Lentil curry recipe

Lentil curry recipe

  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Main course
  • Curry
  • Vegetable curry

This vegetarian lentil curry is delicious, especially if you prepare it a day in advance and reheat. Serve curry with basmati rice or Indian bread, such as naan.

3 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 fresh chilli pepper, finely chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 1 pinch of ground fenugreek
  • 2 teaspoons of Madras curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 (400g) tin coconut milk
  • 1½ vegetable stock or water
  • 5 tablespoons of tomato passata
  • 350g lentils, rinsed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 4 tablespoons of coarsely chopped coriander leaves

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:55min ›Extra time:5min › Ready in:1hr15min

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion, carrots and chilli pepper; cook and stir until vegetables are starting to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in grated ginger, garlic, turmeric, fenugreek, curry powder and salt; cook for 1 minute.
  3. Pour in coconut milk, stock, tomato passata and lentils.
  4. Bring to the boil; lower heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every so often, until lentils are cooked.
  5. Season with lime juice and serve with freshly chopped coriander leaves.

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Lentil Curry Recipe

In this recipe I used green lentils, but to make the perfect lentil curry you can also use green lentils, red lentils, brown lentils, green lentil or any kind of dried lentils.


Lentil curry can be stored, covered, in the fridge, for up to 4-5 days.


Yes, you can make lentil curry without coconut cream, but remember, the curry will not be as creamy, the texture and the taste will be totally different. Therefore, I would not recommend skipping coconut milk.


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Recipe Summary

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove (mashed to a paste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small shallot (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste mixed with of water
  • 1 ¼ cups dried green lentils
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 ounces green beans (cut into 3/-inch lengths)
  • 4 ounces kale (stemmed and leaves finely chopped)
  • 1 medium carrot (thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt

In a small bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, coriander and ground cumin. Stir in 1/4 cup of water to make a paste. In a small skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the cumin seeds and cook over moderately high heat for 5 seconds, just until sizzling. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the spice paste and let cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until thick, about 1 minute longer.

In a saucepan, combine the lentils with the turmeric and 5 cups of water bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the lentils are barely tender. Add the green beans, kale, carrot, three-fourths of the cilantro and the cayenne and season with salt. Cook until the lentils and vegetables are tender, 15 minutes. Scrape in the spice paste and the remaining cilantro. Simmer for 5 minutes, then serve.

Recipe Ingredients

Dal or Lentils: Here I am using masoor dal (red lentils) as it is widely available and cooks quickly into a smooth dish. But you can also use many other Indian yellow lentils - channa dal, toor dal, split moong dal, or a combination.

Spices and Condiments: The tadka style requires cumin seeds, garlic, ginger, dried red chillies, curry leaves, turmeric, chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves), finely chopped shallots or onions etc

Tomatoes: A small amount of finely chopped tomatoes adds a delightful taste, texture and appearance to the dal.

Chopped Cilantro: This is an essential herb to use for dal.

Curry leaves: This imparts a characteristic taste that is typical for dal and some Indian dishes. The fresh leaves are available at Indian grocery stores and dried leaves can be found online.

Ghee/Butter: A dollop of ghee or brown butter drizzled over dal takes it to the next level.

Green chillies: If you want the dal to be hot, add chopped green chilies.

Lemon: If you like the dal to be a bit tangy you may add some lemon or lime juice.

Red Curry Lentils

Just made this for dinner. Yum! It was the perfect combination of spices. I felt like I’d ordered from an Indian restaurant. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  • wear cozy sweaters
  • get a few candles going
  • immerse your house in the flavors and smells of your favorite classic comfort-food-but-still-kinda-healthy simmering stovetop recipes.


These red curry lentils are one of my all-time favorite recipes. As is usually my vibe, we’re working with very basic pantry ingredients here and simple, straightforward prep. It’s hard to mess this one up.

Just cook your lentils and toss them in up this spicy red curry sauce with sauteed onions and a shot of coconut milk. OH MY PERFECTLY SPICY GOODNESS.

I’ve kind of had a fling with lentils lately. Or wait, like, over the last 8 years. These guys, this one, that other one, and now a walk down memory lane back to the original that started my love affair? I can barely stand it. If you’ve never made lentils before, this is a perfect recipe to introduce you to the magic of the most cheap, healthy, versatile, and absolutely delicious little food in the pantry. The Humble Lentil reigns supreme.

Will you eat a big plate of these red curry lentils with rice? Or will you scoop up a creamy bite with a warm piece of naan? Or will you eat it cold out of the fridge with exactly zero judgement from me?

What lentils to use

While red or orange lentils are found typically in curries, I used the brown lentils I already had on hand, and highly recommend the mild earthy flavor they lend to this curry. You’ll definitely want to use dried (not canned) lentils for this curry, but let’s break down some other options:

  • Brown/green lentils cook quickly (between 20 and 30 minutes) and will thicken the curry nicely. These lentils are firmer with an earthier flavor.
  • Red/orange lentils are more processed and break down quickly (about 20 minutes). They have a softer texture and sweeter flavor. If using red or orange lentils, this curry will simmer for less time (and uncovered).
  • Puy Lentils (French lentils) take nearly 45-50 minutes to cook through and are ideal in salads. I don’t recommend French lentils in this curry they’d absorb too much liquid and overcook everything else.
  • Canned lentils, while not recommended, can be used. Rinse and drain them and then cook them in an uncovered pot for less time.



I chose red lentils for this recipe because they break down easily and cook fast. Also, red lentils give the curry a nice creamy texture. If you do not have red lentils, you can use brow or green lentils, split yellow peas, or split mung beans.

You can even use a 14-ounce can of beans, like O Organics Garbanzo Beans! Since canned beans are pre-cooked, you should decrease the amount of broth by about a cup, as the beans do not absorb as much liquid. You can also reduce the simmering time to 10 minutes.


I like using O Organics crushed tomatoes because they have a nice thick consistency, which is great for the curry. If you do not have crushed tomatoes, you can use tomato sauce or diced tomatoes.


I am using an array of spices not only to impart flavor into the red lentil curry but also to balance the acidity of the canned tomatoes. You’ll notice many Asian recipes that use tomatoes call for a little sugar, which serves to balance the acid in the dish. Similarly, the turmeric in yellow curry powders neutralize the tomatoes’ acidity.

If you don’t have some of the spices listed below, feel free to substitute them with what you have on hand. For example, if you don’t have the curry powder, use 1 1/2 tablespoons of Thai-style yellow or red curry pastes.


If you want to add more protein to the curry, consider adding pan-fried tofu, fried paneer , or pan-fried shrimp (if you’re not vegan or vegetarian). You can also add several handfuls of greens when the lentils are nearly done simmering.


Yes! Wait for the lentil curry to cool and thicken (about 1 to 2 hours) before transferring the curry to a freezer bag. To ensure that the curry isn’t too runny, I even refrigerate the curry overnight so that it firms up.

How to make coconut lentil curry

This coconut lentil curry is a quick way to get to something on the table that tastes like it’s been cooking all evening! This is not an authentic Indian or Thai curry, just a coconut lentil curry inspired dish that’s a fast dinner idea. It has a fairly short ingredient list, so it’s feasible to make on a weeknight. The base of the curry is simple: just lentils, coconut milk, Thai curry paste, and tomato paste. (If you need a sub for coconut milk, head to our substitutes for coconut milk in curry.)

It’s also a great way to eat your dark leafy greens! You can throw in handfuls of any of your favorite greens. The easiest is throwing in handfuls of baby spinach that’s prewashed and boxed: or you can also add chopped kale or Swiss chard. When we talk to people about delicious ways to eat leafy greens, a curry is one of our top recs because the greens pick up all flavor of the lentil curry!

  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 80g/2¾oz brown onions, finely chopped (about 1 medium onion)
  • ½ tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 300g/10½oz red lentils
  • 1.2 litres/2 pints warm water
  • 80g/2¾oz tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, to garnish

Place the garlic and curry leaves in a pestle and mortar. Crush to a coarse paste and set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and, once they begin to pop, add the onions. Fry for 6 minutes until softened and then add the garlic and curry leaf mixture. Stir well, frying for 1 minute. Add the chilli powder and turmeric. Stir well and add the lentils and water. Season with salt and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on, stirring halfway through.

Stir in the tomatoes and sugar and simmer for 5 minutes without the lid. Stir well, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Mash the lentils lightly with the back of the spoon as it begins to thicken. Add a little water if required.

Add the tamarind paste and stir well. Garnish the lentil curry with coriander and serve with rice or chapatis.

Recipe Tips

If you are using tamarind paste, make sure to check the strength of the paste as they vary and you might want to add more or less, depending on how sour it is.

Why not serve your Lentil Curry alongside these mouth-watering Indian flavours

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