The Best Curried Coconut Lentils


Curried lentils are bold with awesome flavors that speak comfort and well-being. I love to cook at home, it’s like therapy and provides relaxation for me.  The weekends are always busy and cooking a great curry for my wife and me is one of the easiest meals to cook. I call this dish curry in a hurry because it’s as easy as it gets and being able to cook a well-balanced nutritional meal in 35 minutes is pretty amazing.

Curried Red Lentils

Cooking Curry in Dubai:

For me, curried lentils are a dish that reminds me of the Middle East, Dubai, the desert, and authentic, aromatic, vibrant, amazing Indian curries.
I love curried red lentils with coconut, a simple quick meal that is all about warm flavors. There is an art to blending spices to perfection and a great curry spice mix is exactly that; it’s an art that has been perfected for over 1000 years. In India, a precise selection of spices is a matter of national or regional cultural traditions, religious practices, and family preferences.
I worked as a Chef Saucier and Sous Chef for 2 years at the Dubai Hilton in the United Arab Emirates. The kitchen crew consisted of cooks from India and Sri Lanka.  They cooked some of the best curries I’ve ever had. We ordered our food twice a week from Europe. From Dover sole to foie gras, to cucumbers and lettuce; only the finest products were shipped fresh from the markets in Paris. It was nouvelle cuisine in the desert of the UAE, stressing freshness, seasons, lightness, and clarity of flavor.
Working with chefs from India and Sri Lanka and learning how to cook authentic curries was very special. The curries with their vibrant yellow colors, the wonderful smell of slowly simmered spices, and the coconut that added the sweetness and made the curry so creamy were amazing. I remember soaking the shredded coconut in hot water, and pressing the soaked shredded coconut flakes by hand to extract the coconut milk used to cook the curries.

Food cooked by Chefs for Chefs :

Every day before dinner service, we had a chef’s table in the middle of the kitchen.
The chef’s table wasn’t about Dover sole, micro cress, and foams. It was about enjoying simple food, cooked by chefs for chefs and relaxing before service started, this experience created a great camaraderie. Chefs from India, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, England, Scotland, and France, all take their turns cooking “simple food” for the daily chef’s table. Our chefs from India created magic, cooking and simmering the bold flavors of great curries. Using spices like turmeric, cumin seeds, chili peppers, cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom. Did you know, that the average yellow curry powder you find in stores is not used when cooking an authentic curry?

curried lentils

Curries and Spices :

We live in a wonderful world of spices herbs and seasonings, and if you research the spices used in curries, you find some amazing unexpected benefits.

is the spice that gives curry its yellow color. Called 
“the golden spice” has played an important role in India’s traditional medicine for centuries as a treatment for inflammatory conditions. Extensive research shows that turmeric may be one of the most effective nutritional supplements in existence.

Cardamom may help lower blood pressure, most likely due to its antioxidant and diuretic properties. The antioxidant compounds in cardamom may help protect cells from damage and slow down and prevent inflammation in your body.

is also an antidote for an upset stomach. Cinnamon may improve some key risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.

helps relieve stomach aches and treats digestive upsets, and may lower blood sugar by activating certain enzymes. In fact, it’s powerful enough that people with low blood sugar should use it cautiously.

aids digestion by increasing the activity of digestive proteins. It may also reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

is among the healthiest spices on the planet and is one of the very few “superfoods” actually worthy of that term. Ginger is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There’s some evidence, in both humans and animals, that ginger can lead to significant reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol, total cholesterol, and blood triglyceride levels

Bottom line, a good curry is a blend of different spices that balances intense flavors and can range from mild to hot. The spices provide not only an array of vitamins and minerals but also a variety of health benefits.

Turmeric Milk and Honey

If you’ve never had turmeric milk with honey you will be in for a pleasant surprise, both in regards to flavor and nutrition.  There is something said about warm milk. I’m sure you have heard or even had a glass of warm milk before bedtime to relax. I’m not sure how effective warm milk is to help you sleep and all the research I have done did not produce any evidence that warm milk will make you fall asleep.
Sometimes you just have to believe in the relaxing and soothing power of a warm beverage to fall asleep.

Coconut Milk and Curries:

l love everything about curries and coconut. Usually, I use full-strength coconut milk to cook my curried lentils. Coconuts are one of those foods that are between the good and the bad food department. Used in moderation coconut milk has great health benefits, but like everything else consuming too much can cause problems. Canned coconut milk has a thick consistency and a rich, creamy texture, however, it is high in calories and saturated fat. I recommend using good quality organic unsweetened Coconut Milk. You can make fresh coconut milk at home, by combining unsweetened shredded coconut with warm water in a blender. Puree the mixture, then press and strain through a cheesecloth.

curried lentils

Lentil Summary:

Red lentils are easy to cook and don’t require any soaking prior and can be ready in less than 20 minutes. Curried lentils are one of my favorite go-to recipes as it’s easy to prepare with pantry staples and quick to make. We all know our schedules are busy, so cooking a homemade, quick, and healthy meal in 30-35 minutes fits the bill. It’s best to give the lentils a rinse before cooking, to eliminate impurities.
Lentils are an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. Brown, green, yellow, red, or black — lentils are low in calories, rich in iron and folate, and an excellent source of protein.

curried lentils

curried lentils

Quite Possibly the Best Curried Coconut Lentils

The Taste

Savory spices like cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, hot peppers, and bay leaf
give the curried red lentils a deep, vibrant flavor.
You will love the fact that you’re cooking a meal that is really, really tasty,
inexpensive, full of bold flavors, and great nutrition.

The Process

I call it, curry in a hurry and it’s as easy as it gets.
You have to admit, being able to cook a well-balanced nutritional meal in 35 minutes is pretty amazing.
I believe dicing the onions is the most stressful task in cooking this recipe.

The Verdict

You would think there is a set formula for a curry powder blend, however, there is no standard recipe.
So roll up your sleeves, slice and dice, dive in, and, cook a great curry by creating your own spice blend.
You decide how much heat you want in the recipe by adding more peppers and flakes.

Chef Tips

I like to cook my curried lentils until they are soft and thick and collapse into a rough purée.
Feel free to add more water if you prefer a more soup-like consistency.
I cook bigger batches of the curried lentil and use them for lunch or dinner throughout the week.



Curried Red Dahl

Quite Possibly the Best Curried Coconut Lentils

Chef Norbert
I love curried red lentils with coconut, a simple quick meal that is all about warm flavors. They are easy to cook and they don’t require any soaking prior and can be ready in less than 20 minutes.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course, Vegan, Vegetarian
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6
Calories 562 kcal



Wash Lentils

  • First, wash and inspect the dry lentils. Simply pop them in a sieve under running water and check for any debris/other grains and make sure they’re rinsed and clean.
    2 cups red lentils

Cook and brown onions

  • In a Dutch oven heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions, and spread them out evenly using a wooden spoon or a spatula. Cook onions slowly for about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir onions every few minutes to get a lightly browned even color and to release that sweet natural flavor hidden in the onions.
    2 tbsp sesame oil

Add spices and lentils

  • At medium heat, add the chopped garlic, minced ginger, and spices. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes to release the flavor of the spices. Add lentils and cook, stirring for 1 minute to infuse the lentils with the wonderful flavor of the spices. Add canned tomatoes, and chopped cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Add water and coconut milk, and reserve 1/4 cup of coconut milk for the garnish of lentils.
    2 each onion, 3 each garlic, 2 tbsp fresh ginger, 1/8 tsp cardamom, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, ground, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp cumin, ground, 2 tbsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp coriander, ground, 2 cans tomatoes, crushed, 1/2 cup cilantro, 1 pinch black pepper, ground, 2 can coconut milk, 1 cup water, 1 each lime cut into wedges

Cook lentils

  • Cover and simmer lentils over medium heat for about 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked. Beware, red lentils cook much quicker than other dried legumes, you want to cook the lentils until they are soft, thick, and collapsed into a rough purée.


  • Serve in a bowl, garnish with coconut milk, lime wedges, cilantro, and cherry tomatoes. Serve with some plain brown rice or Naan bread and enjoy.


Serving: 11 ounce | Calories: 562kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 211mg | Potassium: 1346mg | Fiber: 22g | Sugar: 7g

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate

Keyword Lentils
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Join the Conversation

  1. I just made this recipe and it was exactly what I was looking for. I stumbled on it by chance and decided to try it out. It’s full of flavor and extremely filling, I’ve been eating it at lunch for work and it keeps me full till the end of my shift. Definitely worth making!

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Thank you for the feedback. I’m glad you are enjoying the recipe, defiantly one of my go-to recipes for an easy quick lunch or dinner.

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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