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+ servings

Lentil Curry

This lentil curry recipe is sensationally delicious, ridiculously easy and will satisfy even your toughest critic! It’s loaded with exotic spices, tender lentils, sweet potatoes, carrots, bell peppers and cauliflower all simmered with crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes and creamy coconut milk. The emerging coconut lentil curry is unabashedly flavorful and layered with both indulgently creamy and hearty textures that will make your taste buds swoon. This lentil curry recipe is made with easy to find ingredients, versatile veggies and takes less than an hour from start to finish, and most of that time is hands off simmering! It also makes fabulous leftovers to meal prep or freeze. Serve this lentil curry over rice, cauliflower rice, zoodles, etc. with Greek yogurt and naan and prepare for restaurant delicious lentil curry!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped into 1/2” pieces
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4-6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp EACH ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp EACH turmeric, pepper
  • 1/4 tsp EACH ground cinnamon, nutmeg
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 cup dried green or brown lentils
  • 1 13.5 oz. can quality coconut milk I like Chaokoh
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth may sub vegetarian broth
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar plus more to taste


  • 2 cups 1/2-inch" cubed, peeled, sweet potatoes
  • 3 cups cauliflower chopped into small bite size pieces
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro


  • fresh cilantro
  • plain yogurt don’t skip!
  • basmati rice


  • Melt butter in oil in a 4.5 Dutch oven (or larger) over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and cook for 6 minutes. Add bell peppers, ginger, garlic and all spices/seasonings (up to tomatoes) and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in all remaining ingredients up to "add later.” Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a gentle simmer over low. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through and recovering the pot. After 15 minutes, stir in sweet potatoes, cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  • Add the cauliflower and simmer, UNCOVERED, for an additional 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, OR until the lentils and potatoes are tender and the curry is thick and creamy. If the curry is too thick, add some broth, if the curry is too thin, continue to simmer uncovered until thickened.
  • Stir in the cilantro. Taste and season with additional salt, cayenne or sugar to taste (I like 1/4 tsp more salt and 1/2 tsp more sugar). Serve over basmati rice with a dollop of yogurt.


Tips and Tricks

  • Use dried green or brown lentils: so your lentil curry doesn’t turn into mush.  If you want to use red or yellow lentils, see post for cooking times.
  • Don’t soak the lentils:  simply rinse the lentils to remove any dust or debris then use directly in the recipe. If you soak them first, the cooking time and liquid ratio will be off.
  • Lentil cooking times: note that the age of lentils will affect their cook times.  Old lentils will require more time to cook; newer lentils will require less time to cook.  Very old dried lentils can even take double the cook time!  So, don’t be alarmed if your lentils aren’t cooked in the allotted time. Simply add additional water or broth as needed until the lentils are tender.
  • Coconut milk: use full fat coconut milk for the most luxuriously creamy lentil curry Chaokoh is the best!  If you use light coconut milk, mix it with 1 tablespoon cornstarch.  Light coconut milk won’t be quite as flavorful or creamy, so please adjust your expectations.
  • Powdered ginger and garlic: if you don’t have fresh ginger and garlic on hand and need to make this lentil curry NOW (I get you), you may substitute with powders.  Use 1 tsp each and add with curry powder.
  • Crushed tomatoes: If you can only find a 28 oz. can, use roughly half the can and freeze the rest.
  • Diced tomatoes: If you can’t find fire roasted diced tomatoes, then traditional diced tomatoes work just fine.
  • Measure out the spices: while you’re sautéing the onions so you don’t have to pause and measure out each spice when the recipe calls for them.
  • Adjust acidity: add additional sugar as needed to cut through the acidity.  You may need additional sugar if you use regular diced tomatoes instead of fire roasted diced tomatoes.
  • Recipe variations: see post for ideas.
  • Make ahead/meal prep:  this coconut lentil curry tastes even better the next day as the flavors have time to build and meld which makes it fabulous for meal prep or on-the- go lunches.  For meal prep lunches, simply divide the curry between airtight containers along with rice, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. I like to put the rice on top of the curry so it stays fresh.


  • Storage:  lentil curry should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When stored properly, it is good for up to five days.
  • Freeze:  transfer lentil curry to an airtight container or freezer bag and squeeze out excess air; freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating per directions.
  • Microwave: transfer small portions to a microwave safe dish, heat for one minute, stir then continue to heat at 30 second intervals. 
  • Stove: for larger portions, rewarm gently in a large skillet, stirring often.  You can microwave the rice as you’re warming the lentil curry on the stove.


You can prep all of the ingredients ahead of time so you can get right to cooking this lentil curry:
  • Mix the spices together and store in an airtight container/bag.
  • Chop the onions and carrots and store together in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Chopped red bell peppers, ginger and garlic can all be stored in the same airtight container in the refrigerator. 
  • Peel and chop the sweet potatoes and place in a bowl submerged with cold water in the refrigerator to prevent browning due to oxidation.
  • Chop the cauliflower and store in a separate airtight container.
  • Within the next 48 hours, proceed with the recipe without any of the prep!