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 🙂

Print

Creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry

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.

Keywords: Red lentil curry, vegan curry, vegan red lentil curry, red lentil recipes, red lentil coconut curry, vegan coconut curry, coconut indian curry, easy coconut curry, easy vegan curry

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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. This recipe is on a regular rotation in my house. It’s absolutely delicious. Well balanced and super tasty. I love it the next day too as a quick lunch on crunchy lettuce leaves or in a tortilla with a sprinkle of chilli, lime and coriander.

  2. Hi Caitlin !

    A big thank you for this amazing recipe !!! It’s by far the best red lentil curry I ever had ! Soooooo creamy, tasty and satisfaying, especially with this cold weather… I loved the fact that it was also realy easy to make. This recipe is perfect for meal prep too ! For me, it’s the perfect fall/winter dish with its cosy vibes and warm taste !
    Thank you again for this recipe that brighted up my dinners this past week !
    Take care

    1. You’re always welcome, Alix! Thank you for taking the time to leave a feedback. It’s much appreciated. ❤️

  3. This was delicious! I improvised a bit since I did not have all ingredients. Used garlic powder and dried ginger instead of fresh, and used 4C veg broth instead of the broth/water mix because I wanted to use up the broth I had. I served it over rice and broccoli. Made a huge batch. Will enjoy this for my lunches this week. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. You’re welcome, Kathleen! I loved how you improvised with what you had and still turned out amazing! ♥

  4. Great recipe. Made it with my family last week. Gonna be making it again today for my grad school roommates. Top notch stuff.

  5. Super easy and delicious! My go to recipe for coconut curry. Was wondering if this dish ends up being pretty thick or more of a soup consistency once it’s finished cooking?

  6. I’ve made this several times and it’s a big hit, and always enough to share with friends. My version adds a litttle garam masala, a dollop of Saucy Susan duck sauce, and a squeeze of lemon at the end. Just amazing! Thank you for this recipe.

  7. Deceptively amazing.

    Made with some homemade veggie broth, coconut cream instead of coconut milk (and went heavy on it) , and added chopped carrots plus bell peppers and about a tablespoon of salt. I’ve made it twice just this month! That pretty much says it all.

  8. I Love this CREAMY COCONUT & RED LENTIL CURRY recipe. I’ve made my own version numerous times. The Cilantro Stems make a huge difference, I’ve made it with and without them. It’s so much better with them. I made the best version today. I used a can of Native Forest Unsweetened Organic Coconut Milk with Curry and Hot Jamaican Curry Powder. I also used two cups of homemade Mushroom broth and vegetable broth. It was so incredibly delicious and spicy. This will be the only way I make it from now on. I’m going to post pictures on Instagram and Facebook later. I’ll be sure to tag you. Thanks so much.

  9. Easy and delicious!! To really make it special, add 2 tbsp. of squeezed lemon juice toward the end of the cooking along with a little salt to bring out the flavors….. thank you so much!!!

  10. Great recipe. I didn’t find that I needed to add the water. I did use red lentils that I rinsed. I also added a sweet potato and some peas. It’s delish!

    1. It doesn’t need to be very exact. Especially if you like cilantro! If you need a starting place, a half of a bunch is about 3/4 of a cup of loose cilantro.

  11. Have made this recipe twice during lockdown. Find it great for using cupboard staples. Added mushrooms the first time and today I added a pepper and courgette with the onion. So delicious. Can’t wait to have it again. Thank you for the recipe.

  12. Hi, this sounds amazing but I have no curry powder on hand, have you tried it with any (thai) curry paste? I have red, green and yellow curry pastes at home lol

    1. -Hey! We haven’t tried with paste – but given the current state I would imagine using paste should be fine!

    1. In a pinch you could swap them out, they do have different characteristics so if you ever get some red lentils I’d encourage trying it out to see which one you prefer!

  13. Amazing so flavourful I added more spice and I loved the cilantro! Yum will definitely make again!

  14. Made this tonight, I used chicken broth because that’s what we had in our home. Also added carrots, potatoes, extra garlic and an extra cup of water. My new go to curry recipe! Thank you!

  15. Made this tonight and it turned out great. I’ve not done a recipe before that had me use the cilantro stems in the cooking and leave out the leaves until serving. Awesome recipe, thank you for sharing.

    1. The leaves are great for garnishing but the stems still hold just as much flavor! Thanks so much!