Lentil Curry - mega flavour lentil recipe! (2024)

This lentil recipe is an eye opener – an incredible creamy coconut Lentil Curry made with just TWO spices! It’s a streamlined version of Indian Dal, delivering a similar intoxicating curry flavour but a whole lot less complicated.Make this with any type of dried lentils, canned, or even split peas!

Don’t let the simplicity of this recipe fool you. This is knock-your-socks-off good, and proof that you can eat amazing food on a budget.

Lentil Curry - mega flavour lentil recipe! (1)

“I’ll be honest and say I thought this would be lacking in flavour because I’m used to trying curries from scratch rather than with curry powder……How wrong was I?? I apologise wholeheartedly Nagi!! Amazing recipe, please try this people. Tasty, easy, mind blowingly awesome. xx” – Emily,10 April 2020

Lentil Recipe – easy – mega flavour!

I know it’s childish of me to complain, but this Lentil Curry took anirritatingly long time to create.

I wanted simple. Minimal ingredients. And meat-free. Not like, say, this more complex (but equally delicious) Beef and Lentil Soup.

Quick to make. Very little chopping, very few ingredients.

A “go to” lentil recipe I could make any night that didn’t sacrifice flavour for speed.

And it had to stack up to real Indian Dal.I love it. I just don’t always have the time or everything I need to make it.

I knew it was a pretty high benchmark. Creatingkapow! flavours out of plain lentils without going crazy with a list of spices.

But finally, I’m happy – and ready to share. Here it is!! (And just TWO SPICES!!)

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Two little steps make all the difference…..

The key to cooking amazing food with bare minimum ingredients is good produce and knowing what to do to extract the most flavour out of what you have.

For this recipe, we’re going for the latter. We take our time sautéing the onions, ginger and garlic so they transform from raw harshness to a sweet, savoury flavour base. Then we cook off the two spices to make the flavour bloom.

These two little steps make all the difference so weonly need water for this curry, no stock!

What goes in Lentil Curry with Coconut Sauce

Here’s what you need:

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  • Lentils –use any dried lentils or canned here. Brown, green, red, yellow, whether split or whole OR any type of dried split peas. Green split peas will result in an an interesting colour in your pot, but it will still be phenomenally delicious. Just avoid French lentils (Puy lentils / black lentils) as they don’t soften as well as other lentils so you won’t get the same creamy, thick texture.

  • Curry powder – This is the main shortcut, The beauty of this is that you don’t need any fancy curry powder, just your run-of-the-mill jar from the grocery store. I’ve made this with Clives of India, Keens, and a generic brand and they all tasted just as good. Just be mindful of using SPICY curry powder – check the label!

  • Garlic and ginger – while fresh is ideal (followed by jarred), powder is a sufficient substitute;

  • Coconut milk – if you use low fat instead of full fat, you are not allowed to complain if your sauce isn’t as good as you hoped!😂

How to make this lentil recipe

And here’s how to make it. It takes about 50 minutes start to finish, but the active effort is only around 10 minutes – and there’s a nice flow to it because you can gather and measure ingredients while you stir the onions every now and then.

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The Secret to an amazing Lentil Recipe

The key step here is sautéing the onions, garlic and ginger over a low-ish heat until tinged with gold, and they transform into a sweet, savoury flavour base for the sauce so we only need waterinstead of stock or broth.

Then we also cook off the curry powder and turmeric which lets the spicesbloom before adding the lentils and everything else in to simmer away.

Just LOOK at that incredible sauce! So creamy! Loaded with flavour! (There are not enough exclamation marks in this world!!!)

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What to serve with lentil curry

A sauce this good demands rice to soak it up, though if you’re on a low carb kick thencauliflower rice will work a treat. Basmati is on theme (being a curry and all) though plain white rice or brown rice is just fine too.

And if you really want to go all out, add a side of flatbread: Either real-deal naan or my general-purpose flatbread (an easy, no yeast recipe and I serve it as naan all the time with Indiancurries).

How to cook Basmati Rice
Easy Soft Flatbread Recipe (No Yeast)
How to cook white rice – easily and perfectly
Cauliflower Rice

Now, go forth and experience the greatness that is lentils!! Economical, filling, nourishing – the world’s greatest source of plant based protein, all wrapped up in a coconut curry sauce. YESS!!! – Nagi x

Watch how to make it

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Lentil Curry - mega flavour lentil recipe!

Author: Nagi

Prep: 5 minutes mins

Cook: 55 minutes mins



4.99 from 213 votes

Servings5 - 6

Tap or hover to scale


Recipe video above. This will be an eye opener for you - an incredible creamy coconut curry made with just TWO spices! Hugely economical, this is essentially a streamlined version of Indian Dahl, delivering a similar intoxicating curry flavour but a whole lot less complicated.


  • 50g (3 tbsp) butter , unsalted (sub 2 tbsp neutral oil)
  • 4 garlic cloves , finely minced (Note 1)
  • 1.5 tbsp ginger , finely minced (Note 1)
  • 1 onion , finely chopped (white, yellow, brown)
  • 2 tbsp curry powder , mild or spicy (your choice!) (Note 2)
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper , optional
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup dried lentils , green or brown (or any other dried lentils or split peas, Note 3)
  • 400 ml / 14 oz coconut milk , full fat
  • 400g/ 14 oz canned tomato , crushed or diced
  • 3 cups (750 ml) water


  • 1/2 cup coriander/cilantro , finely chopped
  • Yogurt , optional
  • Basmati rice (or other rice)


  • Saute onion: Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger. Slowly cook, stirring every now and then, for 10 minutes until tinged with gold and the onion is sweet.

  • Cook off spices: Turn heat up to high, add curry powder and turmeric, stir for 1 1/2 minutes.

  • Add everything else: Add remaining ingredients and stir. Bring to simmer, then place lid on and adjust heat to low / medium low so it's simmering gently.

  • Simmer: Simmer for 30 minutes, then remove lid and simmer for a further 10 minutes to reduce the sauce. {Note 2 for cook times of other lentils}

  • Lentils should be soft, sauce should be thickened and creamy. Too thick, add water. Too thin, simmer with lid off - thickens quickly.

  • Coriander: Stir through half the coriander, then taste and add more salt if needed.

  • Serve over basmati rice, sprinkled with more coriander and a dollop of yogurt. (Low carb option - cauliflower rice).

Recipe Notes:

1. Garlic and ginger - while fresh is ideal (followed by jarred), powder is a sufficient substitute - use 1 tsp of each and add with curry powder.

2. Curry powder - I use Clives of India, Keens, and a generic brand and all tasted the same. The beauty of this recipe is that you don't need any fancy curry powder, just your run-of-the-mill jar from the grocery store.

3. Lentils -use any dried lentils or canned here, or split peas (will result in an an interesting colour in your pot, but it will still be phenomenally delicious!).

NOTE: Age of lentils will affect cook times. Very old dried lentils can take double the cook time. Just keep adding water until it is cooked. Cook times provided are packets purchased within the past few months from a grocery store (ie not super fresh but not extremely old).


  • Green and brown lentils - most common & cheapest, cook per recipe
  • Canned lentils (2 cans drained) - 25 min, uncovered the whole time
  • Red split lentils - 25 min, uncovered the whole time
  • Yellow or green split peas - 25 min, uncovered the whole time
  • Any dal (Indian lentils) such as channa dal, toor dal or moong dal - per recipe
  • French lentils (Puy lentils / black lentils) - not recommended as they don't soften as well as other lentils so you won't get the same creamy, thick texture.

4. Storage - will keep in fridge for up to 5 days, and in freezer for 3 months (thaw, heat, give it a good stir and it will be as good as new. Use water to thin slightly if needed.)

5. Nutrition per serving, excluding rice.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 414cal (21%)Carbohydrates: 36g (12%)Protein: 14g (28%)Fat: 26g (40%)Saturated Fat: 20g (125%)Cholesterol: 22mg (7%)Sodium: 782mg (34%)Potassium: 865mg (25%)Fiber: 15g (63%)Sugar: 5g (6%)Vitamin A: 544IU (11%)Vitamin C: 13mg (16%)Calcium: 91mg (9%)Iron: 7mg (39%)

Keywords: lentil curry, lentil recipe

Did you make this recipe?I love hearing how you went with my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @recipe_tin.

Life of Dozer

Dozer in lockdown mode. This is what passer byes see.

(Don’t worry, he still gets out once a day to the dog park! He just doesn’t go out as much as he used to. Like all of us. 😩)

Lentil Curry - mega flavour lentil recipe! (12)

Lentil Curry - mega flavour lentil recipe! (2024)


What is the difference between lentil curry and dal? ›

Dal is just boiled lentils, with simple spices added after boiling. A 'curry', on the other hand, is usually heavily spiced. In a curry, the spices are added at the start, not at the end.

How long can you keep lentil curry in the fridge? ›

How long does it keep? This red lentil curry will keep well in the fridge for 4 to 5 days and it's easily reheated in a pot on the stovetop. It also freezes really well, for up to 3 months. Thaw it fully in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Can I use yogurt instead of coconut milk in curry? ›

Yogurt. Like heavy cream and half and half, higher fat plain yogurts of all types could also substitute coconut milk for the color and a similarly smooth and creamy texture. Because yogurt has a lower fat content than coconut milk, the consistency could be slightly thinner with the 1:1 substitution ratio.

Which Indian lentil is the healthiest? ›

Urad dal or black lentil is one of the most nutritious pulses known to mankind. Low in fat and calories, Urad dal helps to improve digestion. With it being a rich source of protein and vitamin B3, it makes our bones stronger and is said to boost energy levels, enhance heart health and strengthen our nervous system.

Is dal healthier than chicken? ›

A mere 1.5 cups of lentils contains just as much protein as a 3 oz chicken breast, but lentils contain the dietary fiber, copper, phosphorus, and manganese that you can't get from meat. Look for veggie patties made from lentils at your local health food store to effortlessly swap out the chicken on Meatless Monday.

Can I eat lentils every day? ›

Most people can enjoy lentils as part of their regular diet without any concern. But lentils also contain natural compounds called anti-nutrients. These substances bind with nutrients like iron and zinc, making them harder for our bodies to absorb. Soaking and cooking lentils can help reduce this effect.

Can you reheat lentil curry twice? ›

In terms of food safety, however, so long as you reheat the food at the correct temperature and for the correct duration of time, it can in fact be safely reheated multiple times. However, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that food is only reheated once, so follow this guidance wherever possible.

How to tell if dal has gone bad? ›

Healthy chana dal usually has a solid feel, a warm, nutty smell, and a yellow-orange hue. If the dal looks dark, feels mushy, or has an off smell - think musty, moldy, or sharply sour - it's probably spoiled.

Why put yogurt in curry? ›

It's common practice in India to add yogurt to Indian cooking. People add it to curry to balance the spices and lighten the dish. It can also make thick curry, a thin. Hence, it can really elevate the flavors of the dish.

What kind of yogurt is best for curry? ›

Yogurt should be thick Greek yogurt which is not very sour. If you are not sure about yogurt use or afraid it will curdle.. Use half yogurt and half cream and mix it in last step after the curry is ready.

Should I drain canned lentils? ›

Do you rinse canned lentils? It is not necessary to rinse canned lentils before cooking, but you can rinse them by emptying them into a strainer and under cold water. This can help to remove some of the sodium content from the liquid around the beans.

Do you have to rinse canned lentils? ›

A common concern with canned lentils is the high sodium content used to preserve the lentils. The best way to deal with the issue of sodium is to be sure that you rinse your canned lentils under running water – this will remove up to 60 per cent of the sodium content.

What to pair with lentils? ›

If you have a few root vegetables hanging out in your fridge, those are also great with lentils, like in this warm lentil and root vegetable salad with parsnips and carrots. Lentils are particularly nice with cheese, as in this grilled halloumi and lentil salad.

Is dal and lentil the same? ›

Though often translated as lentils, dals are actually any split pulses (legumes). A pulse refers to the dry, edible seed of the pod. This includes beans, lentils, peas, and other little seeds in lentils or beans. So, any split legume is considered a dal in Indian culture.

What is lentil curry made of? ›

It's a gourmet-tasting yet weeknight-friendly meal that packs rich and decadent flavors into a simple one-pot recipe. Using pantry staples, like red lentils, coconut milk, aromatics, ground Indian spices, and almond butter, this hearty lentil curry comes together in a snap.

What does a dal curry mean? ›

Derived from the Sanskrit word that means “to split”, dal is a collective term for pulses—lentils, peas, and beans. While sometimes used in other dishes, these pulses are usually served slow-simmered into a soft, porridge-like dish that's also called dal.

Can I use lentils instead of dal? ›

Lentils for dal aren't interchangeable.

Lentils have different cooking times, density of texture and levels of nuttiness/sweetness.


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