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!

two bowls of red lentil curry and rice with spoons in them and a grey napkin on the side

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!

Do I need 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.

How to make Red Curry Lentils

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, mixing 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.

What to serve with this 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!

How long do you 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.

Tips for making this 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.

Storage tips

  • 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.
  • This recipe freezes well. Defrost on the counter and reheat on the stove.
Red lentil curry in a white bowl topped with cilantro

More lentil recipes to try

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Red lentil curry in a white bowl topped with cilantro

Red Lentil Curry

  • Author: Jessica Hoffman
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: Thai
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This red lentil curry is SO tasty and comes together in under 30 minutes for a delicious healthy vegetarian dinner! 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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) 
  • 12 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

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pot on medium-high heat then add the onion ginger and garlic and let cook for 2 minutes. 
  2. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 5 minutes until all the veggies are tender. 
  3. Add in the lentils, red curry paste, maple syrup, soy sauce lime juice and vegetable broth and mix together. 
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are tender. 
  5. Serve with fresh cilantro.

Notes

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. 


Nutrition

  • 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