This lentil curry with green lentils, coconut milk, tomato paste and simple spices is an old recipe of mine that was screaming for picture makeovers. I also re-tested it to make slow cooker, Instant Pot and stove top friendly.
It is creamy, packed with delicious Indian flavors and healthy! Reader’s husbands of Indian descent give this lentil curry recipe 5 stars.:)
Lentils for Lentil Curry Recipe?
As name suggests, green lentils are a default. Brown lentils will work just as fine. Both kinds are the most popular and retain their shape well. So, your coconut lentil curry will have a texture.
You can use red lentils if that is all you have. Just know that they fall apart during cooking which is better for a soup. But you can make easy lentil curry with red lentils too.
Quick Fact: Lentils are a source of protein, rich in iron, magnesium and folate. You do not have to soak lentils which makes them a fast cooking legume.
Best Coconut Milk for Coconut Lentil Curry
Not all canned coconut milk is the same. I sure have my favorites.
You sure want to use full fat and not low fat coconut milk that has been diluted with water. Coconut milk fat is “good fat” that can lower your bad LDL cholesterol level and increase good HDL cholesterol level, lower blood pressure and risk of heart disease (source). So, please eat it. In moderation like everything else good for you.:)
I like to buy brands that have clean ingredients list: coconut cream, water and guar gum at the most. Many cheaper brands contain preservatives. Also even some organic brands contain lumps. Organic and BPA free cans are a nice bonus.
My favorites are: 365, Thai kitchen, Trader Joe’s (coconut cream) and Compliments.
Freezer Meal, Instant Pot or Slow Cooker
So, you have 3 options to cook this green lentil curry. It depends whether you want come home to “an Indian restaurant”, go for a quick walk or rather quickly whip it up on a stove top while sipping on a glass of wine and listening to Frank Sinatra.
It is also a freezer meal. You cook dinner from frozen in 1 minute. Isn’t that amazing?! Check out my full list of healthy freezer meals. I’m obsessed!
All options and cooking methods are outlined in the printable recipe card below.
What to Serve Lentil Stew With?
My absolute favorite way to serve this curry lentil stew is with a fresh salad. With Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, salt, pepper and oil. It gives it another layer of flavors. Like yogurt is a must-have accompaniment to curry in Indian cuisine. So is a simple lettuce salad or cucumber and tomato salad for Ukrainian me.
Toasted naan bread or whole wheat pita goes amazing too. And plain yogurt to offset some spiciness. Although this lentil curry dal is not that spicy to keep it kid friendly.
Can I Freeze Leftovers?
Leftovers keep fresh in the fridge for 5-6 days.
Or you can freeze lentil curry in an airtight container for up to 3 months. I prefer glass. Thaw curry in a fridge overnight or on a counter for 5-6 hours. If you need dinner ASAP, simmer frozen curry covered on low with a splash of water, stirring occasionally.
More Yummy Healthy Curry Recipes to Try:
- Thai chicken curry that comes together in 25 minutes!
- Thai mango curry with black or green lentils, baby potatoes and peanuts – SO GOOD!
- Thai shrimp curry with butternut squash in 30 minutes in one skillet.
- Yellow chicken curry with cauliflower – chick full of veggies in dreamy curry sauce.
Watch Olena Make Lentil Curry
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Green Lentil Curry
Easy Lentil Curry Recipe with green lentils, coconut milk and simple Indian spices. Cook on a stove, in slow cooker or Instant Pot, or make a freezer meal.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stove, Instant Pot or Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: Indian
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp coriander, ground
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 14 oz can coconut milk, full fat
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 2 cups green lentils, uncooked & rinsed
- 3 cups water
- Cilantro and/or green onions, for garnish
- Greek yogurt and avocado, for serving
- Stovetop: Preheat dutch oven or heavy bottom medium pot on low-medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add onion and garlic, cook until golden brown (5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add turmeric, coriander, curry powder, cumin and salt; cook for another 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
- Add coconut milk, tomato paste, water, lentils and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover and cook on low for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
- Slow Cooker: Preheat small skillet on low-medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add onion and garlic, cook until golden brown (5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add turmeric, coriander, curry powder, cumin and salt; cook for another 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
- Transfer to a slow cooker and add coconut milk, tomato paste, water and green lentils. Stir to combine, cover and cook on High for at least 3 – 4 hours or on Low for 6 – 8 hours.
- Instant Pot: In Instant Pot, add ingredients in exact same order: onion, garlic, turmeric, coriander, curry powder, cumin, salt, green lentils, water, coconut milk and tomato paste. Do not stir!
- Cover, set pressure valve to Sealing and press Pressure Cooking on High for 25 minutes. After do Quick Release to release the pressure by turning the valve to Venting.
- Serve hot garnished with cilantro/green onions.
Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw on a stovetop covered on low.
Freezer Meal for Instant Pot: In a gallon size Ziplock bag, add all ingredients, except water and garnishes, finishing with tomato paste on top (very important for Instant Pot). Let as much air out as possible, seal and freeze for up to 3 months. Pressure cook on High from frozen with 3 cups of water for 25 minutes with Quick Release.
Freezer Meal for Slow Cooker: Pan fry onion and garlic with spices sauteed for 30 seconds at the end. Transfer to a gallon size Ziploc bag with remaining ingredients, except water and garnishes. Let as much air out as possible, seal and freeze for up to 3 months. Then cook from frozen with 3 cups of water on Low for 9 hours or on High for 5 hours.
Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.