coconut lentil curry in a bowl

Coconut Lentil Curry

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This coconut lentil curry recipe is a hearty, vegan recipe. It’s got wonderful flavors and spices. It’s so easy to make – it just requires a little time to simmer and bring the flavors together.

Why You’ll Love this Coconut Lentil Curry

Lentils are incredibly filling and good for you – they’re a nutrient dense food that’s low in calories and an excellent source of protein. This curry is creamy because it has a whole can of coconut milk in it.

This recipe has great flavor from layering several different spices. Adding the spices to the onions and garlic before any of the other ingredients allows the flavors to bloom, so we get deeper flavors out of the dry spices.

This recipe does closely resemble an Indian dhal or dal – a term used in South Asia for dishes with pulses like lentils and beans. Dhal is usually a combination of pulses, tomato, and spices. Dhal is often served with flatbread like naan or with rice.

Curry on the other hand is more heavily spiced and sometimes has vegetables or meat added. Curry, as a word, can mean both a spice blend and a term used to refer to a South Asian sauce or gravy dish. The spices used in this recipe are a fairly standard curry blend – curry powder often has a mixture of turmeric, cumin, ginger, coriander, and black pepper.


Ingredients for Lentil Curry

Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe (it looks like a lot, but it’s mostly spices!)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans brown lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 3 cups loosely packed baby spinach
  • optional – sliced cherry tomatoes and cilantro for serving


How to Make this Vegan Lentil Curry

This curry is easy to make, especially since we’re using pre-cooked lentils. It does take a little while to simmer, but it’s largely hands-off.

  1. Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium high heat. 
  2. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and stir. Allow to cook for 3 minutes or until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring often. 
  3. Add the salt, turmeric, cumin, garam masala, paprika, coriander, pepper, and ginger. Stir continuously for 30 seconds. 
  4. Add the lentils and tomatoes to the pot. Stir to combine and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. 
  5. Then add the coconut milk and stir till fully combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, or until the curry is reduced. 
  6. Turn off the heat. Add the spinach and stir till it has wilted. 
  7. Optional – Serve with rice or flatbread and top with tomatoes and cilantro. 


coconut lentil curry in a bowl

More Vegan Dinner Recipes You’ll Love


Tips for Making Coconut Lentil Curry

  • This recipe is versatile – you can add more vegetables if you’d like (potatoes or carrots would be nice!), you can use other greens besides spinach (chard would be excellent), and you can add other spices (chili powder or cayenne if you like spicier food).
  • As with any recipe like this, you want to use high-quality, fresh spices. I often run out of curry powder, turmeric, and cumin every few months, but for the spices I don’t quite use up each year – I make a point to replace them. Dry spices can lose their flavor, so make sure to check the dates on them and replace them if they’re over a year or two old.
  • If your curry isn’t thick enough, just let it simmer on the stove for a bit longer. It will cook down. Also, remember that once it cools off it will get a bit thicker.
  • This is a curry-in-a-hurry recipe because we are using pre-cooked lentils. I always use the Westbrae organic lentils for this recipe.
  • This recipe will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days and will freeze for up to 6 months.

Let us know if you make this coconut lentil curry recipe – you can tag us on Instagram @thishealthytable.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Coconut Lentil Curry

coconut lentil curry in a bowl

This coconut lentil curry is ready in 30 minutes and tastes amazing! Serve it alongside rice or naan for a delicious, plant-based dinner.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans brown lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 3 cups loosely packed baby spinach
  • optional - sliced cherry tomatoes and cilantro for serving

Instructions

  1. Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. 
  2. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and stir. Allow to cook for 3 minutes or until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring often. 
  3. Add the salt, turmeric, cumin, garam masala, paprika, coriander, pepper, and ginger. Stir continuously for 30 seconds. 
  4. Add the lentils and tomatoes to the pot. Stir to combine and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. 
  5. Then add the coconut milk and stir till fully combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, or until the curry is reduced. 
  6. Turn off the heat. Add the spinach and stir till it has wilted. 
  7. Optional - Serve with rice or flatbread and top with tomatoes and cilantro. 

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 242Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1145mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 6gSugar: 4gProtein: 8g

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