Red Lentil Curry
This Red Lentil Curry is SO delicious and can be made in just 30 minutes. This is a Thai-inspired curry is healthy, vegan and gluten-free. Enjoy it on its own or serve it up with some rice!
Easy Lentil Curry
Have you ever tried Lentil Dal before? It’s a traditional Indian curry dish that’s made with red lentils and an assortment of spices.
This recipe for Red Lentil Curry is a similar dish but is made with Thai flavours. The texture of this curry is thicker than soup, like a thick and hearty stew.
Red lentils are one of my favourite types of lentils to cook with for their light flavour, and they’re a unique texture compared to other lentils. While other lentils tend to hold their shape more and have more of an al dente bite to them, red lentils when cooked up have a soft and creamy texture when cooked down. They’re really the perfect lentil to use for a delicious curry!
Why you’ll love this Red Lentil recipe
- Ready in 30 minutes. When you’re in a rush to prepare dinner on those busy weeknights, this Red Lentil Curry has your back. It’s easy to make and ready in just 30 minutes!
- Packed with flavour. Who has time for boring dinners? This curry is jam-packed with delicious Thai curry flavour.
- High in protein and fiber. Each serving of this curry has 10 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber!
- Meal prep friendly. Love meal prepping at the beginning of the week? Whip up a batch of this curry and keep it stored in the fridge or freezer for dinner time.
All About Red Lentils
What are Red Lentils?
Red Lentils are a type of lentils that are orange in colour and have been hulled and split. Because of this, they cook much quicker than lentils that haven’t been split. When cooked they create a really nice and creamy texture in a dish.
What are Red Lentils used for?
Red lentils are used in many different dishes from soups to curries to dahl. They are a very traditional ingredient to use in Indian cuisine.
What’s the difference between Green Lentils and Red Lentils?
Green lentils are a different variety of lentils that have a more earthy flavour and firm texture. Green lentils are often used in salads since they hold their shape and texture well. Red lentils are often used in soups and stews since they become soft and creamy.
Are Red Lentils healthy?
Yes! Red Lentils are very healthy. A 200 grams serving of lentils has 230 calories, 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber making lentils a great healthy vegetarian option that will keep you full.
Do Red Lentils cook faster than Brown Lentils?
Yes! Because red lentils are hulled and split, they cook much faster than brown or green lentils.
Do you have to soak Red Lentils?
Nope! One of the beautiful things about red lentils is how easily they break down as they cook. They become really soft on their own, so there’s no need to soak them.
You do however want to RINSE your red lentils before cooking. Do this by placing your lentils in a strainer and running water over them until the water runs clear (about 60 seconds.)
Rinsing red lentils is important because if you don’t rinse them, they can have a slightly bitter taste.
Do I need to cook Red Lentils before adding them to a curry?
Again nope! Some dried lentils and beans are best if they’re precooked before adding them to your dish, (like kidney beans) otherwise they don’t soften up enough.
Red lentils are the only lentils that break down when they cook, so you can add them directly to your curry.
Do Red Lentils need to be boiled?
While red lentils need to be boiled to be cooked, if they are being boiled in a recipe like this curry, they don’t need to be pre-boiled beforehand.
How to cook Red Lentils for Curry
Add some oil to your pot and then add in the onions, ginger and garlic and cook them down for 2 minutes until the onions are translucent. Then add in the celery and carrot and let everything cook down for 5 minutes.
Rinse the lentils and then add them to the pot along with the curry paste and seasoning, stir everything together. Then add the broth and bring it all to a boil before turning it to low and letting it simmer for about 15 minutes.
Once the lentils are soft and tender to your liking, the curry is done! You can top it off with some fresh cilantro and chilli flakes if you like. Enjoy it on its own or serve it with some rice.
How long to cook Red Lentils
Red lentils are a bit different in texture than green or black lentils and have a softer texture. They can become mushy if overcooked. (Though this “mushy” texture is great in recipes like Dal) Red lentils are best cooked for about 15-20 minutes.
In this recipe, if you prefer your lentils with more of a bite to them, only cook for about 10 minutes.
Making it into Lentil Curry with Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is a staple ingredient in many Thai curries. For this particular recipe, I don’t use coconut milk, but if you want to make this into a creamier curry with coconut milk you can definitely do so!
Just substitute 1 cup of the vegetable broth with 1 cup of coconut milk.
The coconut milk won’t add too much coconut flavour but does add a really creamy element to the curry. This is because coconut milk is high in fat. If you prefer a lighter version of the curry, you can stick to using all vegetable broth.
Tips for making this red lentil recipe perfectly
- Rinse your lentils before adding them to the pot. Red lentils can have a bit of a bitter taste to them if they’re not properly rinsed. Rinse them in a strainer until the water runs clear.
- Make sure not to cook the veggies on too high of a heat. You don’t want them to brown too much, so medium heat or medium-high heat (depending on your stove) is best.
- Start with 1 tbsp of red curry paste and then add more at the end if needed. Some brands of curry paste may be spicier than others, so if you don’t like it too spicy it’s best to start with less and add more if needed. Also, remember to check the label of the red curry you buy to make sure it’s vegetarian!
- Want a coconut Thai lentil curry? Mix in 1/3 cup of full-fat coconut milk before serving.
How to store, freeze and reheat Lentil Curry
Fridge: Store leftovers of this recipe in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 7 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove. If the curry ever becomes too thick when reheating, simply add some more vegetable stock.
Freezer: This recipe freezes well. Store in the freezer in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost on the counter or in the microwave and reheat on the stove.
What to eat with Red Lentil Curry
There are so many different ways you can enjoy this Red Lentil Curry! Here are a few great options of how you can serve this:
- Serve it over rice (jasmine rice for a more traditional Thai dish, or any rice you love)
- Serve it with other grains like quinoa or farro.
- Serve it with spaghetti noodles (almost like a bolognese sauce)
- Enjoy it as a side with some peanut butter tofu.
- Sautee some green veggies like broccoli or bok choy to serve on top of the lentil curry
- Serve with crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, cilantro and lime to garnish!
Red Lentil Curry FAQ
Not at all! Lentils are low in fat and high in fiber so they will keep you feeling full. Each serving of this curry has just 4.5 grams of fat.
Lentil curry can be made with many different ingredients. Thai curry paste, curry powder, and spices are often found in lentil curries. This particular recipe uses Thai red curry paste, but you can use any type of curry paste you like.
One serving of this curry has 184 calories in it. You can serve it with some rice to make it more of a complete meal.
Yes! Lentil curry is a delicious and healthy dish that is naturally vegan, gluten-free and refined sugar-free. Each serving of this lentil curry has 9 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber in it.
More lentil recipes to try
If you tried this Red Lentil Curry or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!Print
Red Lentil Curry
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Cook
- Cuisine: Thai
- Diet: Vegan
This red lentil curry is SO tasty and comes together in under 30 minutes for a delicious healthy vegetarian dinner!
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 1-inch cube ginger, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed* (see note)
- 1–2 tbsp red curry paste
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (gluten-free if needed)
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 2 1/4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- Heat the olive oil in a pot on medium-high heat then add the onion ginger and garlic and let cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the carrot and celery and cook for 5 minutes until all the veggies are tender.
- Add in the lentils, red curry paste, maple syrup, soy sauce lime juice and vegetable broth and mix together.
- Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are tender.
- Serve with fresh cilantro.
To rinse the red lentils, add them to a strainer and run under some water for about 60 seconds or until the water runs clear.
Check the brand of red curry paste you use to make sure it’s vegetarian/vegan-friendly. Some brands of red curry paste have shrimp in them.
Don’t cook the veggies on too high heat. You don’t want them to brown too much. Cook on medium-high or if your stove runs hot on medium heat.
Make sure to rinse the lentils well before adding them to the curry. Red lentils can be bitter if they are not properly rinsed. Rinse them in a strainer until the water runs clear.
Start with 1 tbsp of red curry paste then add more as needed. Some brands may be spicer than others, so if you don’t like it too spicy, start with less and add more as needed.
- Serving Size: 1/6th recipe
- Calories: 184
- Sugar: 4.5g
- Sodium: 400mg
- Fat: 4.5g
- Carbohydrates: 27g
- Fiber: 10.5g
- Protein: 9g
Keywords: how to make red lentil curry, curry with red lentils, vegan curry with lentils
I tried it tonight and it tastes delicious – also with certain modifications (thanks to the person who added yellow curry powder and asafoetida) , I added lemon juice as I had no lime, half of the onion as it is hard on my digestion, and rice noodles. Leftovers, yeah – no cooking tomorrow and it will be hot here.
Glad you enjoyed the recipe! 🙂
I added a couple dried red chilis for some zing and it was terrific!
Happy you enjoyed it Liz! 🙂
Made this spontaneously with no time to run to the store, so had to make do with what I had on hand. No onion, curry paste, lime or lemon. Substituted with chili powder, yellow curry powder and asafoetida. And it came out GREAT! But I’ll definitely make sure to have some citrus juice on hand next time I make it.
So happy you enjoyed the recipe Eva!
Used coconut milk as suggested instead of vegetable broth and it was delicious! Love this recipe.
Glad you enjoyed Chris!
I made this today and it is fabulous and made with ingredients I always have on hand. Such a great, quick, healthy recipe. Thanks!
You’re welcome! Happy you enjoyed!
I made this recipe for my meat free January, healthy eating program. It is delicious and ingredients are perfectly balanced and flavours are just amazing. I recommend this recipe … whether vegetarian, or as a tasty side dish to your everyday meals!
So happy you enjoyed it Denise!!
I’m not able to find a vegetarian version of the red curry paste, is it ok to use curry powder as a substitute?
Hi Mandy! You can use curry powder however just keep in mind this will definitely change the flavour of the curry overall and it wont be very strong. I use the Thai Kitchen brand of vegetarian curry paste and it’s delicious!
How so simple can be so tasty? Especially that I thought that lentils can’t go without coconut milk… Luckily, I was wrong! It’s super simple and tastes perrrfect 😀 Thank you Jessica for this recipe
Can you use red curry powder? I have Thai red curry powder but not paste
Hi Alissa! yes I think that should work fine. You may need to adjust the amount if it isn’t as strong as the pate-start with a bit then add more powder if needed!
Jess, this looks so delicious! I liked your almond flour pancakes recipe, so I’ll be giving this a try when I have the time.
Hope you enjoy them Samara!
Made this last night and it was SO delicious! I love how quick, simple and tasty it is. Can’t wait to make it again and double the proportions so I can have double the leftovers.
So happy you enjoyed Lindsay! 🙂
This is one of our favorite recipes! it’s super simple and tastes amazing and is really filling!! Plus, we always have all the ingredients on hand -I have made it without celery when I didn’t have celery and it was still really good! I love a recipe that I don’t have to run to the store to get ingredients for!
Thanks Theresa! So happy you liked the recipe. Always love to have recipes on hand that I already have the ingredients for in my kitchen!
Absolutely loved this recipe! It was super easy and is packed with flavor. We put it over some rice and added a bit more sriracha to the top. Will be a repeat in my house 🙂
So happy you liked it Kelsey 🙂
Super easy for a quick dinner. I sometimes add some extra vegetables or Chickpeas.
Thank you 🙂
This is one of my go-to recipes. It’s easy and delicious over coconut rice. And the added veggies give it more flavour. I love adding some Thai chilies to make it a bit spicier, too.
Happy to hear you loved the recipe Ashton!
Thank you! So happy you liked it!
What I love about this is that it sounds just so EASY! 🙂 and delicious! This sounds so cozy for right now!
Thanks so much Britt!
I love red lentil curry. Yours looks so flavorful and delicious! 🙂
Thanks so much Ela!