If you’re looking for an easy and delicious pantry meal, try this Vegan Coconut Lentil Curry. It’s a one-pot dish that is full of warming spices and rich coconut flavor. Gluten-free and dairy-free.

curry served in a black bowl with a sprig of fresh cilantro

Recipe Highlights

  • Lentils are so easy to cook. You don’t have to soak them before you cook them.
  • You can use canned tomatoes, so the only fresh ingredients you need are the onions and garlic. You can even use frozen or pre-chopped onions from the grocery store.
  • This dish cooks in about 45 minutes total, but most of the cooking time is hands-off.
lentils and other ingredients for this curry recipe

Recipe Steps

Step One

Check the lentils for rocks and then rinse them in a fine-mesh sieve.

Step Two

Chop the onion and garlic and then sauté in a tablespoon of oil.

Step Three

Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth and curry to the soup pot and bring everything to a simmer.

Step Four

After 35 minutes add the coconut milk and lime juice. Return to a simmer for a few minutes.

Step Five

Serve with your favorite gluten-free bread, flatbread, or with Indian Yellow Rice.

finished curry cooked in a stainless steel pot

Is this Recipe Healthy?

  • This recipe is a healthy, nourishing meal. Lentils are an amazing food. They are full of plant-based protein and are generally easy to digest.
  • This dish has a nice balance of healthy fat, protein, and carbs, making it a perfect meal.
  • Most traditional Indian curries use cream, but this recipe uses full-fat coconut milk to make it dairy-free.

Top Tips

  • Use full-fat coconut milk for the richest flavor.
  • Check the lentils for rocks before rinsing.
  • I recommend using curry powder for this recipe. But, if you don’t have it, you can use a blend of cumin, coriander, and turmeric instead.
  • You can make this Vegan Lentil Curry ahead of time and serve it for several days. The leftovers are so delicious and can be easily re-heated in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Active picture of someone spooning the curry into a black bowl

FAQs

Can I use red lentils to make lentil curry?

I recommend using brown or green lentils. They hold their shape best when cooking. In a pinch, you can use red lentils, but the texture of the curry will be a bit mushier.

What if I don’t have curry powder?

You can use 1/4 teaspoon each of ground turmeric, coriander, and ground cumin instead.

Can I use reduced-fat coconut milk instead of full-fat coconut milk?

Yes, but the recipe won’t be as flavorful.

Other Healthy Soup Recipes 

Or, see my entire index of clean eating soup and stew recipes.

Here is the printable recipe:

Print

Easy Coconut Lentil Curry

Coconut Lentil Curry two bowls

This Easy Vegan Coconut Lentil Curry is one of my favorite easy, weeknight meals. This is a one-pot meal using pantry ingredients. 

  • Author: Carrie Forrest, MPH in Nutrition
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 5 1x
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown or green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil*
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder**
  • 3 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 lime, juiced (optional, for serving)

Instructions

  1. Place the lentils in a fine-mesh sieve. Pick through the lentils to make sure there aren’t any tiny rocks. Then, rinse the lentils in cool water. Set aside to drain.
  2. Next, in a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. 
  3. Add the lentils, curry powder, broth, and chopped tomatoes to the pot and turn the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid, and let it simmer for 35 minutes. The lentils should absorb most of the moisture.
  4. Once the cooking time is complete, remove the lid and stir in the coconut milk and lime juice (optional). Let the curry come back to a simmer and then turn off the heat and serve immediately.

Notes

You can freeze any leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Defrost in the refrigerator and re-heat the curry on the stovetop or in the microwave.

*Leave out the oil if you are on an oil-free diet.

**If you don’t have curry powder, you can use 1/4 teaspoon each of ground turmeric, coriander, and ground cumin instead. 

Keywords: lentil curry with coconut milk, vegan curry, lentil curry

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