[Instant Pot] Easy Vegetable Curry

bowl of vegetable curry with side of brown rice

Original publish date September 25, 2014. Updated 2023 with expanded information.

This Instant Pot Vegetable Curry is a simple, healthy dinner that will fill you up with plant-powered nutrition. A mountain of mixed veggies, warm spices and creamy coconut milk make this a quick meal that will nourish your whole family – vegan and gluten free eaters included.

A curry spice blend peppered with cinnamon and nutmeg creates an aromatic curry that transports my appetite to a steamy West Indian or Caribbean kitchen. You will crave it and cook it again and again!

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Why to Use Instant Pot for Vegetable Curry

Your pressure cooker can give a quick veggie curry layers of slow-cooked flavors… without the slow-cooking!

For quick-cooking foods like vegetables, you don’t necessarily save much time by using a pressure cooker compared to simmering on a stovetop… But, the flavors do marry together more deeply and you don’t have to worry about babysitting a pot.

Ingredients

kale, bell peppers, onion, sweet potato, tomato, chickpeas

You can mix and match all kinds of different produce and end up with a delicious veggie curry – and we can talk about a few more particular favorite versions in the next section – but here is the ingredient rundown for today’s tasty curry!

Kale is an especially nutrient-dense dark leafy green that pairs well with lots of other veggies. Remove any especially thick ribs from the leaves before chopping into ribbons.

Sweet potatoes, because they are a starchy vegetable, make the curry more filling and satisfying. They are denser than most other veggies, so I like to quarter then lengthwise and then chop into thin slices for even cooking.

Bell Peppers provide more natural sweetness and more colorful antioxidant carotenoid pigments.

Onion is an essential savory note.

Tomato adds body to the curry sauce, and rounds out the plant-powered nutrition profile with lycopene, yet another carotenoid antioxidant.

Chickpeas add a bit of protein and a healthy dose of extra fiber, helping your bowl of veggies make you feel fuller and more satisfied. Because the veggies have such a quick cook time, use canned or pre-cooked beans.

Curry powder is an easy way to build the foundation of your sauce’s flavor without opening ten different spice jars… Most curry powders found in the supermarket are blended with spices like turmeric, black pepper, coriander, fenugreek and ginger.

Dried cayenne pepper is a simple way to add a little kick of heat. If you prefer, you can certainly use fresh minced hot peppers instead.

Cinnamon and nutmeg are a little extra touch of spice that I like to sprinkle in to supplement my curry powder. I appreciate the added warmth, and the fragrance makes me dream of a steamy West Indian curry pot.

Vegetable broth is the liquid that marries together all of the flavors, and creates the stream to pressurize the cooker.

Coconut milk is the creamy base of the curry sauce – so rich and nourishing!

Other Favorite Vegetable Combos for Mixed Veggie Curry

Of course, one should never feel too bound by an ingredient list for a simple veggie curry… Do not limit yourself – cook freely! Use what’s beautiful in your garden or at the market.

Aim for a variety of colors, and a balance of non-starchy and starchy vegetables and/or beans to make you feel full. I always need a big onion in the pot, and I never regret adding a big pile of leafy greens.

I’ll take a moment to highlight a few favorite featured combinations:

Cauliflower, potato, tomato: a simple spin on aloo gobi – I love pairing tender cauliflower with chunks of hearty Yukon gold potatoes.

Cabbage, broccoli, carrots: a double dose of cruciferous goodness, tempered with natural sweetness from carrots.

Mushrooms, green beans, corn: mushrooms are so savory and meaty! Cook them with tender green beans and sweet corn for a super satisfying bowl of veggies.

Step By Step: How to Cook

Prep Vegetables

chopped sweet potato and onion

Before we get cooking, it is most efficient to chop all of the vegetables and have them ready to go.

There’s no need to get fiddly with our chopping – just everything into big, bite-sized pieces. For tough vegetables like sweet potatoes, try to keep the thickness of the slices just over 1/4 inch and aim to for consistent sized pieces for even cooking.

Saute

sweet potato and onion sauteed in instant pot

After everything is chopped, turn on Instant Pot’s Saute function to medium heat. Add a splash of oil and throw in your onion, sweet potato and spices.

You’ll want to let these guys brown a little bit before the other veggies join the party. It builds flavor, toasts the spices, and concentrates natural sweetness.

Pressure Cook, Then Add Coconut Milk

two bowls of Veggie Curry with a side of brown rice

Stir in the rest of the veggie chunks, and pour in the cup of vegetable broth. This liquid will create the steam required to bring the pot up to pressure. Close the lid, and use Manual mode to set a cook time of 2 minutes.

After the cook time is finished, you may open the valve immediately for a quick pressure release. After opening the lid, finish the curry by stirring in the can of coconut milk. Waiting until after pressure cooking to add this ingredient gives you a creamier sauce with fresher coconut flavor.

Storage & Make Ahead Tips

Following USDA food safety guidelines, leftover curry can be stored safely in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

For longer term storage, veggie curries can be kept in the freezer with good quality for up to 6 months. Store in airtight containers and reheat very gently to avoid mushy vegetables.

FAQs

Cashew cream is another plant-based option for making a rich, creamy curry sauce. Use 1 cup of raw unroasted cashews and soak them for at least 8 hours before you’re ready to eat your curry. Then, drain off the soaking water, add 2/3 cup fresh water, and puree the nuts in a blender. Add this cashew cream to the curry after pressure cooking for the freshest flavor and creamiest texture.

This recipe yields a brothy curry sauce. One simple way to make a thicker sauce is to finish with a cornstarch slurry: mix one tablespoon cornstarch into two tablespoons of water in a small bowl until smooth. Add this slurry to the finished curry and turn on Instant Pot’s Saute mode to continue cooking and stirring for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.

Another way to enjoy a thicker curry sauce with extra protein and fiber is to use cooked red lentils; unlike other lentils which keep their shape, red lentils break down into a puree-like texture. Unfortunately their pressure cook time (about 5 minutes) is not the best match for this quick veggie curry, so they would have to be cooked separately and combined. For more details on how to pressure cook them, see my Instant Pot Spinach & Red Lentil Dal recipe.

two bowls of Caribbean Veggie Curry with a side of brown rice

Meal Prep Ideas for Instant Pot Veggie Curry

If you eat grains, it is very nice to pair this entree with a carby accompaniment to soak up all that tasty coconut curry broth. Try serving it with a bowl of fluffy brown rice, or a pillowy piece of flatbread like naan, chapati or roti.

If you avoid grains, round out your table with a more veggies – a mound of cauliflower rice, or a crunchy cabbage slaw.

For a bigger feast, pair with a spicy chicken dish – like my beloved Instant Pot Jerk Chicken!

Double Decker Dinner with Vegetable Curry!

Double Decker Dinner is a personal favorite Instant Pot recipe theme, all about finding the right combination of foods that pair together as a balanced meal and that can be stacked and cooked at the same time in the same pressure cooker. It’s one-pot wonderful! 

Because veggies cook quickly under pressure – just 2 minutes for this curry recipe! – we need a double decker pairing that cooks just as fast.

For a stackable curry feast, I would reach for the cauliflower rice! Nestle a tall cooking rack into the curry and top it with a steamer basket. Pile up as much cauliflower rice as you like, and let them pressure cook together.

If you have your heart set on stacking a real grain – another option is couscous. Top your tall cooking rack with a stainless steel insert pan and fill it with equal amounts of dry couscous and water (and a sprinkle of salt and/or splash of olive oil, if desired). After they pressure cook together, fluff the couscous with a fork and enjoy!

For more tips and context about these cooking tools, read my post: Guide: Stackable Pans & Equipment for Instant Pot Double Decker Dinners.

Nutrition Insights

Food for thought, from your friendly neighborhood Registered Dietitian Nutritionist + food science buff!

Because this recipe is mostly a big pile of vegetables, it is very low in calorie density. Each large serving provides only 490 calories, so pair it with a side dish to fuel up with more energy.

Most of the calories come from the coconut milk in the curry sauce. Coconut is known for having a high saturated fat content, but its fatty acid profile is unique. Coconut fat contains lauric acid and medium chain triglycerides, which are absorbed more easily than other kinds of fat. They are less likely to be stored as fat, and may have a greater affect on triggering satiety and reducing appetite. As in all things in biology and nutrition, response varies by individual – so you must listen to your body, track your health, and study how you personally react to different foods.

This recipe is suitable for vegan and gluten free diets. It is also a good choice for paleo-style eaters, if you simply leave out the chickpeas.

More Instant Pot Curry Recipes

Instant Pot Recipe: Everyday Lentil & Spinach Dal

[Instant Pot] Spinach Dal with Red Lentils

Another steamy, spicy bowl of plant-powered goodness – spinach dal with red lentils will warm you to the core, and fill you up with plenty of protein and fiber.

[Instant Pot] Double-Decker Saag Paneer + Cauliflower Rice

[Instant Pot] Double Decker Palak Paneer + Cauliflower Rice

The classic Indian spinach and cheese curry gets the Double Decker Dinner treatment in this stackable recipe – palak paneer with cauliflower rice piled into a steamer basket right on top!

[Instant Pot] Double Decker Thai Coconut Beef Curry + Brown Jasmine Rice

[Instant Pot] Double Decker Thai Beef Curry + Brown Jasmine Rice

Another Double Decker Dinner combo, designed to cook together in the same Instant Pot: Thai curry beef with fluffy brown jasmine rice to soak up every drop of that spicy coconut sauce!

two bowls of Veggie Curry with a side of brown rice

[Instant Pot] Easy Vegetable Curry

Mary Clare Fraker, MS RD
This Instant Pot Vegetable Curry is a simple, healthy dinner that will fill you up with plant-powered nutrition. A mountain of mixed veggies, warm spices and creamy coconut milk make this a quick meal that will nourish your whole family – vegan and gluten free eaters included.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean, Indian
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 490 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato ~10 oz., halved or quartered lengthwise then cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 3/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 dash nutmeg about 7 grates on a microplane
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 1 medium tomato chopped
  • 1 medium bunch of kale chopped
  • one 15 ounce can chickpeas drained (or same amount of cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth or broth of your choice
  • one 15 ounce can coconut milk

Instructions
 

Instant Pot Instructions:

  • Using the saute function, heat the oil in the pressure cooker. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion, sweet potato, curry powder, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to soften and brown (about 5 minutes). Add the rest of the vegetables, the chickpeas, and the vegetable broth and stir to combine.
  • Close the lid, with the valve set to sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is complete, carefully open the valve to manually release the pressure. Stir in the coconut milk and serve hot.
Keyword curry, stew, Vegan, Vegetarian

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