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+ servings
Vegetable Lentil Keema with brown rice in white bowl

Lentil Keema (+ Instant Pot Option)- Vegan, Gluten Free

5 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 (1-cup) servings
This Lentil Keema is a healthy vegan/gluten-free version of the traditional Indian "keema" dish. Instead of beef, this dish uses protein-packed lentils, peas, potatoes, and a variety of spices. Also includes Instant Pot option!


  • 1 15-ounce can light coconut milk (entire can)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup dried green lentils
  • 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes - cubed (about 2 cups), no need to peel
  • 3 medium tomatoes - cut in half
  • 1 medium yellow onion - diced
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper - seeded and chopped (red or orange bell peppers also work)
  • 3   cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger - or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups   frozen peas - no need to thaw
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon   ground sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice - about 1/2 medium lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro - optional


  • To a large pot, add can of light coconut milk, 2 cups water, lentils, and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then lower heat until simmering and cook uncovered until potatoes are tender, the lentils are soft, and most of the water is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  • Meanwhile, to a high-powered blender, add the 3 tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic, ginger and 3 tablespoons water. Blend until smooth (you may need to stop the blender and press down with a large spoon if the blade doesn't spin, but once it catches some of the tomatoes, it will quickly puree into a liquid).
  • Transfer liquid to a large skillet over medium heat (using a spatula to remove the remaining liquid off the sides of the blender, if necessary). Bring to a low boil and simmer until you can no longer smell raw onion, about 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Reduce heat and add the peas, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, and salt. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked lentils/potatoes to the sauce. Reduce to low heat and warm for an additional 2 minutes, stirring often. 
  • Remove from heat. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro and let sit for 10 minutes before serving to absorb flavors. Serve with naan bread and/or brown rice and sprinkle with remaining lime juice.


  • When blending the tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic and ginger in your blender, be sure to put them in the order of the recipe (tomatoes first). The blades at the bottom of the blender will catch the tomatoes and puree the sauce easier and faster.
  • Note that this dish uses GREEN lentils. Brown lentils also work and keep their shape well. Red lentils tend to get mushier with prolonged cooking.
  • For additional spice, add a little cayenne pepper. A can of green chiles is also a great addition. Add with the lime juice and cilantro. 
  • Be sure to add the lime juice at the END of the cooking process. If you add it to a still-cooking sauce, it will become bitter. Only add lime juice after the sauce is removed from heat. 
  • I recommend serving this keema dish with brown rice and some toasted naan bread. To get even crazier, spread some garlic sauce on the bread (my fave is from Trader Joe's). It's similar to what you find in Middle Eastern restaurants and delicious!
Instant Pot Option: (See post above for step-by-step photos and instructions. Note that making this dish in the Instant Pot is a slightly different cooking process and order of ingredients, and does not require the 2 cups water.)
To a high-powered blender, add 3 tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, fresh ginger and 3 tablespoons water. Blend until smooth. Turn the Instant Pot to SAUTE and add the tomato puree. Cook for 6-7 minutes, or until the onion no longer smells raw, stirring occasionally.
Add the can of coconut milk, lentils and potatoes. Stir and set to MANUAL/PRESSURE COOK for 8 minutes. Replace the top, set the knob to sealing (on top of the Instant Pot) and press START. When finished, let sit until pressure has released (about 15 minutes). 
Open the Instant Pot and add the peas, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, and salt. Turn the Instant Pot to SAUTE again, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, being careful that it doesn't stick to the bottom.
Turn off the Instant Pot. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Please note: the Instant Pot option is not necessarily faster than stovetop, as it takes time for the Instant Pot to build/release pressure (for me, around 15 minutes to build pressure and 15 minutes to release pressure). However, it IS easier because you can do other things while it's cooking (laundry, etc.) and also save yourself from washing 1 pot by using this Instant Pot option. 


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 37.8g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 7.1g | Sodium: 225.7mg | Sugar: 2.6g
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