Creamy Coconut Lentil Curry
This easy to make Creamy Coconut Lentil Curry is a healthy vegan recipe that makes a perfect meatless Monday dinner recipe. It takes less than an hour (mostly hands-off time) to make and is packed full of delicious Indian flavors. Make extras and you'll have a giant smile on your face at lunch the next day.
Complete the meal with some perfect basmati rice or cauliflower rice. And if you love vegetarian curry recipes, also try our coconut vegetarian korma!
It's July! It's summer! It's the season of BBQ and no cook recipes! And here I am, sharing a coconut lentil curry recipe with you. Say what!!
You guys, this is what badass curry dreams are made of. For reals. I'm talking one pot and less than an hour till you're in coconut lentil curry HEAVEN!
I don't care how hot it is outside, it's always a good time for a bowl of hot curry. I mean, it's stinkin' hot in India and peeps eat curry there all the time. They must be onto something.
When I was doing the whole right of passage, backpacking around Asia thing in my early 20s, locals would always tell me that eating hot food on a hot day would cool you down. Makes no sense to me at all, but if you put a bowl of hot curry in front of me and it's a bazillion degrees outside, I'll still eat it. I mean really, how could you not?
This coconut lentil curry recipe is ridiculously simple to make. Five bucks says you're going to look at the recipe and think, “No way THIS recipe could be one of the BEST curry recipes.” But it is. For reals.
It's so simple to make that I made you a video so you can see just how easy it will be for you to sit down in front of a big bowl of curry.
Watch the Creamy Coconut Lentil Curry Video:
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The original recipe comes from a well dog-eared cookbook of mine called, Vij's at Home. I've made some changes to the original recipe so it suits my taste:
- Coconut oil replaces the cooking oil (and I use MUCH less of it)
- Coriander seeds replace ground coriander as I love the little pop of crunch they give.
- Crushed tomatoes replace fresh tomatoes (so I can be lazy and not blend them)
- Harder to find mung beans take a hike and are replaced with brown lentils
- Cilantro gets piled on high.
- Cherry tomatoes get thrown in during the last few minutes of cooking (because heck, why not?)
Since I originally posted this recipe, I've now made it around 324,000 times. That might be a little exaggeration, but I have made it many times. My daughter is a huge fan of this lentil curry, so I usually make a double batch and then freeze some in smaller portions so I have some quick and easy food for her on hand.
Making a big batch also means that we get lunches for days after. Curry is kind of like chili, it's even better the next day. Honestly, every time I make this I get a text from my handsome man the next day telling me how good his lunch is. Win!
Also, after getting several requests, I've now created a Crockpot Coconut Lentil Curry recipe for you! While the original version still wins (in my books) the crockpot version is delicious and so great to come home to after a long day at work. 🙂
Healthy Vegan Curry Recipes
- Black Chana Masala
- Crock Pot Coconut Lentil Curry
- Coconut Black Lentil Curry
- Chickpea Tofu and Eggplant Curry
- Coconut Acorn Squash Curry
- Creamy Coconut Vegetarian Korma
- Loaded Vegan Butter ‘Chicken'
Creamy Coconut Lentil Curry
If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon each: cumin seeds and coriander seeds
- 1 head garlic, chopped (10-12 cloves)
- 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons ginger, chopped
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 cup dried brown lentils
- 1-2 teaspoons cayenne powder, optional
- 3 cups water
- 15 ounce can coconut milk
- A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- Heat the coconut oil in a large pot or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and toast until they start to brown, about 45 seconds. Add the garlic to the pot and let it brown, about 2 minutes.1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 tablespoon each: cumin seeds and coriander seeds, 1 head garlic
- Add the can of crushed tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, and sea salt to the pot and cook, stirring the pot a few times, for 5 minutes. Add the lentils and, if using, the cayenne powder, and the water to the pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Stir the pot a few times to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom. If the curry starts to look dry, add an extra ½ – 1 cup of water.28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1 tablespoon turmeric, 2 teaspoons sea salt, 1 cup dried brown lentils, 1-2 teaspoons cayenne powder, 3 cups water
- Once the lentils are soft and the curry is thick, add the coconut milk and cherry tomatoes and bring the pot back to a simmer. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cilantro.15 ounce can coconut milk, A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, 1 cup chopped cilantro
I’m at a loss to find the curry in this recipe…lol So I went ahead and added it in- the Indian type. Also I find tomato stunts the “blooming” of beans and such- possibly the acid content- so didn’t add the sauce until later on with the coconut milk.
Yummy stuff with all those punchy spices 🙂
I’m planning on making this tonight but was wondering if you had any insight on making it in a pressure cooker; any tips as far as timing? Thank you!
We haven’t tried it in a pressure cooker, but I suspect it will work!
This is the best curry everrrrr! Was easy to make and absolutely delicious. My all time favourite xxx
We made this for Valentine’s day, and it was a huge hit with me and my bf. Now I’m making it for my mother for mother’s day
Delicious and super easy! My husband and I loved it. I used ground coriander and cumin but adjusted the amount. My 12 year old? Not so much – he doesn’t love curry – but I keep trying!
Can the dish be stored in the freezer?
Yes! This recipe freezes very well.
I have made this a hundred times, and love it! Thank you for a great recipe (:
I absolutely love love love this curry, but it takes me way longer than the recipe says, usually an hour and a half or more. Takes about 50 min for the lentils to fully soften and for the curry to thicken and then another 10-15 more for the curry to rethicken after adding the coconut milk. Still, love this!
Sooo good! I subbed the coriander seeds for garam masala because I was out, & coriander is the first ingredient. It turned out amazing!
I used green lentils and they took an hour or more to soften. Otherwise this was delicious, i will add more Indian spices next time, i like a more highly flavored dish.
Delicious recipe! I also really appreciate how the amounts of each ingredients are listed in the instructions. This way you don’t have to keep scrolling around.
I got tired of my French style lentils and found this. It’s a great starting point for me!
The first time I followed the recipe very closely except added 1/2 medium red onion, some curry powder, and finished it with about a tbsp of garam masala just before the coconut milk. I think the cinnamon in the garam masala finishes this dish nicely. Next time I make this I will add ground coriander instead of the seeds, as I find the seeds unpleasant to eat. I might also sub yogurt for the coconut milk to see how it turns out. But this is easy to make for lunches – lentils, rice and either stir fried cabbage or lightly pickled cucumbers. YUM!
This is by far the creamiest curry I’ve ever made! We love it in this household 🙂
So amazing!!!!!! I love this recipe. I cut back the salt in half and the cayenne, otherwise, this was so easy and perfect ❤️ Thank you
I’ve made this recipe about 10 times now, it’s awesome. I’ve done it a few times cooking the lentils first, then adding them in already cooked and adding no water, and it has turned out fine.
But when I’ve made it starting with raw lentils, I find that 3 cups of water is too much, the lentils end up thoroughly cooked but the end result is too watery. I’m trying it right now with 2 cups instead.
love this curry! i make a large batch once a month
Delicious, the only problem I had was that when I added the coconut milk it turned into a soup so I had to keep cooking it for another 30 mins to reduce the liquid, that meant lots of stirring to prevent it sticking on the bottom of the pan…. the curry was nice and thick before I added the coconut milk, any tips as I will definitely remake this as the flavours are lovely. Thanks!
Thank you so much for the recipe!! So delicious, all the flavors blend together……yum!!!
This our go to Lentil Curry. Frequently requested by my 10yr old as it’s her favourite dinner dish.
Have not tried this yet, but am intrigued by BOTH versions. I will ask if you use the WHOLE cumin and coriander in the crockpot version ? I could not tell by video!
In the video, we used whole. 🙂
SO delicious 😋 thank you!! Very rarely can you follow a recipe to the letter and it turn out so yummy ☺️ Whole family loved it – served with brown basmati rice, roasted sweet potatoes and roasted cavelo nero. Brilliant 🤩
Is it full fat coconut milk or not ?
Full fat will make it the creamiest!
Absolutely love this recipe. It’s my go-to recipe for a big party or a cozy winter night. Always a crowd pleaser. Like some others, I use half the water suggested.
LOVE LOVE LOVE this dish !!!!
I add sweet potato and I mixed two different kinds of lentils- red and brown. Delicious.
Thank you 😊
First time ever I made a curry: it was GLORIOUS!
Thanks for sharing this
Delicious and easy to follow. Thanks for sharing this recipe!
I LOVE this recipe!!!! I wasnt sure about it at first but my husband had bought like 15-20lbs of lentils so I needed recipes to try. This one is by far my favorite.
I have made this at least 4 times one of which I made solely for myself. Except for breakfast, I had it at every meal that week. I had my husband grab coconut milk yesterday just so I could make this for myself again.
Thank you for such an amazingly yummy recipe.
I could talk all day about this recipe but I’ll keep it short. It’s fan-tas-tic.
Best vegan curry I’ve ever made
Great recipe. We used coconut milk with the chicken broth. We used almost every different vegetable in the fridge. We also used red lentils.
Thanks so much
We loved the flavor but will add an onion next time.
The coriander seeds were chewy so will use powder perhaps next time. Good soup indeed!
Easy and delicious. I’ve come back to it many times over the last two years.
Sometimes I add mushroom and chicken pieces.
This is easily one of my new favorite recipes! I have now made it twice. I always like to make more than they the allotted servings and so I originally doubled the recipe and it made so much food! AMAZING – I ate the absolute heck out of it all week and never got bored of it! The second time I made it was just last night and I followed the amount of lenils needed but added more of the spieces and it gave me way more of the broth than the lentil. I wasn’t super stoked because I wanted more for the next couple of days. So after I at, I kept the pot simmering and added more dried lentils to the pot and practically made another batch and it is so delicious! I highly recommend adding more lentils people. Minimally a cup and a half or heck just the entire bad and upping the seasonings becuause it is so worth having more of this deliciousness!
Have made this curry so many times and I love it every time! Can you freeze it ?
Yes! It freezes excellently!
I’ve made this delicious recipe many times. I’ve passed it on to multiple people. It is perfect as written. I do sometimes chop a couple carrots and potatoes in there, just to sneak some vegetables into my family. To make this a weeknight meal,, I saute everything in my instant pot up to the point of adding the stewed tomatoes, then I pressure cook on high for 15 minutes. Thanks for this staple in my families favorite recipes.
I’ve made this countless times!! It is so easy to make and so flavorful. I don’t change the recipe at all, but some modifications people mention below sound amazing, too. Highly recommend.
I love this creamy lentil curry recipe, so much so that it’s my go to. I do add a finely chopped onion and roughly grind the cumin and coriander seeds. That’s all !
How much is the serving? “6 servings” really doesnt sum it up for me. thank you
Each serving is about 1 ¾ cups. 🙂
Just did it it but I didn’t use as much garlic (12!?!). Perhaps garlic cloves are larger where I am. Anyway, super fast to make and delicious!
Even with the larger cloves, use that amount and I promise you won’t regret it! I do large cloves and even add a bit more because, heck why not?! ( I’m Greek and garlic is a staple hahah)
It adds a really beautiful depth to the dish.
I’m from India. So you know we have many kings of lentils and we flavor them all differently. What kind of lentil did you use, pls let me know and oblige. I like the recipe a lot. I’ll cook it. Looks yummy.
Thank you for sharing.
Meera God bless.🙏
Second time making this recipe . The coconut curry lentils came out delicious once again. Not as creamy as I would of liked but by tomorrow those lentils will thicken right up. I didn’t measure anything and just threw the spices in pretty good it still came out great I added a little extra spices a little more of everything including the cayenne and a few dashes of curry powder this pot was a little spicier but not too hot. And sooo yummy. 😉
This looks delicious but does it really take 20-24 cloves of garlic?!
If you double the recipe! Otherwise 10-12 cloves – or 1 whole head of garlic.
I made this curry last night. It was a hit! Everyone loved it!! No leftovers for tonight… Now I am inspired to get another curry going for tonight!
Yummy flavors. Easy to make. This is a keeper
I didn’t care for it. The amount of tomatoes seemed to much. The lentils could have been doubled. Mine didn’t end up yellow. It was like a thick tomato curry soup. I even added a tablespoon of mild yellow curry spice which I thought helped the flavor.
Not a fan of tomato based curry.
Thank you for this recipe! My family loved it! I read the comments and used two cups of lentils (and also added about 2-3 more cups of water while it was cooking) and a tablespoon of maple syrup for a little sweetness. It was perfect! Will be adding this to my regular rotation. Thanks again!
Love this. Simple & tasty
My friend has a Cayenne allergy. Is there a good substitute?
You can omit it or add some chili flakes for spice.
Absolutely delicious and so easy to make I just had to leave a comment. Thank you so much for this recipe it will become a firm favourite!
This recipe is tasty but I’m so confused! I’ve tried this three times and each time I make it, it is very watery, more like soup. Also it takes much longer to cook than suggested – the lentils are still fairly hard after 45 minutes. Any theories on what I’m doing wrong?
It could be the type of lentil you’re using. I find my kids like the red most (very soft), but of course you can use any. Also, you can always simmer it longer if necessary.
You’re not doing anything wrong. Firstly the lentils will take a lot longer to soften in the curry sauce than plain water because you have acid in the tomatoes and salt. Secondly, I find the recipe as written has too much liquid to make a sauce (I added the coconut milk with the tomato step, and added water as needed because the picture looked too wet for me). Hope that helps!