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Coconut Black Lentil Curry is a creamy and crazy delicious black lentil recipe. Using coconut milk instead of heavy cream keeps this buttery dal makhani dairy free without losing any of the richness you crave.
I've got more lentils coming your way!!
You guys, you've completely surprised me. If you had asked me a year ago what the most popular recipes on this blog would have been, I NEVER would have guessed lentil recipes. I love lentils, but I thought I might have been the only one. My only regret is not finding out sooner that you love lentils as much as I do.
There was always these thoughts in my head that went something like this:
Lentils are soft and creamy and delicious. They're also brown. They're mushy. They're kinda weird. They're not exactly food blog raving material. Except … it turns out they totally are.
This time, I've made us a black lentil recipe called coconut black lentil curry. It's rich and creamy, just like the dal makhani from your fav Indian restaurant. The only difference is that this black lentil curry is made with coconut oil and milk instead of the usual loads of butter and heavy cream.
I'd be lying to you if I said it tasted exactly like regular dal makhani. Coconut milk has a strong flavor, and it comes out in the curry. There is no way around that, and it's not a bad thing.
All my attempts to try and make this authentic tasting without the cream failed. While black urad lentils are very creamy on their own, they lacked the intense creaminess I was looking for. Adding coconut milk gave the richness I was looking for but did change the flavor. I think the flavor change is for the better.
This curry is made using urad lentils, which are a little different than the red, brown, or green lentils you are probably accustomed to. They look like tiny black beans and can be found online or in the Indian section of well-stocked supermarkets.
What is awesome about them is that they don't break down and turn to mush like other lentils. While they cook in about a half hour, they can keep cooking for hours without falling apart. They're very forgiving.
Whole black urad lentils are also much creamier than other lentils, which makes them perfect for curries. When you're looking for them, you may find that they are called Sabut Urad dal, Kaali dal, or Black Gram. So many aliases! 🙂
Popular Lentil Recipes
- Lentil Curry
- Coconut Red Lentil Peanut Soup
- Lentil Bolognese
- Crockpot Coconut Lentil Curry
- Tomato Lentil Soup
- 1 cup dried whole urad dal (black lentils)
- ¼ cup dried black chickpeas (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 large onion (finely minced)
- 2 inch piece ginger (finely minced)
- 4 cloves garlic (finely minced)
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds and ground coriander
- 3 medium tomatoes (finely chopped)
- 1 teaspoon EACH: garam masala and curry powder
- ½ teaspoon EACH: turmeric and chili powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 15 ounce can coconut milk
- Place the urad dal and black chickpeas in a pot and cover with a few inches of water. Set aside to soak for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.1 cup dried whole urad dal, ¼ cup dried black chickpeas
- Drain the water from the pot and add fresh water. Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover the pot, and let it cook until the chickpeas are soft, about 1 hour. Drain and rinse.
- Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Add the cumin seeds and coriander to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until the oil begins to glisten, about 5 minutes.1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 large onion, 2 inch piece ginger, 4 cloves garlic, 2 teaspoons cumin seeds and ground coriander, 3 medium tomatoes
- Add 1 cup of water, the garam masala, curry powder, turmeric, chili powder, salt, and the cooked urad lentils and black chickpeas to the pan and stir. Bring the pot to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.1 teaspoon EACH: garam masala and curry powder, ½ teaspoon EACH: turmeric and chili powder, 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Using the back of a spoon, mash a few of the lentils. Stir in the coconut milk and heat through. Taste and add more salt if you'd like.15 ounce can coconut milk
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.