Red Curry Lentils
You’ll love Thai red curry lentils for an easy one pot meal that combines lentils and carrots in a creamy red curry sauce that’s easy to make. Perfect for those nights where you need a healthy vegan dinner in 30 minutes and makes great leftovers for meal prep!
Curry dishes are one of my favorite meals to make because they are flavourful, comforting and can be customized any way you enjoy. I especially love red lentils because they cook up fast and absorb whatever flavour you add to them.
In this recipe, I use a vegan store-bought red curry paste, red lentils, carrot and cauliflower to make a hearty curry dish that only takes 30 minutes to make. This recipe is a staple in our house and we love enjoying the leftovers!
- This recipe is vegan and can be gluten-free and oil-free, if needed.
- It can all be made in one pot which helps with cleanup.
- It’s a great gluten-free dinner that has a high amount of protein and fiber.
- You can serve it over rice, quinoa or eat it plain like a soup or stew.
- Add as many of your favorite vegetables as you like.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Complete list of ingredients with amounts and full instructions is located in the recipe card below. This section covers ingredient and substitution considerations.
- Cooking Oil – You’ll need coconut or olive oil to saute up the veggies in this dish but you can substitute water or broth if you’d like the recipe to be oil-free.
- Onion & Garlic – Classic aromatic flavours in any curry.
- Fresh Ginger – Gives a fresh taste with a little spice. If you don’t have fresh ginger on hand, 1 tsp ground ginger will do the trick.
- Red Curry Paste – Use your favorite red curry paste but be sure to check your labels when keeping it vegan as some contain shrimp paste, anchovy or fish sauce. If you have extra, you can us it in my cauliflower red lentil curry or cauliflower chickpea curry.
- Coconut Milk – This helps make the curry nice and creamy. Use light or full-fat depending on nutrition needs or how you like the texture of the final dish (use full-fat for a creamier result).
- Vegetable Broth – Any store-bought or homemade broth or bouillon cubes or powder works but consider that the better the quality the better the flavour of the final dish!
- Coconut Sugar – Helps sweeten the curry slightly and balance the spicy flavour. Feel free to use maple syrup or raw cane sugar. You can omit this if you prefer the recipe to be sugar-free.
- Tamari or Soy Sauce – Adds a salty, umami flavour that pairs well with curry. Be sure to use tamari if you need the dish to be gluten-free.
- Red Lentils – These don’t need to be soaked or pre-cooked as they break down and cook fast. You could use green lentils in this recipe but it would have a different texture and would need a bit longer cooking time and may need some extra cooking liquid.
- Carrots – Adds a natural sweetness, color and flavor. If you’re short on either carrot or cauliflower, you can mix and match the amounts as needed.
- Green Pepper – Gives a pop of green color, flavor and texture.
- Cauliflower – Adds bulk and soaks up all the yummy flavours.
- Lime Juice – Squeeze some into the final curry for acidity and fresh flavor.
Step-by-Step with Photos
Step 1: Before you start, chop the onions, garlic, carrots and cauliflower so they’re ready to go. Have the red lentils, curry paste and the rest of the ingredients on hand as well for easy access.
Step 2: First, cook up the onions, garlic and ginger in either 1 tbsp of olive or coconut oil, or use a few tbsp of water or vegetable broth for oil-free sautéing. You’ll need about 5 minutes for this step.
Once they’ve softened, are starting to brown and are wonderfully fragrant you can move on to the next step, mixing in the red curry paste. I used Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste in this recipe as it does not contain any anchovies or fish sauce.
Step 3: After you’ve mixed in the red curry paste and let it cook for a few more minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring it to a light simmer and let it cook until the mixture is thick and the veggies and lentils are tender. This should take about 20 minutes.
That’s it! Now you can either serve right away on its own or over rice, or store for up to 5 days in the fridge. It can also be frozen for a few months in a freezer-safe container and thawed in the fridge as needed.
- Cooking time will vary with the type of pan you use and how hot your stove top is. While red lentils takes about 15-20 minutes to cook, you may need to adjust to more or less.
- If you want to control the spices in your curry, add more or less curry paste depending on your personal tastes.
- For additional heat, add 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or red chili flakes.
- The sauce thickness will depend on how creamy your coconut milk is. If you’d like a thicker sauce, use a good quality full-fat coconut milk. For a thinner sauce, use light coconut milk, but make sure it’s unsweetened.
- You can omit the sugar completely from this recipe if you’d like it to be sugar free.
Serving & Variations
- Garnish with fresh cilantro, Thai basil and lime wedges.
- Serve over basmati rice, brown rice, quinoa or an other grain.
- Add in some of your favorite veggies such as: broccoli, spinach, chopped zucchini or mushrooms.
- To add even more protein, add a can of rinsed and drained chickpeas or chopped extra firm tofu.
- Feel free to switch up the type of curry and make this recipe with green or yellow curry paste.
Yes! These lentils are packed with fiber and protein and vitamins such as folate which makes them a great nutrient dense option to add to your meals.
Nope! Red lentils are soft enough to be able to break down with liquid and heat and require no soaking or par-cooking.
Traditionally lentil curry is called dhal or dal in most Indian cultures. This recipe is not an authentic dahl or Indian curry but is inspired but Indian and Thai cuisines. For a more traditional-style dahl, try my popular coconut red lentil dahl.
The veggies are easy to customize! Try stirring in a handful of spinach at the end or adding peeled and diced potato or sweet potato when you add the cauliflower. Zucchini, any colour of bell pepper and broccoli all work as well.
Storing & Freezing
- Storing: Red lentil curry can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat in a saucepan until warmed through.
- Freezing: You can freeze cooled lentil curry by pouring it into a freezer-safe bag or airtight container and freezing for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge completely overnight before reheating and serving.
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- 2 tbsp olive or coconut oil, or water or broth for oil-free
- 1/2 large white onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 3 tbsp red curry paste
- 1 14 oz can light or full-fat coconut milk
- 1.5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar (sub pure maple syrup or raw cane sugar)
- 3 tbsp gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
- 2 cups uncooked red lentils
- 3 carrots, chopped, approx. 1.5 cups
- 1 green pepper, diced, approx. 1 cup
- 1/2 a medium-sized head (5-6” dia.) of cauliflower, chopped, approx. 2-3 cups
- squeeze of fresh lime juice, optional
- optional: 1/4-1/2 cup water or vegetable broth, add as needed to adjust thickness
- optional: cooked brown or basmati rice or quinoa, for serving
- Heat the oil in a large pot. For an oil-free recipe, omit the oil and use 2 tbsp of water or vegetable stock to saute the veggies.
- Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add a bit more water, if it pan starts to try out.
- Stir in the red curry paste and cook for two more minutes, stirring.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer lightly for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables and lentils and soft and tender. If it gets too thick as it’s cooking, add a little additional water or stock to adjust the consistency.
- Serve over cooked brown or basmati rice, topped with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime. Enjoy right away or store in the fridge for 5 days or freezer for up to 3 months.
- Serving Size: 1/6th recipe
- Calories: 369
- Fat: 10 g
- Carbohydrates: 55 g
- Fiber: 10 g
- Protein: 19 g
Keywords: red curry lentils, thai curry lentils
This recipe was originally published August 13, 2014.