This creamy sweet potato lentil curry is easy to make in one pot for a healthy and delicious meal.

Overhead view of a sweet potato and red lentil curry in a bowl with rice and a wedge of lime. A spoon rests in the bowl and there are two more small spoons beside the bowl on the counter.

About this Curry

This easy Indian-inspired coconut curry features sweet potato, red lentils, coconut and spices like turmeric, cumin and garam masala.

With the creamy texture, wholesome ingredients and warming spices, it’s a comforting and delicious way to warm up on a cold day.

The recipe is made with simple ingredients and prepared in one pot in under 40 minutes. It’s also not spicy making it family-friendly, especially served with warm naan, pita or roti for dipping!

Quick Highlights

  • Vegan and gluten-free.
  • Ready in 40 minutes.
  • High in fiber and plant-based protein.
  • Can be made oil-free.
  • Can be made in advance.
  • Easy to customize.
  • Good meal prep option.
  • Stores and freezes well.

Ingredient Notes

All the ingredients needed for making a vegan sweet potato and red lentil curry. Each ingredient is labelled with text.

Please note the complete ingredient list is located in the recipe card below. This section covers notes on specific ingredients and any possible substitutions.

  • Coconut Oil: Coconut oil works well for sautéing for curry recipes. You can substitute olive oil, avocado oil or another cooking oil if you prefer. For an oil-free recipe, you can use water.
  • Sweet Potato: You’ll need 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes. This recipe would also work with squash of choice such as pumpkin or butternut squash.
  • Onion: The recipe calls for yellow onion but you could substitute white onion or shallot if needed.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic is best.
  • Ginger: Fresh ginger is best for flavour but you could substitute 1 tsp ground ginger if that’s all you have.
  • Mild Curry Paste: Look for an Indian mild curry paste. It should be labelled just as such, “mild curry paste”.
  • Spices: You’ll need turmeric, cumin, coriander and garam masala
  • Lentils: This recipe uses red lentils but green or brown lentils also work. If you’re using green/brown lentils, the curry will need slightly longer cooking time.
  • Chopped Tomato: You can use fresh tomato or canned diced tomato. If you’re using fresh tomato, add them when you add the garlic and ginger. If you’re using canned diced tomato, strain off most of the juice or scoop out about 1 cup of the diced tomatoes and add them when you add the coconut milk.
  • Coconut Milk: Use canned coconut milk. You can use light coconut milk or full-fat/regular coconut but I prefer full-fat for a creamier finish.
  • Broth: Any vegetable broth works.
  • Cilantro: Use fresh cilantro. If you don’t like cilantro, you can omit this ingredient.
  • Lime: A bit of fresh lime helps brighten and balance the flavours at the end.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Brown the Sweet Potato

Heat 1 tbsp of the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the cubed sweet potato and a season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Cook it for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned, then remove it from the pot.

The sweet potatoes will finish cooking in another step – we’re just building flavour here!

Cubes of sweet potato cooking in a large pot with a wooden spoon in it.

Saute the Aromatics

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the rest of the coconut oil to the same pot along with the onion. Cook the onions until tender, about 4-6 minutes, stirring often.

Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

Minced onion, garlic and ginger cooking in a large pot on the stovetop.

Toast the Spices

Add the curry paste, turmeric, cumin, coriander and garam masala and cook for another minute, stirring constantly until fragrant.

Minced shallot, garlic, ginger and curry powder cooking in a large soup pot with a wooden spoon.

Simmer Curry

Add the coconut milk, vegetable broth (or water), lentils and sweet potato. Season it with a pinch of salt and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.

Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low or you have a gentle simmer. Cook for about 18-20 minutes until the lentils are sweet potato are tender.

Coconut milk, diced tomato, sweet potato and broth cooking in a large pot on the stovetop.

Add Seasonings

Finally, stir in the lime juice and cilantro and season to taste with salt.

Freshly chopped cilantro sprinkled over a red lentil and sweet potato curry in a large pot.

Enjoy Your Curry!

Serve the curry with freshly cooked rice of choice, warm naan, pita or roti, lime wedges and topped with toasted coconut flakes and more fresh cilantro, if desired.

A bowl of sweet potato and lentil curry with rice topped with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. A spoon rests in the bowl.

Notes & Tips

  1. It’s not totally necessary to brown the sweet potato in step one but I like the flavour and texture it adds. To save time/effort, you can skip this step and add the sweet potato when you add the lentils and simmer until they’re tender.
  2. You could also roast the sweet potato tossed in a little olive oil, salt and pepper at 425 under tender and stir it into the curry at the end.
  3. Other vegetables that work well are bell pepper, green beans, spinach, zucchini, cauliflower and carrot. You can add up to 2 cups diced when you add the lentils.
  4. For spicy curry, add up to 1 tsp red chili flakes with the rest of the spices.
Overhead view of a pot of sweet potato red lentil curry with cilantro in it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use green lentils for this curry?

Yes. Substitute 1 cup green or brown lentils for the red lentils and simmer 5-10 minutes longer until they’re tender.

Can I make it without lentils?

Yes. To make this curry without lentils, omit the red lentils, or swap for 2 cups cooked chickpeas, and reduce the broth to 1-2 cups, starting with 1 cup and adding more if needed to adjust the consistency as the sweet potato cooks.

Do I have to peel the sweet potato?

I didn’t but if you prefer a smoother texture, you can if you like!

Can I add spinach to this recipe?

Yes, if you’d like to spinach add up to 4 cups fresh spinach or baby spinach once the lentils have finished cooking and stir until wilted.

A large pot of sweet potato and red lentil curry with pieces of fresh cilantro in it. A wooden spoon rests in the pot.

Instant Pot Instructions

  1. Add the garlic, ginger and 1 tbsp of coconut and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the spices and curry paste and saute 1 more minute, stirring continuously.
  3. Add the sweet potato and saute a few more minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add everything except the cilantro and lime, seal and cook for 5 minutes on high pressure.
  5. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes then release any remaining pressure.
  6. Carefully open the lid and stir in the lime and cilantro.

Storing Instructions

  • Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • It will thicken after storing you can thin it out by stirring in extra broth or water.
  • To freeze, cool completely then store in an airtight container or heavy duty freeze bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
Close up of a bowl of sweet potato lentil curry with rice and a wedge of lime.

More Curry Recipes

So many curries, so little time! Here are some more reader-favourite recipes you might enjoy:

Extra sweet potatoes? Make sweet potato lentil soup, sweet potato pie, stuffed sweet potatoes, sweet potato breakfast bowls or sweet potato cookies.

Did you try this recipe?
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I’d love to hear about it! Click here to leave a review and be sure to tag me @runningonrealfood if you post it on social media.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Overhead view of a sweet potato and red lentil curry in a bowl with rice and a wedge of lime. A spoon rests in the bowl and there are two more small spoons beside the bowl on the counter.

Sweet Potato Lentil Curry

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan
Save Recipe

Description

This one pot sweet potato lentil curry is packed with flavour and nutrition and ready to enjoy in less than 40 minutes.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, divided (30 g)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes (approx. 5 cups, 665 g)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (150 g/1 ¼ cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp Indian mild curry paste (20 g)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ garam masala 
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed (210 g, or green or brown lentils)
  • 1 cup canned or fresh diced tomatoes (230 g, approx. 34 Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 (398 mL) can coconut milk
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water (1000 mL)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (20 g)
  • ½ lime, juiced 
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Brown Sweet Potato: In a large pot, over medium heat, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil. When the pot is hot, add the sweet potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 6-8 min, stirring occasionally, until browned. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. The sweet potatoes will finish cooking in another step.
  2. Cook Onion: To the same pot, add the remaining coconut oil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the onions. Cook for 4-6 min, stirring often, until tender.
  3. Add Garlic & Ginger: Add the garlic and ginger. Cook for another 2-3 min, stirring occasionally. If you’re using fresh diced tomato, add it now, if you’re using canned diced tomatoes reserve for now.
  4. Add Spices: Add the curry paste, turmeric, cumin, coriander and garam masala. Cook for another 1 min, stirring constantly, until fragrant, to toast the spices.
  5. Add Liquid, Lentils & Sweet Potato: Add the coconut milk, broth or water, lentils and reserved sweet potatoes. If you’re using canned diced tomato, add those now as well. Season with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 20-25 min, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and sweet potato are tender. If using green or brown lentils, increase cooking time to 25-30 minutes or until tender.
  6. Add Seasonings: Stir in lime juice and chopped cilantro, reserving from cilantro for topping, then season to taste with salt, if needed.
  7. Serve: Serve with cooked rice, naan, lime wedges and garnished toasted coconut flakes and more cilantro, if desired.

Notes

You can use light or full-fat coconut milk to preference.

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days. Note that it will thicken considerable after storing. You can thin it out by stirring in a bit of broth or water when you reheat it. To freeze, cool completely and store in freezer bags or a sealed container for 2-3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6th of recipe
  • Calories: 356
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Sodium: 442 mg
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Carbohydrates: 52 g
  • Fiber: 9 g
  • Protein: 11 g

Keywords: sweet potato lentil curry, sweet potato and red lentil curry