This ridiculously easy vegan coconut lentil curry is a delicious and hearty dish that is perfect for a cozy night in. Made with lentils and a variety of vegetables simmered in a fragrant Indian curry sauce made from coconut milk and a variety of delicious spices, it’s packed with flavour and nutrition. This curry is so easy to make and is totally fool-proof.
It can be enjoyed on its own or served over rice or quinoa for a complete meal. It really is perfect for a weeknight dinner or a weekend meal and it’s sure to be a hit with everyone at the table.
Plant Based Proteins (They’re Important!)
As somebody who consumes a vegan plant based diet, I try to include a range of plant based protein sources into my diet.
Not only are lentils an excellent source of protein, they’re also high in fibre and some B vitamins. Other sources of plant based protein to experiment with include chickpeas, nuts and seeds, tempeh, seitan, and meat substitutes. I’d seriously recommend trying it with tempeh though (I love this one!)
What is Lentil Curry Made Of?
My coconut lentil curry is primarily made from red split lentils, onion, garlic, coconut milk, curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, tomato puree, brown sugar, salt, rice, coriander, lime and mango chutney
Below is a breakdown of each ingredient and why they make this recipe so great (both in terms of flavour AND nutrition):
Red split lentils: Lentils are high in protein, fibre, and iron. They are also a good source of folate, magnesium, and potassium. Red split lentils cook quickly and have a creamy texture that makes them perfect for curries.
Onion: Onion adds flavour and texture to the curry. It is also a good source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fibre.
Garlic: Garlic is a natural antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a good source of vitamin C and vitamin B6.
Coconut milk: Coconut milk adds a creamy and rich texture to the curry. It is also high in healthy fats, fibre, and essential vitamins and minerals.
Curry powder: Curry powder is a blend of different spices such as coriander, cumin, turmeric, and fenugreek. It adds flavour, aroma, and colour to the curry.
Garam masala: Garam masala is a blend of different spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg. It adds warmth and depth to the curry.
Turmeric: Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It also adds a vibrant colour to the curry.
Cumin: Cumin adds a nutty and earthy flavour to the curry. It is also a good source of iron, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
Cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper adds heat and spice to the curry. It also has anti-inflammatory and metabolism-boosting properties.
Tomato puree: Tomato puree adds acidity and sweetness to the curry. It is also a good source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and lycopene.
Brown sugar: Brown sugar adds sweetness and balances the flavours in the curry.
Salt: Salt enhances the flavours in the curry.
Rice: Rice is a staple food that is high in carbohydrates and provides energy to the body.
Coriander: Coriander adds freshness and a citrusy flavour to the curry. It is also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and antioxidants.
Lime: Lime adds acidity and freshness to the curry. It is also a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants.
Mango chutney: Mango chutney adds sweetness, tanginess, and texture to the curry. It is also a good source of fibre, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
How To Serve the Coconut Lentil Curry
This Coconut Lentil Curry is so fragrant and creamy, I don’t find it needs much in the way of accompaniments.
I love to serve it simply with fluffy basmati rice and fresh coriander. However, you could also enjoy it with naan bread, chapatis, poppadoms or mango chutney!
Is Lentil Curry Good for You?
Yes, lentil curry can be good for you, as it contains a number of nutrients that are beneficial for your health. Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein, fibre, iron, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Additionally, the spices used in curry, such as turmeric, cumin, and coriander, have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Why Do You Put Coconut Milk in Curry?
Coconut milk is often used in lentil curry because it adds a rich, creamy texture and a slightly sweet, nutty flavour to the dish. It also helps to balance the spiciness of the curry and can help to cool the palate.
In addition to its culinary benefits, coconut milk also has some nutritional benefits. It is a good source of healthy fats, which can help to reduce inflammation in the body and support brain health. It also contains vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium.
However, it’s important to note that coconut milk is relatively high in calories and saturated fat. So if you’re watching your calorie or fat intake, you may want to use it in moderation or opt for a lighter alternative, such as almond milk or low-fat dairy milk.
How Do I Add Coconut Milk to Curry Without Curdling?
Coconut milk can sometimes curdle when added to a hot curry, especially if it’s a low-fat or reduced-fat variety. Here are some tips to help you add coconut milk to your curry without it curdling:
Use full-fat coconut milk: Full-fat coconut milk is less likely to curdle than reduced-fat or low-fat varieties. This is because the higher fat content helps to stabilise the milk and prevent separation.
Add the coconut milk gradually: Don’t add all the coconut milk at once. Instead, add it slowly, stirring constantly, and allow it to heat up gradually.
Reduce the heat: Reduce the heat to low before adding the coconut milk. This will help to prevent the milk from boiling and curdling.
Avoid over-stirring: While stirring is important to distribute the coconut milk evenly, over-stirring can cause it to curdle. So, stir gently and as little as possible.
Use room temperature coconut milk: If the coconut milk is cold, let it come to room temperature before adding it to the hot curry. This can help to prevent curdling.
Can You Freeze Lentil Curry?
Yes, you can freeze lentil curry. To freeze lentil curry, allow it to cool to room temperature and transfer it to an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag. Be sure to label the container with the date and contents. Coconut lentil curry can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to reheat the frozen coconut lentil curry, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Then, heat it on the stovetop or in the microwave until it’s heated through. If the curry is too thick, you can add a little bit of water or broth to thin it out. Stir the curry occasionally while reheating to ensure that it heats evenly. The coconut milk in the curry may separate when frozen, but this is normal and can be easily mixed back in while reheating.
Here’s How to Make Lentil Curry (with Coconut)
If you’re going to make this delicious coconut lentil curry, you’ll need the following ingredients…
- Coconut Oil or Olive Oil (2 tbsp): This is the cooking fat used to sauté the onions, garlic, and spices. Both coconut oil and olive oil provide healthy fats and add flavor to the curry.
- Red Split Lentils (1 Cup): Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein and dietary fiber. Red split lentils cook relatively quickly and tend to break down, contributing to the thickening of the curry.
- Brown or White Onion (1 Large, chopped): Onions are a common base for many curries, adding flavor, texture, and sweetness as they cook down.
- Garlic (4 Cloves, crushed): Garlic adds a pungent and savory flavor to the curry. It’s a staple in many curry recipes.
- Full-Fat Coconut Milk (1 Tin, 400ml): Coconut milk provides richness, creaminess, and a distinct coconut flavor to the curry. It balances the spices and can also help tone down any heat.
- Curry Powder (3 tsp): A blend of various spices that typically includes coriander, cumin, turmeric, and other flavorful ingredients. It gives the curry its characteristic curry flavor and color.
- Garam Masala (1.5 tsp): Garam masala is a spice blend that adds warmth and depth to the curry. It’s often used towards the end of cooking to preserve its aromatic qualities.
- Turmeric (1/2 tsp): Turmeric is known for its vibrant yellow color and provides an earthy flavor. It also has potential health benefits due to its active compound, curcumin.
- Cumin (1/2 tsp): Cumin has a warm and nutty flavor, adding a distinctive taste to the curry.
- Cayenne Pepper (Pinch): Cayenne pepper adds spiciness to the curry. Use a pinch to add a subtle heat or adjust according to your preference.
- Tomato Puree (3 tbsp): Tomato puree adds acidity, depth, and a slightly tangy flavor to the curry.
- Brown Sugar (3 tsp): Brown sugar adds sweetness and can help balance out the flavors and spices in the curry.
- Salt (Pinch): Salt enhances the overall flavor profile of the curry and helps bring out the other spices and ingredients.
- Cooked Basmati Rice: Basmati rice is a fragrant and long-grain rice that serves as a common accompaniment to curries. It complements the curry’s flavors and provides a source of carbohydrates.
- Fresh Coriander (Cilantro) to Garnish: Fresh coriander adds a burst of freshness and a bright flavor to the dish. It’s often used as a garnish in many Indian dishes.
- Lime Juice (Juice from 1 Lime, optional): Lime juice can add a tangy and citrusy element to the curry, enhancing the overall taste. It’s an optional addition based on personal preference.
- Mango Chutney (for serving, optional): Mango chutney is a sweet and tangy condiment that can provide a contrast of flavors when served alongside the curry. It’s also optional and customizable.
Easy Vegan Coconut Lentil Curry (Gluten Free)
- 2 tbsp Coconut Oil or olive oil
- 1 Cup Red Split Lentils
- 1 Large Brown or White Onion chopped
- 4 Cloves Garlic crushed
- 1 Tin Full-Fat Coconut Milk (400ml)
- 3 tsp Curry Powder
- 1.5 tsp Garam Masala
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1 Pinch Cayenne Pepper
- 3 tbsp Tomato Puree
- 3 tsp Brown Sugar
- 1 Pinch Salt
- Cooked Basmati Rice
- Fresh Coriander to garnish
- Juice from 1 Lime for serving – optional
- Mango Chutney for serving – optional
- Boil the lentils for around 10 minutes until tender
- Once cooked, drain and set aside
The Coconut Curry
- In the meantime heat up the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat
- Once hot, add in the chopped onion and garlic and sauté for approximately 5 minutes
- Add in all the spices then stir and cook for a further minute
- Pour in the coconut milk, tomato puree, sugar and salt
- Stir and bring to a boil before reducing the heat and simmering for 5-10 minutes
- Mix in the boiled lentils and continue to cook for a further 5-10 minutes
- Taste and add more salt if needed
- Serve with cooked basmati rice, fresh coriander and mango chutney
Are Red Lentils Gluten Free?
Yes, red lentils are naturally gluten-free. Lentils are a type of legume and do not contain gluten. However, it’s always important to check the labels of any packaged or processed lentil products to make sure they are not cross-contaminated with gluten during processing.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (About this Coconut Lentil Curry)
Can I use a different type of lentil for this recipe?
Red split lentils work best in this recipe because they cook quickly and have a creamy texture when cooked. However, you can also use green or brown lentils (but they will take longer to cook and may not have the same creamy texture)
Could I use a different type of oil for this recipe?
Coconut oil gives this recipe a nice coconut flavour; but if you don’t have it or prefer a different flavour, olive oil could be used as a substitute.
Can I use light coconut milk instead of full-fat coconut milk?
Full-fat coconut milk will give the curry a creamier texture and a richer flavour. Light coconut milk may not provide the same consistency or flavour. But, why not try it and see what you think?
Can I use fresh ginger instead of garlic?
Absolutely you can use fresh ginger in place of garlic (or, perhaps even add both for extra flavour…?)
Can I skip the brown sugar?
The brown sugar really helps balance the flavours of the spices, but if you prefer a less sweet curry, you can simply omit it (or reduce the amount).
Is it necessary to garnish with coriander?
Coriander adds a fresh and fragrant touch to the curry, but it’s not necessary. I know a lot of people find the taste quite ‘soapy’ (but I personally love it!). You could also try mint or parsley to garnish instead.
Can I serve it with something else other than rice?
Absolutely! You can serve it with other grains like quinoa, or perhaps a naan bread!
Can I add vegetables to this recipe?
Yes, you can add vegetables! Maybe try adding bell peppers, carrots, or cauliflower to the curry to make it more filling.
Can I Freeze Lentil Curry?
Sure! Check out this article here for tips on how to freeze and store!
How Long Do Lentils Last?
Check out this article I wrote about lentils! It’s incredibly interesting…….