What are pulses and why do I need them? Good question! This week we’ll focus on pulses and some tasty Instant Pot Indian vegetarian recipes. And if you’re looking for gluten-free recipes, you’ve come to the right spot!

What are Pulses?

Don’t confuse ‘pulses’ with your pulse. In fact, my online dictionary has the first definition for ‘pulse’ as the food, not the heartbeat. The bottom line? Pulses are good for your pulse (and your overall heart health). According to the dictionary, “‘pulse’ is the edible seeds of various crops (such as peas, beans, or lentils) of the legume family.”instant-pot-indian-vegan-recipe

Does this mean that peanuts are pulses? No, peanuts, soybeans, fresh peas, and green beans, while legumes, aren’t dried. They (especially peanuts and soybeans) have a higher fat content. The dried legumes, known as pulses, have almost no fat.

According to an article published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2014, pulses contain high amounts of fiber and protein. In addition, they contain key minerals and anti-carcinogenic elements that help protect against cancer. Eating a half a cup of pulses a day can improve a person’s serum lipid profile and protect against inflammation and high blood pressure.

For most of my life, I thought that lentils only came in one variety—green-brown. In addition, I avoided them because I thought they smelled gross as they cooked. I have discovered a wealth of lentil (and pulse) varieties, though. You can purchase them online, at your favorite bulk food store, and sometimes even at Costco. WinCo foods has several stores in Phoenix, so we usually stock up each time we go.

This week I’ll share one pulse recipe each day. Having an Instant Pot makes cooking pulses super-easy, but a slow cooker works well, too. Some lentil varieties cook quickly on the stove top. Here’s the first of the Instant Pot Indian vegetarian recipes.

Check out this Instant Pot Indian vegetarian recipe! A hearty lentil soup that's gluten-free and vegan, too. #GF, #vegetarian, #meatlessmonday Click To Tweet Print
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Vegetarian Indian Lentil Soup

  • Author: Anita Ojeda
  • Prep Time: 7
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 37 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x


This recipe is inspired by curries and soups from India, but the flavors are mild.



  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 red potatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup lentils (dry)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 45 cups of water (enough to cover everything by an inch of water).


Turn the Instant Pot (or slow cooker) to ‘Sauté’ and allow it to heat up while you chop the onions, garlic, and jalapeño.

Add the olive oil and the chopped vegetables and allow them to sauté while you dice the potatoes.

When the onions, garlic, and jalapeños look limp, add the spices and stir well. Cancel the ‘Sauté’ command.

Add the potatoes, dry lentils and water. Place the lid on the instant pot and select ‘Pressure Cook’ and set the time for 20 minutes.

When the Instant Pot finishes the cycle, turn it off and allow it to cool for ten minutes before venting it (if it hasn’t already cooled enough to open it).


If you don’t have an instant pot, you can sauté the vegetables in a frying pan and cook the soup in a large covered saucepan on the stove, or in a slow cooker.

  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: Vegetarian Indian Soup, Instant Pot, Gluten-free, GF, Vegan, Vegetarian, Dinner

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes


For more heart-healthy vegetarian recipes, check out the landing page for this series.

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  1. Thanks for this yummy sounding recipe, Anita! And thank you for always providing health-focused resources that improve our lives, my friend! I’m pinning and tweeting!

  2. I have a chicken lentil soup recipe that I make sometimes. I love lentils in all their forms. This one actually sounds better than the one I make, and the vegetarian aspect is a definite plus. This is a keeper! Thank you so much.

    1. Just a question about bologneses–my dictionary says it has to do with tomato sauce and meat…but I’m guessing that chili con carne wouldn’t count? Is it a soup?

  3. I had a vague idea that pulse had to do with vegetables because the KJV uses that word for the kind of food Daniel wanted to eat in Daniel 1 (as opposed to the Nebuchadnezzar’s provision). It’s also listed in 2 Samuel 17 among some supplies given to David. But I never thought to investigate what it meant more fully. And I didn’t realize that the word “pulse” in relation to food was still used today. Thanks for clarifying!

    1. I had no idea that word was used in the Bible, although I was aware that the diet Daniel and his friends ate was plant-based (and people think plant-based diets are new 😉 ). Thank you for sharing that!

  4. That’s interesting, Anita. I had never heard about pulse as food. 🙂 I do like to use lentils so I’m going to try your recipe, though I may wait until our weather is cooler. It’s still pretty warm here.
    Blessings to you!

    1. It’s been difficult making all these soup recipes because it’s been hot here, too! But this week will be much nicer (cooler). Let me know how it turns out!

  5. Anita,
    I have learned about pulses from my Pakistani friends we serve through our ministry….good for you! I’ve also learned that many Middle Eastern spices are good for our bodies as well – like turmeric that helps with inflammation. Thanks for sharing about some foods that are power packed!
    Bev xx

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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