Home > Dinner > Lentil Curry Lentil Curry April 18, 2020 | 47 Comments SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Jump to Recipe This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy. 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! We’ve been on a serious lentil kick, thanks to this life-changing Lentil Soup that no one in my family can get enough of. With a big stock of lentils to use up, I finally decided last week it was time to venture past the soup and put those lentils in some kind of comforting and easy curry dish. Enter: Lentil Curry! While this dish doesn’t look ultra fancy, Lentil Curry is downright delicious and seriously comforting. The warming spices, the hearty texture, and the creaminess from the coconut milk all come together into a nutritious meal that you’ll feel great about eating. Lentil Curry also happens to be a relatively inexpensive meal to make, thanks to budget-friendly lentils. So let’s start by talking about what lentils you’ll want to use in this curry. 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, and 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. But since this curry cooks quickly with dried lentils, why settle for canned? Do you cook lentils before adding them to curry? No! That’s the beauty of this recipe; the lentils are cooked in the curry and are actually what thickens the sauce. For this recipe, we soak the lentils for 15-20 minutes before cooking. How to make Lentil Curry Sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger. Add the diced carrot next and sauté until golden and tender. Aromatics: While the veggies are sauteing, I measure out all the seasonings, which then go into the pot and with the veggies. We toast the curry paste and seasonings to add a depth of flavor. Tomatoes: The tomatoes are cooked for a couple of minutes, and this enhances their sweetness. Simmer. Finally, it’s time to add the lentils, coconut milk, and broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer until everything is cooked through. Finishing. Once all the lentils are tender and the curry is thickened, it’s time to finish the soup with some fresh lemon zest, lemon juice, and cilantro. These three additions add vibrancy and freshness to the dish! QUICK TIP What is curry? That’s a good question! There are so many types of curry, and curry can be both a seasoning blend or a dish prepared with a seasoning blend. Years ago when the British explorers “discovered” India, they used curry as a label for anything with that special blend of ginger, turmeric, and other spices. When we refer to curry, as with this recipe, we’re talking about vegetables and/or meat served with vibrantly seasoned sauce. Serve this curry over rice We love Lentil Curry over cooked basmati rice. Here is my foolproof way of cooking it: Measure the basmati* rice and rinse it in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear. Place the rice in a bowl and cover it with water to soak for about 5-10 minutes. While the rice is soaking, fill a large pot with water and set it to boil. When the water reaches a rolling boil, drain the rice and add it to the pot. Cook (without reducing the heat) for 5 minutes; then drain and fluff with a fork. *Note that these cooking directions apply to basmati rice only, and do not work for other rice varieties (long grain, short grain, jasmine, etc). Tips Finely dice the veggies: You don’t want any chunks of uncooked carrot or onion, so take your time to be certain the veggies are diced finely and evenly. Use fire-roasted crushed tomatoes: The tomatoes make a big difference, flavor-wise, so I recommend a good quality of fire-roasted tomatoes. This type of tomato is charred over a flame before being crushed and canned. Contact with that flame brings out the tomato’s sweetness and gives a distinct smoky flavor; essentially you’re getting more flavor without any extra work. Lentil Curry customization Add spice: If you want a spicier curry, increase the red curry paste to 3 tablespoons and/or add in some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper (to your preference; start slowly and increase as desired). As written, this recipe is very mild depending on the curry paste used — I use Thai Kitchen®. For a more Thai-flavored curry, stir in a few teaspoons to a tablespoon of fish sauce at the end (do not add if vegan/vegetarian). Make it vegan or vegetarian: Use vegetable broth or stock in place of the chicken broth. Decrease the calories: While it won’t be quite as creamy, light coconut milk will work in place of the full-fat coconut milk. More easy vegetarian recipes The BEST Vegetable Soup with pesto Vegetarian Enchiladas with black beans and corn Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with mashed potatoes Roasted sweet potato Vegetarian Tacos Hearty Vegetarian Chili FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content. Lentil Curry 5 from 26 votes - Review this recipe Lentil Curry is packed with seasoned veggies and tender lentils simmered in tomatoes and creamy coconut milk. SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Lentil Curry 5 from 26 votes - Review this recipe SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe 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 Calories 411kcal Author Chelsea Lords 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)US - Metric USMetric InstructionsPREP: 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 NotesNote 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 FactsServing: 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. DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.