did use full-fat coconut milk, as it was what I had on hand. I took your advice and bought Thai Kitchen curry paste, which is lovely. I have been eating it for lunch these past two days over brown basmati rice with a dollop of homemade yogurt, a squirt of Siracha and a squeeze of lime – AMAZING! Thanks so much for this incredible recipe and your beautiful website.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 8, 2018 at 6:39 am

Lisa that sounds amazing (your lunch idea) and I’m so glad you love this curry so much! It’s a handy recipe for those busy weeknights.

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Lisa November 15, 2018 at 12:13 pm

One question – I wondered how this would freeze? I have enough ingredients on hand to make another batch now, before they start to turn bad, but I don’t necessarily want to have it right away. Thoughts?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 15, 2018 at 6:46 pm

Hi Lisa! I think it should freeze just fine…I find soups, stews, and curries all tend to anyway. I’d love to hear how it goes :)

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Lucy November 8, 2018 at 10:58 am
Recipe Rating:

Made this a couple of nights ago, its amazing. Such a satisfying and simple meal! Let the instant pot do all the work :) Will definitely be making this again! I only had green curry paste, I used that and it worked out fine!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 9, 2018 at 11:41 am

I’m so glad to hear the green curry paste worked! I can’t wait to try it. Thanks Lucy for your review!

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Lisa November 9, 2018 at 1:00 pm
Recipe Rating:

I was very excited to see this recipe and got up this morning to make it before work. I ended up making a double batch (after cutting up the squash and , which will be great for work lunches. I did add about a half cup of water as it seemed a bit dry for the amount of lentils and I like a wet curry anyway!

I love Thai food and especially curries, and also love my Instant Pot! I used some nice red curry paste I brought back from Bangkok last year. I was in such a hurry though, I didn’t read the recipe all the way through and pressure cooked it for 20 minutes instead of 5 minutes! It didn’t kill it (but it’s very soft), and I will go for less next time. It is certainly delicious! I added half an onion and used fresh garlic paste since I had it. I think next time, I will add pineapple, which is quite a common variant for red curry (duck and pineapple is a standard). This has also made me think about other Thai curry variants that I will try – green, mussaman, yellow – just have to dream up some other ingredients! Thanks so much – it never occurred to me that a Thai curry would be so easy in the IP!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 10, 2018 at 8:30 am

Hi Lisa, thank you so much for your detailed review! I love your tweaks!

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Claire November 9, 2018 at 3:51 pm

Angela, my family and I loved this recipe!!! It worked perfectly for us, no sticking. I really hope that you do some more instant pot recipes!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 10, 2018 at 8:29 am

I’m so glad it worked so well for you Claire!

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Sarah November 11, 2018 at 7:09 pm
Recipe Rating:

This recipe is so good I crave it now! So easy to make, so delicious, and so good for you, too!

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Nat November 12, 2018 at 8:42 am

Hey Angela, this looks great! Can’t wait to try it. Do you think frozen vegetables would work for this or does it have to be fresh? Thanks!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 12, 2018 at 9:46 am

Hey Nat, My guess is that frozen veggies would get pretty mushy in the IP, so I would probably say fresh is your best bet unless you are up for some experimentation. :)

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Pauline November 12, 2018 at 9:27 am

I made this recipe the first time and thought it was terrific and had no trouble. I tried it a second time and the lentils were scorched on the bottom and had to finish it on the stove. I tried a third time and again, the instant pot would not pressurize as the lentils were scorching on the bottom. Through some trial and error the method should be changed to mix all curry ingredient with the exception of kale and lentils. Lentils should be sprinkled on top and not mixed it. They should be pressed down into the liquid but not stirred. If they fall to the bottom they will scorch and the instant pot will not pressurize. Delicious recipe and with a little tweaking should always work.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 12, 2018 at 9:33 am

Hi Pauline, Thank you so much for your feedback! I haven’t experienced burning before, but I think your idea is a great one and I’m going to try that out! If it works, I will certainly make an adjustment to the directions.

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Allene November 21, 2018 at 8:39 pm

For what it’s worth, I made this the other night and my lentils scorched too! It was so delicious otherwise though, I’m determined to make it again. I’ll take the advice of the poster above and not mix the lentils in!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 22, 2018 at 7:46 am

Hi Allene, Oh I’m sorry that happened! We did a test with pressing the lentils on top into the juices and it worked that way too. Hope you have better luck next time! :)

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Carol F November 12, 2018 at 10:31 am
Recipe Rating:

I made this recipe last night in my Instant Pot. I followed the recipe to a tee except that I doubled it. It was flavorful, smooth, but with a slight kick from the cayenne pepper. Everyone loved it and I will definitely make it again. Thank you!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 12, 2018 at 2:32 pm

Hi Carol, I’m so happy you all loved this one so much. Thanks so much for your review!

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Danielle D. November 13, 2018 at 5:14 pm

Just tried this in the Instant Pot and received the burn notice (I wish I had read the comments first), despite following the recipe exactly. We’ve received the burn notice once before and we were told it was likely because tomatoes were stirred into the dish (as opposed to just layered on the top). I wonder if that’s the culprit here too.

We’re now trying to salvage the dish by cooking it on the stovetop (it smells delicious).

Reply

Angela (Oh She Glows) November 15, 2018 at 8:45 am

Hi Danielle, I’m sorry to hear you got a burn notice! I just received this comment from Pauline the other day and can confirm that her method works:
“I made this recipe the first time and thought it was terrific and had no trouble. I tried it a second time and the lentils were scorched on the bottom and had to finish it on the stove. I tried a third time and again, the instant pot would not pressurize as the lentils were scorching on the bottom. Through some trial and error the method should be changed to mix all curry ingredient with the exception of kale and lentils. Lentils should be sprinkled on top and not mixed it. They should be pressed down into the liquid but not stirred. If they fall to the bottom they will scorch and the instant pot will not pressurize. Delicious recipe and with a little tweaking should always work.” So I may update the recipe directions even though I’ve never had a burn notice (and I’ve made this about 10-15 times…I think it could depend on the size and model of Instant Pot as it seems like only some readers are having issues with it. Anyway I hope this helps when you make it next time! :)

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Danielle D. November 26, 2018 at 8:21 pm

Thanks for sharing. Maybe I’ll try that method next time.

In case you’re interested/want to test your theory, I have a 6 qt.

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Amy November 15, 2018 at 7:54 pm

This looks so good, my kind of recipe. Super simple, full of nutrition and looks delicious.

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chana November 16, 2018 at 11:35 am

Can i substitute anything for curry paste?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 16, 2018 at 2:57 pm

Hey Chana, I’m sorry not that I know of! I tried a version with curry powder and I didn’t like it nearly as much.

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Eve November 20, 2018 at 10:54 am
Recipe Rating:

I made this recipe in my Instant Pot and it turned out just perfect! Thank you!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 21, 2018 at 8:14 am

So happy to hear that Eve! Thanks for reporting back :)

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Shawn McLaughlin November 20, 2018 at 11:51 pm
Recipe Rating:

so YUMMY on a cold night this was the perfect hot satisfying flavorful meal! Thank you

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Ariel November 21, 2018 at 6:36 pm

Hi,
It didn’t work in our instant pot either. The lentils sank and we got the ‘burn’ message as well. Will try now transferring to our le creuset. I wonder why

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Heather Larican November 24, 2018 at 7:26 pm

Looks delicious!!

Definitely want to try it!!

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Mary Beth November 26, 2018 at 4:35 pm
Recipe Rating:

LOVE this IP recipe !! I’ve made it twice and it was even better the second time around (probaby because I used the correct curry paste this time). The flavors really meld in such a short time. I proabably added a bit more liquid than was called for because I had added some extra squash and cauliflower and didn’t want it to burn. I also left it on warm for extra time as I prepared the kale…..quite yummy.
I made Jasmine rice in the IP while I was chopping the cauliflower and squash. Nice time saver. Dinner done!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 27, 2018 at 7:12 am

Oh good call on making rice while you prep! Have you ever tried pot-in-pot cooking with the Instant Pot? I’m so intrigued!

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Sarah November 29, 2018 at 12:18 pm

If you were to put this in a slow cooker how long would you cook it for?

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Alicia December 3, 2018 at 5:45 pm

This Curry is so incredibly delicious. I’ve made it 3 times so far all 3 in my crock pot as I don’t have a IP and it’s turned out perfect. The only thing I do differently is instead of butternut squash I use yams because I find cutting squash difficult. Every one I’ve made this recipe for has said it’s amazing. Thanks for the great recipe!

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Stacey December 12, 2018 at 4:37 am

Alicia how long did you cook it in the crock pot?

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Adipex December 5, 2018 at 12:27 pm
Recipe Rating:

I really like everything what include curry mmmm. I Made this yesterday, its amazing. Such a satisfying and simple meal! Let the instant pot do all the work :) Will definitely be making this again! I only had green curry paste, I used that and it worked out fine!

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Carol Melazzo December 7, 2018 at 12:21 pm

Would this freeze well?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 8, 2018 at 1:47 pm

Hi Carol, I do think this should freeze well…I find other curries do so I can’t see why this wouldn’t! I’d love to hear how it goes.

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