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This one-pot vegan red lentil curry is insanely creamy, spiced to perfection, and so flavorful! Packed with red lentils, ginger, garlic, and coconut milk, this Indian-inspired curry is truly restaurant-quality! Serve it with a side of white rice, naan, or sautéed greens for a delicious plant-based meal.

Top view of red lentil curry in a bowl with cilantro, coconut milk, and naan.

⭐️ Why You Should Try It

  • Restaurant-quality curry from home. This velvety-smooth and buttery curry has been our go-to for the past few weeks and we can’t get enough of it! The best part? It surpasses the taste of the one we usually get from our favorite local Indian restaurant, all while being made with wholesome and nutritious ingredients.
  • Insanely rich and creamy. The richness of the coconut milk combined with the fragrant flavors of the aromatics make this curry a must-try that will surely satisfy the whole family. It’s wonderfully spiced and packed with a ton of flavor.
  • One pot and minimal ingredients. You will need just one pot and about 50 minutes to make this curry. It’s perfect for a weeknight dinner and leftovers reheat beautifully!

📘 What is Red Lentil Curry

Red lentil curry (Masoor Dal) is an Indian dish consisting of red lentils cooked in a creamy broth typically prepared with tomatoes, garlic, ginger, spices, and cream or coconut milk. Dal refers to pulses and beans such as split chickpeas, pigeon peas, mung beans, or black-eyed peas.

This Masoor Dal is one of our favorites alongside dal palak!

Ingredients like tomatoes, red lentils, spices, and coconut milk.

🍅 Ingredient Notes

Here is what you will need to prepare this Indian curry:

  • Vegan butter – You can use store-bought or homemade vegan butter.
  • Shallots – If you don’t have shallots on hand, replace them with one onion.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic works best in this recipe.
  • Ginger – Fresh ginger is essential here. Do not replace it with ground ginger, you would not get the citrusy aroma. I highly recommend the freshest ginger, preferably small roots with smooth skin. These tend to be less fibrous than the larger ones.
  • Spices – Garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder for spiciness. Worry not, this curry is very mildly spicy.
  • Diced tomatoes – To save time, we will use a 14-oz can of diced tomatoes. You can use a can of crushed tomatoes if you don’t have the diced kind on hand.
  • Tomato paste – Optional, it adds extra saltiness and gives the curry a deeper color.
  • Red lentils – Masoor dal or split red lentils make the base of this curry. You can find split red lentils online or in most Asian stores. I do not recommend substituting with other types of lentils as it would alter the texture and flavor of the curry.
  • Salt and sugar – To season and balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Coconut milk – Use full-fat coconut milk for optimal richness. Light coconut milk will work too, but your curry won’t have that restaurant-quality taste. Alternatively, you can use your favorite plant-based cream.
  • Lime juice – For brightness.
  • Cilantro – For topping. Cilantro brings freshness and a herby flavor.

🥣 How to Make It

1. Sauté the aromatics

  1. Heat the butter. Heat the butter and oil in a deep Dutch oven or pot over medium heat.
  2. Sauté. Once hot, add the minced shallots, garlic, and ginger, and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the spices. Next, add the ground spices and sauté for another 30 seconds. This will help intensify their flavors.

2. Cook the lentils

  1. Add the lentils. To the pot, add the uncooked red lentils, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, salt, and sugar.
  2. Let simmer. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring 2-3 times during cooking to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  1. Add the coconut milk. Once the lentils are soft, pour in the coconut milk and stir to combine.

3. Thicken

  1. Simmer uncovered. Finally, simmer the curry uncovered, stirring regularly, for another 10-12 minutes or until it slightly thickens.
  2. Garnish. Before serving, stir in the lime juice and a handful of chopped cilantro.

📔 Tips

  • Rinse the lentils. Before using, rinse the red lentils a few times under cold water. This step will help remove any possible dirt.
  • Adjust the saltiness to taste. Start using 3/4 teaspoon of salt and add more to taste once the curry is completely cooked.
  • Make it a day ahead. This curry tastes even better the next day as flavors have time to merge. If you serve this curry to guests, I recommend preparing it the day before.

🥬 Variations

This red lentil curry is versatile, so feel free to customize it to your liking! Here are a few options:

  • Make it spicier: Add an extra teaspoon of chili powder or sauté half of a Thai chili with the aromatics.
  • Add vegetables: You can add finely chopped vegetables such as carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, or potatoes at the beginning of cooking.
  • Make it zesty: Add lime zest for a citrusy flavor.
  • Make it nutty: Stir in a couple of tablespoons of peanut or almond butter for a hint of nuttiness.

🍚 What to Serve It With

Wondering what to serve with this curry? Here are a few side ideas:

  • Flatbread: We love to serve this curry with either vegan naan, paratha, or dosas.
  • Grains: White rice, biryani, or even quinoa.
  • Vegetables: Sautéed spinach, kale, green beans, or steamed broccoli.
Close-up of a hand holding a piece of naan with red lentil curry.

❄️ Storing and Reheating

  • To store: This red lentil curry will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • To freeze: Transfer the curry to a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for a few hours at room temperature.
  • To reheat: You can reheat the curry over medium heat for a few minutes. If the curry has thickened too much, thin it out with coconut milk or water and adjust the saltiness accordingly.

💬 FAQ

Do I need to soak the lentils before cooking?

Since this recipe uses split red lentils, there is no need to soak them.

Can I use canned cooked red lentils?

Canned cooked lentils won’t work in this recipe.

Can I make this red lentil curry without coconut milk?

Yes, you can make it without using coconut milk, but you must replace it with another type of vegan cream. Without any cream, the curry doesn’t taste as decadent. You can use cashew cream or soy cream.

My curry is too thin. How can I thicken it?

If you prefer your curry on the thicker side, use less coconut milk and/or simmer it uncovered for an extra 10-15 minutes. Be aware that this curry will slightly thicken as it cools down.

We hope you will love this irresistible red lentil curry as much as we do! It’s superbly seasoned, buttery, warming, and super simple to make!

⭐️ Did you like this recipe? Let us know in the comments below, and tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Red lentil curry in a bowl with cilantro, coconut milk, and naan.
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Recipe

Vegan Red Lentil Curry

5 from 2 votes
Author: Thomas Pagot
This one-pot vegan red lentil curry is insanely creamy, spiced to perfection, and so flavorful! Packed with red lentils, ginger, garlic, and coconut milk, this Indian-inspired curry is truly restaurant-quality! Serve it with a side of white rice, naan, or sautéed greens.
Prep Time : 15 minutes
Cook Time : 35 minutes
Total Time : 50 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
 

Instructions
 

  • Sauté the aromatics. Heat the butter and oil in a deep Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the minced shallots, garlic, and ginger. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the spices. Next, add the ground spices and sauté for another 30 seconds. This will help intensify their flavors.
  • Add the lentils. To the pot, add the uncooked red lentils, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, salt, and sugar.
  • Let simmer. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring 2-3 times during cooking to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the coconut milk. Once the lentils are soft, pour in the coconut milk and stir to combine.
  • Simmer uncovered. Finally, simmer the curry uncovered, stirring regularly, for another 10-12 minutes or until it slightly thickens. Before serving, stir in the lime juice and a handful of chopped cilantro.
  • This red lentil curry will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Rinse the lentils. Before using, rinse the red lentils a few times under cold water. This step will help remove any possible dirt.
  • Adjust the saltiness to taste. Start using 3/4 teaspoon of salt and add more to taste once the curry is completely cooked.
  • Make it a day ahead. This curry tastes even better the next day as flavors have time to merge. If you serve this curry to guests, I recommend preparing it the day before.
Course : Dinner
Cuisine : Indian
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About the Author

Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.

Learn more ➜

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5 stars
This vegan curry bring a new taste for me and my family. Thank you,

5 stars
Amazing recipe : Very delicious and full of flavours 😋.