Creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry

GFGluten Free

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This creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry is ready in 30 minutes and you only need 8 ingredients to make it! A cozy, hearty, and flavorful dinner.

Creamy coconut milk, protein-packed red lentils, and aromatic herbs and spices combine to create this comforting, satisfying, but totally-good-for-you Creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry. This red lentil curry recipe is packed with cozy spices and wholesome flavor, plus it’s naturally vegan and gluten-free!

The best part? It’s made with only 8 humble (and pantry-friendly!) ingredients, tastes amazing, and can be on your table in 30 minutes.

ingredients for coconut red lentil curry on round wood cutting board

INGREDIENTS + INSPIRATION

This vegan red lentil curry is inspired by Indian daal (a.k.a. dal or dahl), which is a very broad term for delicious, heavily-spiced curries made with split peas or lentils. While most daals use a variety of spices and whole seeds like cumin, coriander, and turmeric, I chose to use a store-bought curry powder for ease. If you’d like to get a little more traditional though, check out this Instant Pot Daal Tadka

When I first started making Indian recipes I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the spices – over time I’ve built up my spice cabinet, but initially I relied on simple recipes like this to satisfy my curry cravings. I wholeheartedly encourage you to delve into Indian Cuisine, but maybe this curry can serve as your “gateway drug” into more complex recipes 😉

And don’t get me wrong – this curry is made from simple, pantry-staple ingredients, but it still packs a mighty flavor punch! Not only are these ingredients simple, but they are also very budget-friendly and can be found in most grocery stores. You can typically find dried red lentils near the canned beans, or with the other bagged and dried pulses.

white pan of coconut curry red lentils with wooden spoon

HOW TO MAKE VEGAN RED LENTIL CURRY

This whole dish cooks in less than 30 minutes – meaning you have the perfect amount of time to cook up a pot of fluffy white rice to serve alongside it. If you’re looking for an even easier option, try serving this curry with some naan or roti for a totally fuss-free side!

  1. Sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, and cilantro together in a pan until fragrant and golden. 
  2. Add in some curry powder (and optional cayenne), red lentils, coconut milk, and vegetable broth.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until tender and creamy.

It really is that simple, friends! I like to save 2-3 tablespoons of coconut milk to drizzle over the curry just before I serve it. It looks fancy (but is secretly really easy), especially when paired with some freshly chopped cilantro. This is the perfect stick-to-your-ribs meal to serve on a chilly winter day, but it won’t weigh you down either.

large white pot of red lentil curry topped with coconut milk and cilantro

This Coconut & Red Lentil Curry is the perfect cool weather meal – it’s filling, cozy, and full of warming spices. It easy enough to serve for a quick weeknight dinner, but also impressive enough to serve to family and friends. It also reheats well, making it great for meal prep.

Is there anything this curry can’t do? So far I’m at a loss, but let me know if you find out…

pot of curry next to bowl of curry with rice and peas

COOKING TIPS + TROUBLESHOOTING:

  • Chop your ingredients finely. One of the great things about this curry is that it practically melts in your mouth…but that’s a hard feeling to achieve if your onion is in large chunks. Try your best to finely chop your vegetables, or use a food processor to pulse your veggies finely if you’re a little impatient!
  • Can I make this in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker? Yes! see the recipe notes below for my cooking recommendations
  • Is this curry spicy? The fresh ginger adds a bit of a kick, but I wouldn’t personally consider this curry to be too spicy. If you do love a little heat, you can add some chopped jalapeños or serrano peppers to the curry along with the ginger and garlic – again, see the recipe notes! 
  • Want to add extra veg? If you’re looking for a little extra green in your meal, try serving this Red Lentil Curry with some steamed or roasted vegetables, or you can also mix in some fresh spinach or mustard greens towards the end of cooking! I also like to toss a handful of frozen peas in with my rice for a pop of added color. Carrots, peppers, and potatoes would all work well here, if you wanted to toss them in with the lentils.
  • Can I use a different type of lentil? I strongly recommend using red lentils in this recipe, as they cook quickly and get nice and creamy as they break down. Yellow lentils or split peas will work as well if they are split – I wouldn’t use brown lentils, though.

Bowl of coconut red lentil curry with rice and cilantro

If you’re looking for more cozy and simple recipes, you’ll also love this Sweet Potato & Lentil Soup, this One Pot Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff and this “Cheesy” Broccoli Rice Casserole!

Finally, if you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I love seeing your delicious recreations 🙂

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Creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry

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4.9 from 37 reviews

This creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry is ready in 30 minutes and you only need 8 ingredients to make it! A cozy, hearty, and flavorful dinner.

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 7 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 23 Minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, finely minced 
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped; stems and leaves divided
  • 1 tablespoon salt-free curry powder 
  • ¼½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1½ cups (309g) dry red lentils
  • 1 13.5 ounce (398 ml) can full-fat coconut milk 
  • 2 cups (470 ml) low-sodium vegetable broth + 2 cups water 
  • Serving suggestions: cooked basmati or jasmine rice, naan or roti

Instructions

  1. Bring a large saucepan to medium heat and add a splash of vegetable broth or neutral cooking oil. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, and chopped cilantro stems to the pan and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes, then stir in the curry powder and cook for an additional minute. Rinse the lentils briefly, then add them to the saucepan with the coconut milk and vegetable broth and stir to combine. 
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking and flavor distribution.
  4. Serve warm with rice, or as desired; leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or can be frozen for up to one month.

Notes

  • Instant Pot Instructions: select the “Sauté” setting on your pressure cooker and follow steps 1-2 as written. After you add the lentils and liquids, press “Cancel” to stop sauteeing and seal the Instant Pot with the lid. Cook on manual high-pressure for 4 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes before covering the vent with a kitchen towel and manually releasing the remaining pressure.
  • Add-ins and Variations: this recipe is a great “base” for a lot of add-ins, like spicy peppers, carrots, potatoes, spinach, and mustard greens. I recommend adding the veggies along with the garlic and ginger in step 2, and stirring in any fresh greens just before the curry finishes simmering.

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10/2021: The blog post text has been updated, but the recipe remains the same.

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

    1. Hey there! Yes 2 cups of broth + 2 cups of water. Were you using dry (uncooked, not canned) lentils?

      1. I loved this recipe. I just added some salt and like Chrissy Lake I thought 4 cups of liquid would be too much so I just added 2 cups of vegetable stock and skipped the 2 cups of water; they came out wonderful! I’m very excited to try more recipes and I’ll definitely make this one again. ????






      2. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that added 2 cups of broth and no water (I actually skim read and missed that part) it actually was perfect! I would like to add at least a cup for next time to see if I can get it more smoother and add in some pepper (I need that in mine). I did include potatoes but wished I added carrots so I will have more fun with it next time. Great flavoursome recipe.

      3. Hi
        I added two cups of broth and two of water and it’s also like soup. Are you all handing the water quantities?
        Lentils are dried

        Thanks.

      4. If you like a thicker curry, you can reduce or omit the water. Or if it’s too runny, simmer it for a few extra minutes and it will thicken up 🙂

      5. I encountered the same thing, was more soupy and the water lost the taste. I added 2 tsp of vegan chicken soup base to bring the flavor back up. Even though it was more like a soup, was delicious! I served in a bowl over quinoa and roasted butternut squash. Next time will just stick to the 2 or 3 cups of veg broth 😋

  1. I know it will change the flavor but could I swap for another non-dairy milk? Almond or oat? I’m out of coconut milk!

    1. The biggest issue is that the coconut milk we use is full fat meaning it is quite creamy, not very thin. Do a google image search to see what I mean! I wouldn’t substitute it for a curry like this.

  2. This is really delicious. I added some frozen peas near the end of cooking to add some veggies. I will definitely make it again.






  3. I’m cooking this as we speak….I’ve roasted some cauliflower and aubergine with cumin and tumeric to add in, green beans for added colour. Smells immense…

  4. Added carrots, celery and mushrooms. Also a tin of diced tomatoes (I reduced the added water by half a cup to compensate for the water in the tomato tin. Also added paprika because paprika is awesome.






  5. Hi, I’m going to make this tonight. Really stupid question and I am pretty sure of the answer, but would you be able to freeze half of it to have another day? Thanks Emma

    1. Hey there! Not a stupid question! Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or can be frozen for up to one month.

  6. I am going to try this recipe next week but if I wanted to add potatoes, when would I add them in? Should I cook them before and add them in at the end or can I cook them with the lentils?

  7. I loved this recipe. I just added some salt and used rice noodles instead of rice because I like them. I also added some broccoli as my green because that was what I had in my fridge. I’m very excited to try more recipes and I’ll definitely make this one again. 🙂






  8. Can’t wait to try this recipe soon, would you happed to know the nutrition information for this?? Thanks

    1. Let us know what you think! We don’t calculate any of the nutritional info on the recipes but there are some online calculators that can help.

  9. Hello Caitlyn, this is my favorite meal prep recipe. I am on a regime, do you know how many calories this dish has perserving? And what is the serving? I would be so thankful i really make this a lot and its my favorite.

    1. The entire recipe is 4-6 servings. We don’t actually do any calorie or nutritional calculations – BUT there are quite a few online tools that will help you figure out those details by plugging in the ingredients!

  10. This recipe was so simple and delicious! I ate this with sautéed kale and rice. I also swapped the full fat coconut milk for reduced fat and it was still flavorful and creamy. I think a dash of maple syrup would be awesome in this – I love a little sweet note in my curries! Next time, I think I will add potatoes and some more veggies to bulk up the meal a little more. This is a new staple for sure!






  11. Hi Caitlin! Just wanted to say that discovering your blog was an absolute highlight of our day yesterday! My husband and I absolutely loved making this curry dish and it will definitely be part of our meals regularly now. Having become “accidental vegetarians” this year (somehow just lost the taste for meat at some point), we’ll be trying loads of your other recipes. Really love your style too – you just get straight into the recipe and things to take note of instead of turning it into a War and Peace-length article. Concise and easy to make dishes – winning combo. Keep up the amazing work!






  12. Looks awesome! I am going to try it tonight but am I able to swap green lentils for red? The store didnt have red and it’s a monsoon here today on cape cod!

    1. Thank you! Green lentils will be a little more earthy in flavor and they tend to stay pretty firm. It can be a matter of preference, we find red lentils to be a little more approachable sometimes since they’re a little more neutral.

  13. Hi, it’s not entirely clear to me when to add the water- is that when I add the vegetable broth? Love your recipes!!

  14. I can’t wait to try this! What other spices do you put think would complement this dish? I’m thinking cinnamon or more garlic naan.

  15. So delicious as always, Caitlin! I added broccoli into the pot toward the end of cooking to add some more veggies, and it turned out great!! Thanks for all your hard work Caitlin ????






  16. Blog comment

    Hi Caitlin!

    I am swooning over here. Simple and tasty. I am pleased to say this curry is going to become a stable for me and will be great for meal prep.

    Also, Instead of using the stove top, I used my pressure cooker. I still followed the same instructions, making sure to utilize my sauté feature. Everything came out wonderfully.

    Thanks for sharing!






  17. This recipe sounds yummi, I want to try it, but have a stupid question, are the lentils pre soaked or cooked, or just off the pack?

      1. This recipe doesn’t use nutritional yeast, but depending on the recipe you can either omit it or use something like soy sauce (again, depending on the recipe).

      2. Looks great.. l think its better to cook it longer as the lentils are a better texture also to add coconut milk straight in the pot at the end of cooking..to make sure it’s creamy all the way through.. sweet potatoes go amazingly in this one. And some lovely warm naan bread to serve with. ????






      3. I’m looking forward to making and eating this tomorrow! Being Vegan has changed my life, thanks for helping! 🙂