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Looking for a healthy weeknight dinner to add to your rotation? Try this flavor-packed chickpea and lentil curry! Filled with fragrant Indian spices, creamy coconut milk, and aromatics, this recipe is made in just one pot!

Chickpea and lentil curry served in a white bowl and topped with coconut yogurt and chopped cilantro. Two pieces of naan dipped on the side of the bowl.
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Why you’ll love this recipe

This chickpea lentil curry is made with simple ingredients for a delicious meal with minimal effort! If that’s not enough, here are more reasons you’ll love this lentil curry recipe:

  • Healthy and nourishing. Both lentils and chickpeas are high in fiber and plant-based protein, while also being a good source of folate, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, zinc, antioxidants, and more!
  • Meal prep and freezer friendly. This is the BEST meal to make in a big batch—it tastes even better the next day! It also freezes well and thaws perfectly, without any change of texture or flavor.
  • This chickpea and lentil curry is naturally vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free. But it tastes so good that even omnivores will love it!
  • Flavorful and aromatic. The combination of Indian spices, aromatics, and creamy coconut milk creates a dreamy texture and layers of flavor. While this is not a traditional curry, it’s one you’ll find yourself making time and time again!

Ingredient notes

Gathered ingredients for making chickpea and lentil curry.
  • Lentils: I use green lentils for this curry, but brown lentils will also be delicious here. Red lentils can work, but you’ll need to add less liquid as they cook faster.
  • Chickpeas: Also known as Garbanzo beans, they’re an affordable and versatile pantry staple. I like to use canned chickpeas to make this recipe easier but feel free to cook chickpeas from scratch if desired.
  • Onion and fresh garlic: These are essential aromatics that every curry needs! Feel free to add fresh ginger or red chili peppers to make this recipe spicy.
  • Diced tomatoes: Make sure to use plain canned tomatoes without any spices or sugar added to them. They’ll bring acidity and volume to the curry without being too overpowering.
  • Coconut milk: It adds creaminess and balances out the rest of the flavors. Both full-fat and low-fat coconut milk can work here, but full-fat adds more flavor and gives the curry a better texture.
  • Vegetable broth: Use either store-bought or homemade vegetable stock or broth. You can also use a bouillon cube or paste and dissolve it in the same amount of warm water.
  • Lime juice and cilantro: These are optional, but whenever I’m making this chickpea and lentil curry, I like to add them as flavor boosters in the end.
  • Spices: You’ll need garam masala, curry powder, salt, and black pepper. Garam masala is a blend of spices made from ground coriander, cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamom, mustard seeds, cloves, mace, and nutmeg.

Scroll to the recipe card below for the full recipe and measurements.

How to Make Chickpea and Lentil Curry

Heat a large pot or a saucepan over medium heat. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth and sauté the onion for 4-5 minutes, until translucent.

Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.

Then, add the garam masala and curry powder, and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring often to prevent them from burning.

Sauteing onion and garlic with spices in a white Dutch oven.

Rinse the green lentils and chickpeas well under cold water.

Add the diced tomatoes, coconut milk, vegetable broth, lentils, chickpeas, salt, and black pepper.

Curry ingredients added to a white Dutch oven.

Stir and bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the curry has thickened.

Chickpea and lentil curry cooked in a large Dutch oven.

Once the lentils are cooked, remove the curry from the heat and stir in the fresh lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed, adding more salt or black pepper to taste.

Top with fresh cilantro if desired, and serve this chickpea and lentil curry with basmati rice or naan on the side.

Lentil curry in a white Dutch oven with a wooden spoon in it.

Expert Tips

  • Rinse the lentils before adding them to the curry. Lentils can have a slightly bitter taste, and frankly, can be a bit dirty, so make sure to rinse them well under cold water.
  • Sauté the spices. This builds a layer of flavor in your curry by activating the spices before adding any liquid, also called “blooming”. It draws out their flavor and makes them more pronounced.
  • Adjust the thickness as needed. If you like your curry on the thinner side, feel free to add 1/2 more vegetable broth to it. If you like it thick, you can either reduce the amount of vegetable broth slightly or simmer it until you reach your desired consistency.
  • Use full-fat coconut milk. This will give you a thick curry that is rich and creamy. Low-fat coconut milk can work if you’re looking for a low-fat alternative, but it will make the sauce thinner.
  • Use canned lentils to make this recipe faster. If you’re in a rush, use 3 cans of pre-cooked lentils and cut the liquid in half. This way, your chickpea and lentil curry will be ready in less than 20 minutes!
  • Adjust the cooking time as needed. The cooking time of the lentils can vary depending on the type of equipment you’re using. A deep soup pot or a Dutch oven will make them cook slower (40-45 minutes), while a wide and shallow saucepan will cause them to cook faster (30 minutes).

FAQs

Do you need to soak lentils?

No, you don’t need to soak the lentils before making this chickpea and lentil curry.
However, this can help cut down on cooking time, and it can also improve digestion and nutrition absorption.
If you decide to soak your lentils, make sure there is plenty of water so they don’t dry out. After soaking them overnight, give them a good rinse and reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by around half.

Can I freeze this curry?

Yes, this curry freezes well! Let leftovers cool to room temperature, then transfer them to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

What can I use instead of coconut milk?

If you don’t have coconut milk on hand or just don’t want to use it, the best substitute would be cashew cream. You can make it by blending 1/2 cup of soaked cashew with 1 1/2 cups of water until smooth and creamy. Use as you’d use coconut milk in this recipe.
Other alternatives include cashew or oat milk but keep in mind that they’ll make the curry thinner.
Coconut yogurt is another good substitute, but you’ll need to add extract liquid.

Is this coconut and lentil curry spicy?

No, this vegan curry is not spicy at all (as long as you’re using curry powder that is not spicy).

A white bowl filled with vegan curry topped with coconut yogurt, cilantro, and a lime wedge.

Variations

This chickpea and lentil curry is delicious as it is, but here are some ways to jazz things up:

  • Make it spicy: Are you a fan of spicy food? If so, you can add some heat in a couple of different ways. Either add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, or mince 2-3 red chili pepper and add them with the garlic.
  • Add vegetables: Almost any vegetable can go into this curry. From root vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and carrots to leafy greens like spinach and kale. Other great options include cauliflower, red bell peppers, peas, green beans, zucchini, and more! Overall, this is a great recipe to sneak in veggies if you have a picky eater at home.
  • Add nut butter: If you want to add a nutty element, you add a few tablespoons of peanut butter or better yet, my homemade tahini.
  • Add fruits: If you’re a fan of sweet and savory flavor, you can add 1/2 – 1 cup of diced ripe mango, or 1/3 cup of raisins.

Serving suggestions

Serve this chickpea and lentil curry with a vegan naan recipe without yogurt , cooked white or brown rice, chapati, or roti. If you want to try something different, give my easy potato rice a try, you won’t be disappointed!

Are you looking for a low-carb side dish? Try serving it with cauliflower rice or roasted vegetables on the side.

I also love adding a dollop of coconut yogurt or vegan sour cream to the curry for more acidity and creaminess.

A hand scooping curry with a piece of naan bread.

Storage

Let leftovers cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 4-5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Reheating

  • Stovetop: Add the curry to a saucepan alongside a splash of coconut milk or water if you need to thin it out. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until warm.
  • Microwave: Add it to a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1-3 minutes, stirring halfway, or until warm.

More comforting vegan recipes

Chickpea and lentil curry served in a white bowl and topped with coconut yogurt and chopped cilantro. Two pieces of naan dipped on the side of the bowl.

Perfect Chickpea & Lentil Curry

5 from 4 votes
Author: Rachel
Looking for a healthy weeknight dinner to add to your rotation? Try this flavor-packed chickpea and lentil curry! Filled with fragrant Indian spices, creamy coconut milk, and aromatics, this recipe is made in just one pot!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 (or 8 small)

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 13.5-oz can coconut milk
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups green lentils uncooked
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 lime juiced, for serving (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro chopped, for topping (optional)

Instructions 

  • Heat a large pot or a saucepan over medium heat. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth and sauté the onion for 4-5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
    1 yellow onion, diced, 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • Then, add the garam masala and curry powder, and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring often to prevent them from burning.
    1 tablespoon garam masala, 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • Rinse the green lentils and chickpeas well under cold water. Add the diced tomatoes, coconut milk, vegetable broth, rinsed lentils and chickpeas, salt, and black pepper.
    1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, 1 13.5-oz can coconut milk, 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, 2 cups green lentils, 1 15-oz can chickpeas, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, freshly cracked black pepper
  • Stir and bring everything to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the curry has thickened.
  • Once the lentils are cooked, remove the curry from the heat and stir in the fresh lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed, adding more salt or black pepper to taste. Top with fresh cilantro if desired, and serve with basmati rice or naan.
    1 lime, Fresh cilantro

Notes

Storage
Let leftovers cool to room temperature then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 4-5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Reheating
  • Stovetop: Add the curry to a saucepan alongside a splash of coconut milk or water if you need to thin it out. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until warm.
  • Microwave: Add it to a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1-3 minutes, stirring halfway, or until warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 376kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4770mg | Potassium: 835mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 124IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 103mg | Iron: 8mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
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