Creamy Coconut, Brown Lentil & Vegetable Curry

10/21/19

(Updated 07/05/23)

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 an easy and hearty nutritious dinner idea, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat this vegan-friendly curry.

While curries are a perfect kitchen dish for adventuring into complex flavours, this recipe contains just a few fun and simple ingredients to explore, like ginger and curry powder. This makes it a lovely beginner’s curry recipe to venture into the world of.

As a Registered Nutritionist, I’m all for plant-forward recipes that celebrate legumes, like lentils, chickpeas and beans. These versatile, yet humble, ingredients are not only affordable, but great pantry staples to boost the plant protein and dietary fibre in meals (like in this red lentil and spinach dahl!).

Ingredients & Substitutions

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

  • Aromatics. We’re using onion, garlic and ginger here. When sautéed they work together to add complexity and depth to the dish.
  • Mild Indian curry powder. A blend of spices, typically including turmeric, cumin, ginger and black pepper. For ease, I just use a generic supermarket blend (but you could totally 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 the crisper. Carrot, broccoli, peas and beans work great.
  • Tinned tomatoes. Help create our sauce base, thickening the curry and adding a tangy sweetness that helps balance the spices and coconut milk.
  • Tinned coconut milk. Like the tomatoes, coconut milk helps build our sauce base, while adding a luxurious creaminess.
  • Tinned lentils. A convenient read-to-go option – simply open the can, drain the liquid and rinse! Brown lentils hold their shape well in cooking, making them great in curries. Feel free to substitute for chickpeas or another typer of bean.
  • Lemon. A squeeze adds brightness and freshness to the dish, help to balance the flavours.
  • 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 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serving Size: 4
Rating:

Ingredients:  

  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, grated (around 1 Tbsp)
  • 4 tsp mild curry powder
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • 2 cups diced mixed veggies (e.g. carrot, broccoli, beans)
  • 1 400g tin pureed tomatoes
  • 1 400g tin coconut milk
  • 1 400g tin brown lentils
  • 300g firm tofu
  • 2 packed cups of baby spinach
  • 1 small lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 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

5 from 8 votes (3 ratings without comment)

Recipe Rating




    18 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

  6. 5 stars
    Hands down the best home made vegan dish I have had. And it was so easy and nutritionish!! Thanks again chef, lifesaver 🙏

  7. 5 stars
    Such a great dish instead of tofu I added a can of chickpeas. And also added kumara (sweet potato). I cooked some garlic and turmeric rice and accompanied with garlic naan. Yum.