Vegan Lentil Curry (Lentil Vegetable Curry)
Vegan Lentil Curry is a healthful one-pot meal packed with layers of flavor, using ingredients easy to find at your grocery store. Perfect for a meatless Monday dinner!
The culinary school I went to focused on very classical French techniques (something like a lentil pasta sauce would be unheard of in the classical textbooks). Before dawn, the Baking students would get started on all-butter croissants.
At the same time, the students running the school’s restaurant would be roasting veal bones for stock. An hour later, the Breakfast & Pantry class would come in and begin making veggie quiche and bacon in the oven.
The Pastry students came in later and would go to the storeroom refrigerator to retrieve an ungodly amount of butter for their tasks that day. The rhythm of the school was the same, day after day, year after year.
And in the middle of all of the beef bones, sockeye salmon and eggshells, was a chef instructor who ate a vegan, raw food diet. Well, he ate that diet at home.
His job made it impossible to eat that way while he was instructing, as he had to taste all of his student’s work. But yeah, in his free time, he was a vegan.
Because of him, the students learned at least one vegan dish in those school kitchens that were usually full of roasted chicken and poached eggs.
He taught some classes how to make savory oatmeal for dinner. On my rotation, this assignment was vegan lentil curry.
About this vegan lentil curry:
Whenever I’ve had a few days or a weekend (or a vacation!) of eating kind of poorly, Greek yogurt pasta and this vegan lentil curry are like reset buttons for me.
The multi-step cooking technique for this vegan curry recipe really shows you how easy it is to build flavor, with any type of ingredients.
Start this lentil vegetable curry by cooking some onion and carrots, and then you’ll be adding some spices, fresh ginger and tomato paste. You’ll cook those things a few minutes to really toast the spices and brown the tomato paste a little bit.
Then finally, you add your lentils and liquid and cook until the lentils are tender. Stir in some coconut milk (also the star ingredient in my coconut risotto) at the end for vegan creaminess!
I like to serve this vegan lentil recipe with white or brown rice, or even quinoa, to fill me up a bit more, but that’s up to you!
What is in this vegan curry recipe?
- carrots – you’ll need two medium carrots for this vegan lentil curry recipe, or three small ones.
- onion – I like regular ol’ white onion for this lentil vegetable curry, but a sweet yellow onion is great here, too.
- garlic – this is essential to build flavor!
- tomato paste – this adds acidity and color to this vegan lentil recipe.
- curry powder – I like Madras curry powder here. Check out Food 52’s guide all about Indian curry powders to learn more about the different types that are available.
- ginger – grated FRESH ginger is essential. Buy extra so you can make a batch of pear muffins.
- red pepper flakes – just a pinch, to add a little spice.
- vegetable broth – if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, you can use chicken broth here.
- lentils – any color works for this vegan curry recipe; more on that later.
- coconut milk – I like to use full fat coconut milk to add richness to this dish.
- white or brown rice – for serving.
- pomegranate seeds – for garnish. These are also beautiful in Thanksgiving Fruit Salad and on a Valentine’s Day Snacks board.
- mint leaves – for garnish.
- lime wedges – for garnish.
What type of lentils should I use?
You can use any variety of dried lentils for this vegan curry recipe. I’ve made this vegan lentil recipe with brown, green and beluga lentils, and it turns out great each time.
Cooking time may vary by a few minutes based on what kind of lentil you are using, so just test for doneness as the vegan lentil curry simmers and adjust cooking time accordingly. If you feel like you need to add more broth or water, do it.
What to serve with this vegan lentil recipe:
I find that once I add a serving of rice alongside this vegan lentil curry, it’s a complete meal in a bowl!
You could also make some pickled jalapeños to add more spice to this curry!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15 ounces) coconut milk
- Prepared white or brown rice, for serving (optional)
- Fresh mint, lime wedges and pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)
- In Dutch oven or other medium pot with tight-fitting lid, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots and onion and cook 4 to 6 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in garlic, tomato paste, curry powder, ginger, salt and red pepper flakes. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Stir in broth and lentils; heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 35 minutes or until most liquid is absorbed by lentils, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in coconut milk; increase heat to medium. Cook uncovered 5 minutes or until curry thickens slightly, stirring frequently.
- Serve curry with rice and garnish with mint, lime wedges and pomegranate seeds, if desired.
Home Chef Tip: You can use any variety of dried lentils for this curry. I've made it with brown, green and beluga lentils, and it turns out great each time. Cooking time may vary by a few minutes based on what kind of lentil you are using, so just test for doneness as the curry simmers and adjust cooking time accordingly.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 367Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 777mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 6gSugar: 4gProtein: 8g
Nutrition information is for curry only. Does not include rice.