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Ready for a super easy curry that comes together in no time?
This lentil curry is on repeat in our household because it’s so simple to make, and requires only pantry and freezer ingredients. You can easily whip this up on a weeknight or meal prep it ahead of time on the weekend. It reheats so well, and I might even argue it gets better with time!
This recipe was originally published on May 4, 2020, and was updated with new photos and information on October 9, 2023.
I love curries because they’re incredibly easy to make vegan. They are also really versatile—as long as you have curry powder or paste and coconut milk, you can make endless combinations of curries with whatever else you have on hand!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Deliciously Flavorful: This vegan lentil curry is a burst of vibrant flavors and aromatic spices. The blend of spices, fresh ingredients, and lentils creates a curry that is rich, satisfying, and deeply satisfying to your taste buds.
- Nutrient-Packed and Healthy: Lentils are a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This curry provides a healthy and hearty meal that will keep you energized and satiated.
- Quick and Easy: This recipe is designed for busy individuals seeking a nourishing meal without spending hours in the kitchen. With simple steps and readily available ingredients, you can whip up a wholesome dinner in no time.
- Versatile and Customizable: You can tailor this lentil curry to your taste and dietary preferences. Adjust the spice level, swap vegetables, or add your favorite ingredients to make it uniquely yours. It’s a great way to use up veggies in your fridge and experiment with different flavors.
- Budget-Friendly: Lentils are inexpensive and readily available, making this curry a budget-friendly option for anyone. Plus, it yields generous portions, making it perfect for meal prepping or serving a crowd without breaking the bank.
- Perfect for Meal Prep: This lentil curry is even better the next day, allowing the flavors to meld and intensify. Make a large batch and enjoy it as a meal prep option for a few days, saving you time and effort during busy weekdays.
This is the perfect recipe for the last minute since the simple ingredients required are all freezer and pantry staples that you most likely already have on hand!
Garlic adds a robust and aromatic flavor to the curry. Fresh garlic is preferred for its strong taste, but you can also use pre-minced garlic for convenience.
A key spice blend that provides the curry’s distinct and characteristic flavor. Ensure your curry powder is fresh for optimal taste and aroma. You can also add garam masala or red curry paste to add even more flavor to the curry.
Tomato paste enriches the curry with a deep, tangy taste and helps thicken the sauce. Opt for a good-quality, no-additive tomato paste for the best results.
Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
Using low-sodium vegetable broth allows you to control the salt content in the curry while still adding depth and flavor. It’s the base of the curry and provides a savory note to the dish.
A can of coconut milk brings a creamy and luscious texture to the curry, balancing out the spices and adding a mild sweetness. Choose unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk for a richer taste.
You can use any type of lentil, but green or brown lentils are perfect for this curry due to their ability to hold their shape and provide a slightly nutty taste. Feel free to use red lentils; just keep in mind that they cook fast and tend to break down more during cooking.
Frozen Mixed Vegetables
Using frozen mixed vegetables makes meal preparation quick and convenient. They contribute a variety of colors, textures, and nutrients to the curry. Use any combination you like. Fresh and canned vegetables can also be used.
Scroll to the recipe card below for the full recipe and measurements.
How to make lentil curry
- In a large pot, sauté the minced garlic using a little water to prevent sticking, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the curry powder and tomato paste, stirring well. Then, pour in the vegetable broth and coconut milk, mixing thoroughly.
- Incorporate the green lentils into the mixture and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes.
- After the lentils are cooked, add the frozen mixed vegetables and continue cooking for a few more minutes until the veggies are heated through.
- Serve the curry topped with fresh cilantro and cashews if desired. Enjoy!
This coconut lentil curry recipe is great as-is, but if you feel like changing it up, here are some delicious ideas:
- More protein: Add tofu, tempeh, seitan, or chickpeas for extra protein and texture. Simply sauté or roast them separately and add to the curry at the end.
- Veggie variety: Experiment with different vegetables such as spinach, kale, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, or zucchini. Fresh or frozen, the choice is yours.
- Spice it up: Adjust the spice level to your liking by adding a little heat with fresh chili peppers, red pepper flakes, or hot sauce. Enhance the Indian flavors with fresh ginger, turmeric, or garam masala for a unique twist.
- Go green: Incorporate a handful of fresh leafy greens like spinach, kale, or Swiss chard towards the end of cooking for an added nutrient boost and vibrant color.
Alternative cooking methods
Did you know you can make this lentil curry in an instant pot or slow cooker? Here’s how:
- Instant Pot Lentil Curry: Turn on your Instant Pot or pressure cooker and select the “Sauté” function. Add a little water to prevent sticking and sauté the minced garlic for about 1-2 minutes. Add curry powder and tomato paste, stirring well for another minute.Pour in the vegetable broth, coconut milk, and rinsed green lentils. Stir to combine. Close the Instant Pot lid and set the valve to the sealing position. Select the “Pressure Cook” or “Manual” function and set the timer to 10-12 minutes on high pressure, depending on your lentils’ type and desired tenderness. Once the timer goes off, allow for a natural release for about 10-15 minutes. Then, carefully release any remaining pressure by turning the valve to the venting position. Open the Instant Pot, and stir in the frozen mixed vegetables. Close the lid without turning on the Instant Pot, and let the residual heat cook the vegetables for about 5-7 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
- Slow Cooker Lentil Recipe: In the slow cooker, combine garlic, curry powder, tomato paste, vegetable broth, coconut milk, and green lentils. Stir well to ensure the lentils are evenly distributed. Set the slow cooker to “Low” and let the curry cook for 6-8 hours, or on “High” for 3-4 hours. Adjust the cooking time based on your slow cooker and desired lentil tenderness. About 30 minutes before the curry is done, stir in the frozen mixed vegetables. Continue cooking until the vegetables are heated through and the lentils are tender. Season the curry with salt and pepper to taste.
Pantry and freezer friendly
This vegan curry is full of lentils because they are a great pantry staple. We always have several bags of it on hand but you can also buy cooked, canned lentils.
If using canned lentils, your cook time will drastically reduce as the majority of time required is for cooking the lentils. Instead, bring everything to simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the curry flavor time to absorb.
As for the vegetables, this curry requires only frozen mixed vegetables for convenience. Canned is also totally fine if that’s what you have available. And of course you could use fresh if desired. I often use frozen or canned because they are more affordable and tend to be more widely available.
Sometimes I’m in no mood to prepare and chop veggies so a lazy vegan recipe like this makes the daunting task of cooking so much easier!
This recipe does call for fresh garlic, but you can also replace with garlic powder, or make some of this easy roasted garlic to add in!
What to serve it with
Make some brown rice, cauliflower rice, or this delicious Potato Rice to go along with it. After all—a curry just isn’t complete without it!
For a heartier meal, serve this lentil curry over a bed of cooked quinoa, barley, or couscous. If you prefer a creamier curry, stir in a few tablespoons of vegan yogurt of cream just before serving. This will add a luxurious texture and mellow out the spices.
Stick with traditional and enjoy with a side of naan bread, pita bread, or crusty whole-grain bread for a comforting meal.
Storage and reheating
Allow the lentil curry to cool down to room temperature before storing to prevent condensation and maintain its texture. Transfer the curry to an airtight container. Glass or plastic containers with tight-sealing lids work well. Store the airtight container with the lentil curry in the refrigerator. Consume within 3-4 days to enjoy optimal taste and quality.
Allow the curry to cool to room temperature after cooking. Divide the lentil curry into portion-sized servings based on your needs. This makes it easier to thaw and reheat only the desired amount later. Place the portions into freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty resealable plastic freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label each container or bag with the date of preparation to keep track of freshness. Place the containers or bags in the freezer. Store the curry for up to 3-4 months for the best quality.
Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Stovetop: Reheat the thawed lentil curry in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until fully heated.
Microwave: Place the thawed curry in a microwave-safe dish and heat in intervals, stirring in between, until thoroughly heated. Ensure it’s piping hot (at least 165°F or 74°C) before serving.
More One Pot Vegan Recipes
Easy Lentil Curry (One Pot)
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 cans tomato paste 6 oz each
- 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth we use Better Than Bouillon
- 1 can coconut milk
- 3 cups green lentils dry, uncooked
- 2 bags frozen mixed vegetables 500g each
- ½ cup cashews optional, for topping
- cilantro optional, chopped, for topping
- In a large saucepan sauté the garlic with a little water to keep it from sticking, for 2-3 minutes.8 cloves garlic
- Add the curry powder and tomato paste and stir well. Then add the broth, coconut milk and stir well to mix.2 tablespoons curry powder, 2 cans tomato paste, 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, 1 can coconut milk
- Add in the lentils and bring to a boil. Then cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes.3 cups green lentils
- Once the lentils are cooked, add in the frozen veggies and cook a few minutes longer until heated through.2 bags frozen mixed vegetables
- Top with cilantro and cashews. Enjoy!½ cup cashews, cilantro
This recipe first appeared in the Health My Lifestyle Meal Planner.
If you are looking for more healthy, whole food plant-based recipes we’ve got your back! The Meal Planner takes all the guesswork out of what to eat by giving you new ideas with delicious easy recipes, helps you plan weekly meals, gives you an itemized grocery list based on the meals you choose, helps you eat better, track calories and most importantly, helps you eat more plant-based, all in one platform!