Lentil Curry

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Lentil Curry is packed with seasoned veggies and tender lentils simmered in fire-roasted crushed tomatoes and creamy coconut milk.

Try some other favorite vegetarian curries; this Sweet Potato Curry or Vegetable Curry are two of the most popular!

Savory lentil curry in a dish with a fork, accompanied by fresh cilantro and a side of rice.

The Best Lentil Curry Recipe

We’ve really been enjoying lentils lately, especially after making this life-changing Lentil Soup . Everyone in my family loves it! Because we have so many lentils, I thought last week it was time to try something new. So, I made Lentil Curry!

Lentil Curry might not look very fancy, but it’s so tasty and comforting. The spices warm you up, the lentils are filling, and the coconut milk makes it creamy. It’s a healthy meal that feels good to eat. Plus, Lentil Curry is cheap to make since lentils don’t cost much. 

Vegetables sautéing in a pan, with seasonings and paste being sautéed in a pot.

Ingredients In Lentil Curry

  • Butter or Coconut Oil: Used for cooking the veggies, adds flavor.
  • Onion & Carrot: Make the curry sweet and thick.
  • Garlic & Ginger: Add a strong, spicy taste.
  • Curry Paste & Powder: Give the main curry flavor.
  • Spices (Garam Masala, Paprika, etc.): Make the curry warm and tasty.
  • Crushed Tomatoes: Add a tangy tomato flavor.
  • Lentils: The main part of the curry, make it thick.
  • Coconut Milk: Makes the curry creamy and a bit sweet.
  • Broth: Adds more flavor and liquid for cooking.
  • Cilantro: Gives a fresh taste at the end.

Tomatoes, lentils, coconut milk, and broth combined in a pot, simmering together until the mixture thickens.

How To Make Lentil Curry

  1. Cook Veggies: Fry onion, garlic, and ginger in a pot. Add carrot and cook until soft and golden.
  2. Add Spices: Put curry paste and other spices in with the veggies. Cook a little to make them tasty.
  3. Add Tomatoes: Put tomatoes in the pot and cook for a short time to make them sweet.
  4. Boil and Simmer: Put lentils, coconut milk, and broth in the pot. Boil it, then cook on low heat until the lentils are soft and the curry gets thick.
  5. Finish Up: Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and cilantro. These make the curry fresh and zesty.

QUICK TIP

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

Warm, aromatic dinner in a pot, fully prepared and ready for serving.

VARIATIONS

Switch Things Up

  • To Add Spice: Use up to 3 tablespoons of red curry paste, or add red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Thai Flavor: Add a few teaspoons to a tablespoon of fish sauce at the end (skip for vegan/vegetarian).
  • Vegan/Vegetarian Option: Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • Lower Calories: Use light coconut milk instead of full-fat for a less creamy but lower-calorie option.

Finished, savory curry presented beside a bed of fluffy rice, garnished with fresh cilantro.

More Easy Vegetarian Recipes

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Lentil Curry

5 from 27 votes
Lentil Curry is packed with seasoned veggies and tender lentils simmered in tomatoes and creamy coconut milk.
Savory lentil curry in a dish with a fork, accompanied by fresh cilantro and a side of rice.
Print Recipe

Lentil Curry

Savory lentil curry in a dish with a fork, accompanied by fresh cilantro and a side of rice.
5 from 27 votes
Lentil Curry is packed with seasoned veggies and tender lentils simmered in tomatoes and creamy coconut milk.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword lentil curry
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Chelsea Lords
Calories 411kcal
Cost $6.39

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or melted coconut oil
  • 1 and 1/2 cups finely diced yellow onion (~1 small onion; 1/2 large onion)
  • 1 cup finely diced carrot (~1 large carrot)
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (~3 cloves)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoon finely minced ginger (~1-inch piece)
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen which is vegetarian & mild spice)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder (See Note 1)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon EACH: garam masala, paprika, ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 cup green or brown uncooked lentils (See Note 2)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) coconut milk (lite or regular)
  • 3 cups stock or broth (Use vegetarian broth or stock to keep this vegetarian/vegan)
  • 1/3 cup finely diced cilantro
  • Optional: zest and juice of a lemon
  • Optional: cooked basmati rice (See Note 3)

Instructions

  • PREP: Measure the lentils and pick over to remove debris or shriveled lentils, and then thoroughly rinse with water. Add to a bowl, cover them in room-temperature water and let soak for 15-20 minutes. Prep the veggies: finely dice the onion and carrot; finely mince the garlic cloves and the ginger.
  • SAUTE: Add the 3 tablespoons butter or oil to a large pot. Heat to medium and once the butter is melted or oil is shimmering, add in the 1 cup onion, 1 tablespoon garlic, and 1 and 1/2 tablespoon ginger. Cook and stir for 3-4 minutes. Add in the 1 cup diced carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally for another 6-8 minutes or until everything is golden. Nothing should be overly browning or burning; if so, turn down the heat. While everything is cooking, measure out the spices.
  • SPICES AND TOMATOES: Add the 2 tablespoons red curry paste, 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder, 1 and 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, 1 and 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 3/4 teaspoon turmeric. Season with salt and pepper; I add 1 and 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper. Increase the heat to high, and stirring constantly, cook for 1-2 minutes or until very fragrant. Add in the tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Stir and cook for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any browned bits. Add in 1 teaspoon sugar.
  • LENTILS AND LIQUIDS: Thoroughly drain the lentils. Add to the pot along with the can of coconut milk and 3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 8-10 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another 5-8 minutes or until curry is thick and creamy and lentils are completely tender. If the mixture thickens too much, add a splash of broth or stock and if it's too thin (or lentils aren't tender yet), increase the heat a bit and simmer without the lid.
  • FINISHING: Add in the 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro and if desired, stir in the zest and juice of a lemon. Taste and adjust any seasonings; flavors should sing, so add extra salt, pepper, or lemon juice if needed. Serve over cooked basmati rice if desired (Note 2) and enjoy hot.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: I use McCormick® or Simple Truth® Organic or Great Value® Organic -- all of which are very mild. Curry powders vary in spice levels, so add slowly if you are concerned.
Note 2: I use brown lentils in this recipe; green lentils will cook the same. For canned lentils, drain and rinse them; they'll cook in about 20-25 minutes (uncovered the whole time). Red or orange lentils will cook for about 20-25 minutes (uncovered the whole time). I do not recommend using French lentils; they won't cook correctly in this curry.
Note 3: Here's how I cook basmati rice:
  • Measure the basmati rice (this method doesn't work with other varieties) and rinse in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear.
  • Place the rice in a bowl and cover with water to soak for about 5-10 minutes.
  • While the rice is soaking, fill a large pot with water and set it to a boil.
  • Once the water is at a rolling boil, drain the rice and add it to the pot.
  • Cook, without reducing the heat, for 5 minutes; drain and fluff with a fork.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 4servings | Calories: 411kcal | Carbohydrates: 43.8g | Protein: 16.3g | Fat: 21.4g | Cholesterol: 22.9mg | Sodium: 543.1mg | Fiber: 7.8g | Sugar: 6.8g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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Recipe Rating




49 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Oh man, I love lentils. I do NOT make them enough. I really need to fix that. This curry looks just delicious. I am adding it to my menu for next week.

  2. This looks delicious and I love lentils. Have you ever cooked the entire bag of lentils at once? What would be your suggested recipe adjustments if so? Thank you.

    1. I haven’t ever done an entire bag at once! I think you could double this recipe, but I wouldn’t do more than just doubling it.

  3. 5 stars
    I’m usually just a lurker on food blogs but I have to say THANK YOU so much for this recipe. I’ve made it three times since you’ve posted it, and it’s the first healthy meal I cook that I find myself craving. The zing of the lemon zest is delightful.

    1. Awe, so happy to hear that! I’m thrilled you’ve enjoyed this! Thanks for the comment Erin 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    I used green lentils.. soaked 1/2 hour.. added more spices to my liking.. boiled then simmer 45 minutes.. lentils weren’t cooked all the way.. my sister liked it crunchy .. I did not care for them.. great flavors tho

  5. 5 stars
    This is one of our favorite recipes! It’s so easy to make and always comes out tasting perfect. We love it as leftovers too.

  6. 5 stars
    Excellent curry dish!! Thank you for sharing. Made exactly as listed and will make again. Read recipe all the way through before making as the measurements were confusing at first. The amount of each ingredient is listed again in the instructions which really wasn’t necessary unless you are dividing certain ingredients as part of the cooking process. Just add the amounts in total you’ve already pre-measured and set aside as they are indicated in the instructions. The yellow onion amount didn’t agree between the ingredient list and the instructions which isn’t a big deal but it made me think I was only to put in “portions” of certain ingredients in the beginning.

  7. Good Recipe….but am very frustrated I cannot Pin this recipe on my Pinterest site without going to your recipe box …do not need another place to find recipes. You have a general link to your page but not the recipe and you want us to search again for this one recipe….wtf

    1. This is a great recipe. Very good balance of flavors. I made some changes: cut the curry powder in half, added about a tsp instead of 1.5 tsp of salt, low fat coconut milk, and used one cup of dried lentils. It was a bit watery as I had already cooked the lentils. So maybe I won’t cook the lentils next time or I’ll use less broth. And it made a ton! Leftovers for days!!!!!!!

      1. Cooking the lentils in the curry thickens it a lot (the full fat coconut milk also makes it thicker) so that is probably why it was a bit watery! So glad you still enjoyed it though, thank you so much for the comment Martha!

  8. 5 stars
    Made this for family yesterday and they all loved it. Young and old. Most went back for seconds. Shared the recipe with family and vegetarian YouTube ppl.

  9. 5 stars
    Made this dish for dinner yesterday and we all loved it…so full of flavour!
    Thank you for sharing💕

  10. 5 stars
    Wow, thanku for sharing this tasty dish!.. my husband taught me how to make so many curries, and I seem to fail most attempts and end up letting him correct it for me in the end haha.. But I made yours last night before he came home and prepared it in my instapot.
    After dinner, he says, hey, I noticed you didn’t ask me for help with getting the curry right, I said nope!.. and he loved it of course..Excellent perfect blend of the right spices and ingredients, for the way we like it to taste, amazing flavor, very authentic to me.

  11. 5 stars
    I love curried lentils and have eaten them many, many times. This recipe is simply WOW!! Fantasic flavor, great directions. This will become a family favorite💕 Thank you so much for sharing this great recipe!

  12. 5 stars
    We have made this twice now and it’s delicious! The first time we had it with naan bread and the second time over rice. The flavors are spot on and it has a nice creamy texture as well.

  13. This was delicious – great recipe, though I had to change a few things as I didn’t have stock (and didn’t have time to make any), didn’t have curry paste (so just added more dried curry powder), and didn’t have garam masala (so added a bit of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamon). Plus added two small sweet peppers in with carrot and doubled onions by accident. Thanks for the recipe.

  14. 5 stars
    This recipe is very forgiving. I didn’t have lemon or cilantro, so skipped those ingredients and I also skipped the sugar. I used the spices I had on hand, which worked nicely. (Curry powder, extra hot chili powder, cardamom, cloves, and black pepper). I only had a can of regular tomatoes. It was still fantastic. I served it over stir fried cabbage. It was so incredibly 😊 good. And I did cook the whole bag of lentils, which means we will have leftovers, but not for long. Yay!! Thanks for your help to create an amazing meal.

    1. How easy and adaptable this recipe is one of my favorite parts! I am so thrilled you loved this! Thanks RoseMary! 🙂

  15. 5 stars
    What a delicious blend of aromatics and spices! I had to simmer it for almost an hour for the lentils to cook through and the curry to thicken. I can’t wait to make it again.

    1. We haven’t tried freezing it, but I think it’ll freeze great, especially since the base of this curry is coconut milk! Let me know if you give it a try!

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