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This creamy coconut Lentil Curry is cozy and comforting and infused with warm Indian spices. Make in an Instant Pot or on your stovetop and serve over a bed of baby spinach, basmati rice or with homemade naan bread! Vegan.
We cannot always change the circumstances, but we can always adjust our consciousness. ~ Radhanath Swami
This flavorful Lentil Curry is easy to make and perfect for busy weeknights! Wholesome, nourishing, and vegan, yet utterly rich and comforting! Serve it over fluffy basmati rice– or try it over big bowl of fresh baby spinach… so tasty! My husband Brian prefers scooping it up with freshly made, soft buttery naan bread, and yes, that is an option too. You could also just serve it as a soup!
Lentil Curry | 45-second video
What you’ll need!
This lentil curry recipe calls for a combination of wholesome and flavorful ingredients.
- Lentils: Lentils are the star ingredient of this dish, providing a good source of plant-based protein and fiber. They add a hearty texture to the curry. We use brown lentils here.
- Coconut Milk: Creamy coconut milk is used to give the curry a luscious and rich consistency. It adds a hint of sweetness and balances out the flavors. We use full fat coconut milk for a thicker consistency.
- Indian Spices: The recipe combines an array of warm and aromatic Indian spices such as turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, and garam masala. These spices infuse the dish with the distinct flavors of Indian cuisine. Feel free to use whole seeds ( cumin seeds, coriander seeds) toast and grind for more flavor.
- Onion, Carrot, Garlic, and Ginger: These vegetables are sautéed to create a flavorful savory base for the curry. They add depth and a hint of sweetness to the dish.
- Optional Toasted Turmeric Coconut Flakes: These delicious coconut flakes add a delightful crunch and a beautiful golden color to the dish. They can be used as a topping for added texture and visual appeal.
Instant Pot Instructions (see notes for stovetop)
To make this in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, sauté the onion, carrot, garlic, ginger and spices using saute function. Add water or vegetable broth and the lentils. Close the lid.
Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes, and manually release. Yes, it is very fast! Small lentils will cook even faster!
- To make Lentil Curry on the stovetop allow about 45 minutes.
- Heat oil in a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot. Saute onion over medium heat until fragrant and golden, 4-5 minutes.
- Add garlic, ginger and carrots and cook another 3 minutes until you smell the garlic. Add salt, spices, tomato paste and stir for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the water, scraping up the browned bits. Add an additional ¼ cup water (so a total 2 ¼ cups water) and add the lentils.
- Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer on low heat until lentils are cooked through, about 15-25 minutes depending on the size of the lentils. Stir in the coconut milk.
- Adjust salt and heat (adding more cayenne pepper or chili flakes) to taste.
Lentil Curry Serving Suggestions
Serve lentil curry over warm basmati rice, over cauliflower rice, or over a big bowl of baby spinach, or with buttery naan, or all of the above! Top with cilantro and fresh chilies if you like! Garnish with optional Turmeric Coconut Chips below!
Turmeric Coconut Chips
Turmeric Coconut Chips add amazing texture and flavor! To make the Turmeric Coconut Chips, simply toast coconut flakes in a skillet with turmeric for 2-3 minutes! A delicious, crunchy topping for the creamy lentils. You know me and how much I love different textures in food! They add so much! These never seem to make it to the next day, unfortunately!
Storing The Lentil Curry
Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat in a microwave or on the stove.
This lentil curry is so satisfying and nourishing, perfect for the colder months when you are craving something a little heartier.
More Lenitl recipes you’ll love!
- Instant Pot Mulligatawny (Curried Indian Soup)
- Indian Shepherds Pie
- Indian Spinach Salad with Lentils & Cauliflower
- Chana Masala (Instant Pot or Stovetop)
- Vegan Tikka Masala (Stovetop or Instant Pot)
For more Globally-inspired Instant Pot Recipes check out some of my favorites here!
On the homefront. As some of you know, I went to India. It has was an amazing trip on so many levels. And as you can imagine, it was food heaven. The flavors!
I wanted to share a personal experience here with you about my trip. I brought my parent’s ashes to a very old city called Varanasi, where the River Ganges runs through. Hindus believe that when you release the ashes of the dead into their sacred river, souls will go straight to the Divine and be liberated from the cycle of reincarnation, a term they call “Moksha”.
I loved this idea and yearned for this for my parents. What I couldn’t predict, was how the act would actually affect me. It was a much-needed release, a letting go on a deeper level, that until the moment it happened, I didn’t even know I needed.
I left there feeling joyful, light and alive. I felt a sense of moksha (freedom, liberation) in my heart. I am constantly amazed at how wise are our souls are, and how they lead us directly to the experiences we need.
No life is without heartache. And sometimes, holding on to these for too long, we prevent ourselves from fully feeling all the beauty, aliveness and love that surrounds us right now. This heartache for me was like a very subtle grey filter, muting the colorful brilliance and experience of being alive. It was so subtle I hardly knew it was there.
Yet it was. And now it is not.
Now, I don’t believe you need to go to Varanasi specifically to have this experience. But the ritual was meaningful and I think we could create this wherever we are. Releasing pain doesn’t mean we stop loving those who are gone. It frees up our heart to love even more. At least that is how it feels to me.
Hope you are staying warm and cozy this week.
- 1–2 tablespoons coconut oil, or ghee(ghee tastes best)
- 1 onion, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, rough chopped ( 3–4 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons ginger root, finely chopped
- 2 cups carrots, diced (or sub 1 cup celery)
- 1 tablespoon cumin (seeds or ground)
- 2 teaspoons coriander ( seeds or ground)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric ( or 1 tablespoon fresh grated)
- 1 teaspoon paprika (not smoked, or sub chili powder)
- 2 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (optional, but elevates)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4–3/4 teaspoon cayenne (or chili flakes) more to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste ( or add 1 small-medium diced tomato)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup brown lentils (or large green- do not use split)
- 13.5 ounce can coconut milk (ADD AFTER YOU COOK THE LENTILS)
- Set Instant Pot to the Saute function, heat the oil and saute the onion, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and carrots, saute 3 more minutes, stirring. Add all the spices, salt and tomato paste, stir for 1 minute. Add the water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the brown lentils, give a stir and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes. If using other lentils, see notes. Manually release!
- Stir in the coconut milk.
- At this point, if you wanted, you could also add other veggies- peas, cauliflower, or a handful of spinach to wilt.
- Re-taste for salt, adding more if necessary (especially if adding a lot of veggies) and add more Garam Masala to taste, or chili flakes. If it seems watery, saute or keep on warm, uncovered for a bit. The Coconut Lentil Curry will also thicken slightly as it cools.
- Serve over a bed of baby spinach, over basmati rice (or both) or with homemade Naan.
- To make the Turmeric Coconut Chips, heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add ¼ cup coconut flakes and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon ground turmeric. Dry fry for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly until fragrant and lightly toasted. Turn off heat. These are too easy to burn, so don’t walk away!
STOVE TOP : To make on the stove top(about 45 mins total) heat oil in a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot. Saute onion over medium high heat until fragrant and golden, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and carrots and cook another 3 minutes until you smell the garlic. Add salt, spices, tomato paste and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the water, scraping up the browned bits. Add an additional ¼ cup water (so a total 2 ¼ cups water) and the lentils. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer on low heat until lentils are cooked through, about 25 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk. Adjust heat ( adding more cayenne or chili flakes. )
*** If using smaller lentils, decrease pressure cooking time. 5-7 minutes???
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 312
- Sugar: 3.2 g
- Sodium: 628.1 mg
- Fat: 18.8 g
- Saturated Fat: 15.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 29.8 g
- Fiber: 5.3 g
- Protein: 10.4 g
- Cholesterol: 5.1 mg
Keywords: lentil curry, coconut lentil curry, coconut curry lentils, coconut lentil curry, indian curry lentils, vegan curry lentils, instant pot curry lentils, instant pot lentil curry