Creamy Red Lentil Curry
I’ve created a beautifully rich, creamy red lentil curry that can easily be added to your weekly or fortnightly rotation.
You know those days when you’re exhausted and hungry but need leftovers for work or school the next day?
This creamy red lentil curry is perfect for those situations. It’s filling, cheap, and super easy to make! I’ve made a red lentil soup that you can try out if you’d prefer more of a soup consistency using your red lentils, but the curry is very hearty.
We buy our red lentils at the local bulk store because that’s the most accessible way for us to get organic and package free red lentils. We always take a large jar to fill up so we have them on hand whenever we want to use them.
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I find that having certain ingredients in our fridge and pantry saves us when we’re stuck for meal ideas or can’t be bothered to think about food. So red lentils and rice are a must-have staple in our cupboard.
If you want some extra flavours and textures, you can always make this recipe with some more veggies like sweet potatoes, baby spinach or pumpkin.
This recipe has evolved over time. I didn’t used to use the creamy blended base with the cashews, but I think that it takes it to another level that way.
If you’re trying to make it nut-free you can omit the cashews, it just won’t be as creamy and thick.
What are the health benefits of red lentils?
You might be wondering why you should be eating red lentils. What are the benefits of consuming these small round legumes? Well, here’s a nice little list for you:
- Good source of protein
- They have high levels of vitamin-B, in particular, B-3 and B-6
- Rich in iron
- Packed full of fibre
- Help to stabilise blood sugar levels
- Very low in fat
- Rich in complex carbohydrates
Is it best to soak lentils before cooking them?
I always soak any lentils before I cook them. The bigger they are, the longer I soak them for.
I typically soak them overnight as this helps the cooking time and I personally find that it makes me less bloated (if at all).
With red lentils, you can get away with soaking them for a couple of hours prior to cooking or not soaking them at all. Just make sure to give them a really good rinse beforehand.
Tip: when washing lentils, keep an eye out for any small rocks that may appear in amongst the lentils. No one wants to break a tooth!
Do you cook the lentils before adding them to the curry?
No, I don’t. Red lentils, in particular, cook the fastest out of all the lentil varieties so it’s not necessary to do so. However, if you’re preparing a dish with let’s say brown lentils, you could cook them prior to use to save on time when preparing the meal.
What should I serve with this creamy red lentil curry?
There are many options of what you can serve with this delicious curry. Here are some ideas:
- White basmati or jasmine rice
- Brown basmati or medium-grain rice
- Cauliflower rice
- Red rice
- Smashed Curry Roasted Potatoes
My preferred way to eat it is with the first three options, but as you can see the choices are endless!
Let’s talk about spice
Curries would be nothing without the spices. Different spices give you a different experience. I try and keep it quite simple and accessible in my kitchen so that everyone can make it no matter where you are in the world.
There are some spices that I haven’t used in this recipe but can be added if you wish, make sure to add them at the beginning when you add the cumin seeds:
- Fresh ginger
- Fresh turmeric
- Brown mustard seeds (not much as they can be bitter)
- Cardamom pods (if you like it a little sweeter)
- Fresh garlic (use instead of the garlic powder)
- Garam masala
If you choose to add any of these spices, they will change the flavour but it will still taste wonderful.
I wouldn’t suggest to go too crazy with them and add everything in, but a couple of them will only enhance the flavour.
I kept it quite simple for a reason, but don’t worry, the flavours are still very much there!
Other recipes you’ll love:
- Palak Sweet Potato Paneer
- Cauliflower Potato Curry with Coconut Milk
- Vegan Matar Paneer with Tofu
- Red Lentil Soup (Vegan)
- Homemade Vegan Naan
- Tikil Gomen (Ethiopian Cabbage & Potatoes)
If you try this recipe, let me know! We’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest.Print
Creamy Red Lentil Curry (Vegan-Friendly)
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 6
This creamy vegan red lentil curry is a delicious and economical way to make food in bulk. It has great hearty flavours and is super easy to put together!
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (or ½ teaspoon cumin powder)
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder (or seeds)
- 1 tablespoon curry powder (I use mild)
- 2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained (soaked for at least 2 hours, I normally do it overnight)
- 1 can / 400ml / 14.10 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 cup / 130g raw cashews
- 1 can / 400g / 14.10 ounces tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- Salt, to taste
- Chilli powder, to taste (or cayenne pepper, optional)
- Heat a large pot over a medium heat adding the oil and onions. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add in the cumin, coriander, and curry powder and stir for a couple of minutes to release all of the flavours.
- Add in the red lentils and add a splash of water to deglaze the pan and stir well. Pop the lid on. If you need to add some more water, you can do so.
- In a high-speed blender, add 2 cups / 500ml of water, coconut milk, cashews, tomatoes, and garlic powder and blend until smooth.
- When around half the lentils have turned yellow, add the blended mix to the lentils and stir well until everything is combined. Bring to a simmer and slightly reduce heat.
- At this point, put the lid on as it will start to bubble quite a bit as it thickens. Make sure you stir it every now and then so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. I do it normally every couple of minutes.
- Add salt and chilli to taste.
- Cook the curry for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft but not mushy.
- Serve with rice, naan, or any of the other options mentioned earlier in the post.
- Diet: Vegan
Boy oh boy this was so enjoyable! Probably the best lentil dish I’ve made.
My son and his fiancée thoroughly devoured this too which was shocking since they’re super picky. Will keep making this dish for sure. I didn’t use coconut oil but just used a little water to cook my onions and spices. Didn’t have canned coconut milk either so used soy milk instead. Turned out delicious even with substitutions. Was happy to have some leftovers the next day. Thanks!!
A very simple, delicious dish. Top tier recipe!
Thank you for the review! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂
I love this recipe—it is so simple and delicious and one I will surely return to. I left out cashews and simmered for a bit longer than 30 to cook down more of the liquid, and I was still very happy with the consistency! I will definitely try with cashews next time though for the extra creamy, thick texture.
Warm, creamy, delicious comfort food; perfect for this raw Spring day. Thanks for the recipe!
So glad you enjoyed it, Sue! 🙂
This recipe looks great! I love red lentils and I’m glad this one popped up when I was searching for recipes. I know you say “1 onion” but I’m wondering if you have a more specific amount you recommend in terms of cups? Thank you!
Hi Nadia, it should be a medium-sized onion. Approx ¾-1 cup of diced onion. It doesn’t have to be too specific in this recipe. Hope that helps!
Very good, wholesome meal
Fabulous recipe. I’ve never made these as a curry before. I added a few cloves of garlic to the sauce in the blender, and then 3 cups of spinach just minutes before serving so it became wilted. My son and husband both loved it served over rice and it was quite lovely and colorful with the dashes of bright green from the spinach. Thank you!
Looks like a nice recipe!
I’m a little concerned though with the claim that red lentils have ‘high levels of vitamin-B, in particular…B-12’.
I’ve never heard of red lentils as a source of B12 (from my understanding, few/no plants are considered a source of B12, which is why vegans must supplement for it). Can I ask where you got this info?
Looking forward to trying this recipe out ?
Hi Cat! Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you picking up on my typo! It was meant to say B6, not B12! I hope you enjoy the curry x
Genuinely one of the best curries I’ve had. Made it twice now and it’s come out perfectly both times! Such rich flavour and my leftovers last ages xx
So happy to hear you’re enjoying it! It’s one of my favourites too 🙂
I just made this curry right now and I think it turned out nicely. ran out of red lentils and had to use yellow but I’m a fan of it with the yellow lentils too!
Oh great to hear! Glad it turned out well. Thanks for the tip 🙂
Could i use coconut cream instead of milk and could I make without cashews ?
Yes, you can! It just might not be as creamy, but it will still be delicious 🙂
I am going to make this tomorrow! I am going to use fresh garlic and ginger what quantity would you use. Also how much chili powder. For medium spice 1ts? Or 1tbls
Hi Gary, for garlic I would do 2-3 cloves (depending on size) and about a tablespoon on freshly grated ginger. Chilli really comes down to personal preference and the type of chili powder it is. I would start off with 1/2 – 1 teaspoon and taste test before adding more. Hope you enjoy it!
Can you leave the milk out completely
Hi Lynn, I wouldn’t recommend it as it won’t have the same creamy texture and help to balance out the thickness of the cashews when cooked. You can try swapping it out for unsweetened plant milk but I haven’t personally tried it so I don’t know what the end result would look and taste like. If you’re concerned about the flavour, you don’t taste the coconut in the final curry. Hope that helps!
I made this last night and as a chef I will have to say I had problems with it. It came out mushy I am not sure if I used the wrong red lentils but I had to add 1/3 cup yellow lentils to bulk it up. What brand of red lentils do you use.
I will make it again.
All in all it was delicious.
Sorry to hear it didn’t turn out for you! I buy my lentils from the bulk store so unfortunately, I don’t know what brand they are. Are you using whole or split red lentils? Glad to hear you still enjoyed it 🙂
I used split lentils from Aurora brand. Will be making again.
Hi, this recipe is incredible! Thank you for sharing it with us! I had it today for lunch and I am so so happy I have found you and this recipe 🙂 I have eaten it with some couscous and it was so tasty! Thanks 🙂
So happy to hear you enjoyed it 🙂
I have a bit allergy is there a good substitute for the cashews?
You can just leave them out and add a little more coconut if you like. It won’t be as creamy, but still super delicious!
I would love to try this but this (and many vegan recipes unfortunately) have coconut milk in them and I’m allergic. Do you have any recommendations for unsweetened plant milks (oat??) that I could substitute and still have the yummy creaminess? Thanks!!
I personally haven’t tried it but you can see if organic soy milk will do the trick? Increase the cashew quantity for a little bit more creaminess if using a plant milk. Good luck! Let me know how it turns out 🙂
This looks delicious! How much coriander is in the recipe? It says 1/s tsp in the description but I wasn’t sure what that meant. Thank you!
Hi Molly! Good pick up, sorry that is meant to say ½ a teaspoon. I’ve just fixed it up 🙂
Absolutely delicious and easy to make! You will definitely have leftovers as well!
I’m wondering if it would also be good with cilantro or other greens?
I’m so glad you enjoyed this curry, Liz! Sure, you could add cilantro and greens. That would be delicious 🙂
Super easy, super quick and very tasty! Thank you for this recipe!