Creamy Coconut, Brown Lentil & Vegetable Curry

10/21/19

(Last updated 07/15/22)

You won't believe how yummy and satisfying this creamy coconut milk and brown lentil curry is! It's a fabulous beginners curry that's speedy to whip up on nights you’re after a low-fuss meal. Packed full of vegetables, this vegan curry has a pleasant and relatively mild flavour, with just a teeny smidge of spicy kick.

A bowl of lentil, vegetable and coconut curry.

When you’re after a speedy nutritious dinner idea, it’s hard to beat this curry.

As a nutritionist, I’m often asked for meat-free easy and healthy dinner recipes. Legume-based dishes like this (and this red lentil and spinach dahl!) are my go-to. As a source of plant protein and dietary fibre, a tin or two of legumes are great to keep in pantry reserves to boost soups, stews and curries!

While curries are a perfect dish for adventuring into complex and incredible flavours in the kitchen, this recipe contains just a couple of fun, simple ingredients, like ginger and curry powder, making it a lovely flavourful beginners curry.

Ingredients & Substitutions

This coconut lentil curry contains simple ingredients, many that are shelf-staple:

  • Aromatics, like garlic, onion and ginger. These vegetables offer deep flavour and aroma to dishes when cooked.
  • Mild Indian curry powder, a blend of spices typically including turmeric, cumin, ginger and black pepper. I used a generic supermarket blend here for ease (but you could even try making your own!).
  • Mixed veggies. Feel free to use fresh or frozen – curries, like this, can be a great way to use up whatever looks a bit sad and limp in your crisper! Carrot, broccoli, peas and beans work great.
  • Tinned tomatoes help thicken the curry and add a tangy sweetness.
  • Tinned coconut milk adds liquid without making it too watered down. The sweetness also helps counteract the spices, helping balance flavours.
  • Tinned lentils. While dry lentils take a bit of time to cook, tinned are ready-to-go, making them convenient on days you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen! Brown lentils hold their shape well in cooking, making them great in curries. You could sub for tinned chickpeas or another bean type.
  • Lemon. A squeeze will brighten and add a sharp element to your curry.
  • Chili flakes for a spicy kick. Add to taste.

To further boost the protein, while keeping it plant-based, add a block of cubed firm tofu to your shopping list💪

Frying pan with the cooked coconut lentil curry.

Nutrition Q&A

Here are a few commonly asked questions on curry and brown lentil nutrition:

  • Is curry healthy? Curry is an umbrella word for a meat or vegetarian dish consisting of a gravy or sauce, flavoured with aromatics and spices. They can be incredibly nutritious, but like anything in nutrition it’s a sum of its parts.

    Curries with plenty of veggies and a good source of protein (whether legumes or lean meat) can help make for a filling meal with nutrient diversity. Curries with oodles of oil or cream may be better as a sometimes food.

    As for spices, while used primarily for their culinary powers (to flavour food, add colour…), they bring nutritional perks to the table. For example, turmeric, a spice that gives curry a vibrant yellow curry, contains curcumin which is considered a powerful antioxidant, which may help fight oxidative damage which may otherwise damage cells (1).

  • What’s the nutritional deal with brown lentils? Brown lentils are a great source of filling prebiotic fibre, a type that feeds good bugs in our gut that promote digestive function.

    They’re also a good source of plant protein, about a third-highest by weight of any legume or nut (after soybeans and hemp seeds). It’s good to keep in mind, they’re considered an ‘incomplete’ protein (meaning they don’t contain all essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, needed for good health), which is why enjoying a varied diet will help you get in the full spectrum. Easy as🤙

Thanks for reading! Are you after more legume based plant-forward meal ideas? Try this Chili Sin Carne (vegan chili) with dark chocolate!🍫

Creamy Coconut, Brown Lentil & Vegetable Curry

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Rating:

Ingredients:  

  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cm thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, grated
  • Tbsp curry powder
  • 2 cups diced mixed veggies (e.g. carrot, courgette, broccoli)
  • 1 400g tin pureed tomatoes
  • 1 400g tin coconut milk
  • 1 400g tin brown lentils
  • 1 small pack of tofu (optional)
  • 1 big handful of baby spinach
  • 1 small lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: a pinch of chill flakes
  • Serve with: rice or quinoa

Method:

  • Add the oil to a large deep fry-pan and turn heat onto low.
  • Once the fry-pan is hot, sauté onions, garlic and ginger for five minutes or until the onions are soft. Add the curry powder and veggies and sauté for another two minutes.
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, coconut milk and cubed tofu (if using), and mix well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Open tin of lentils. Drain liquid and rinse. Add to curry, along with the spinach. Mix, and then simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the juice of ½ lemon (reserve the other half to serve as wedges with your curry on the side) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, taste test and adjust with extra salt or lemon juice if needed – the salt and lemon juice will bring it all alive.

Notes:

Sensitive to spice? For a milder curry drop the curry powder down to 1 Tbsp.
Wanting to bump up the protein, but keep it plant-based? Add in cubed tofu squares in step 3.
Wanting to change the protein to something animal-based e.g. chicken? Simply cook the meat in step two, adding it after you’ve cooked the onions, garlic and ginger. Feel free to keep the tinned lentils! This will no longer be a vegan or vegetarian friendly dish.
Garnish ideas: Coriander, chili flakes and a spoonful of dairy or coconut yoghurt.

 

Leave a Comment & Rate this Recipe

If you enjoyed this dish, please consider giving it a star rating when you post a comment. Star ratings help others discover my recipes online (and your reviews make my day! 🙂 ). Happy cooking and baking. Danijela x

Recipe Rating




    14 Comments

    • Hi Elizabeth, thanks for your comment. I’ve updated it (thanks!) – it serves 3-4 🙂

  1. Made this recipe with chicken in-place of the tofu like you suggested in the notes. Was delicious and the family loved it. This will definitely be a regular in our household, so quick, easy and delicious!

    • Thanks for your lovely comment Abbey, appreciate the feedback! Glad the family loved it xx

  2. 5 stars
    So very tasty. I substituted onion with sliced leek greens sautéed in garlic infused oil and used chicken in place of tofu. Will certainly be making it again. Barbara

    • Thank you for your lovely comment and 5 star review Barbara! I love the substitutions you made, I’ll have to give that a go another time.

  3. We’ve just had this delicious and satisfying dish today. Just to be able to use what we had on hand, we exchanged the curry for garam masala and kale instead of broccoli, We added root curcuma along with the ginger . Lovely lunch so THANKS for this inspiration 😀

  4. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner and added chicken and some extra veges.
    This is such a easy recipe that is inexpensive and easy to pack in lots of nutrients into a meal.
    This was so yummy and everyone enjoyed it, my partner added chilli for a extra kick.
    When you sit in traffic and don’t get home super early, this is so easy to whip up!

  5. Am I missing something but I don’t see mention of the diced vegetables on the method. Are they steamed or roasted beforehand? Or just cooked in the same pan? Thanks

    • Hi Ana! Thanks for your message. On step 2 you add the diced vegetables to the pan, along with the curry powder. They can be raw or frozen – either way they’ll cook in the pan 🙂 I hope that helps x