When you hear lentils, you probably don't think of decadence. You probably think of healthy, nourishing, maybe even boring. But, I'm here to change your perception of lentils with this ultra creamy, ultra indulgent lentil curry.
[Note: if you're looking for some more basic lentil recipes and tips on how to cook them in the Instant Pot, here's a helpful video on that topic]
Back to this curry though because it's definitely worth talking about.
Here's what I love about this red lentil curry recipe.
It's ready in 35-40 minutes so you can make it for a weeknight dinner.
It is ULTRA creamy and indulgent. You can thank the full-fat coconut milk and the creamy almond butter for that.
It's packed with flavor thanks to the fresh garlic and ginger, along with the Indian spices.
Not only is it delicious, it's also quite nourishing. The garlic, ginger, and turmeric boast tons of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, while the lentils make this a hearty, protein-packed meal. Plus, you'll stay full for hours due to the high content of healthy fat from coconut milk and almond butter.
And now here are some tips on making this red lentil curry.
Don't skimp on the garlic and ginger and spices. This is what infuses the dish with tons of flavor.
If you can't tolerate spicy food whatsoever, you can omit the chili peppers and the cayenne pepper. If you can handle a little heat, use one chili pepper (remove the seeds) and the cayenne pepper, and if you like things on the spicy side, use one or two chili peppers (with seeds intact) along with the cayenne pepper.
If you can't find fresh turmeric, just substitute 1 teaspoon ground turmeric and add it with the other ground spices. The easiest way to mince fresh turmeric (and ginger) is by using a microplane or a small cheese grater.
If you are watching your calorie intake, you can use lite coconut milk instead of the full-fat variety. It won't be as creamy, but it will still be delicious and decently creamy. Alternatively, you can use half the amount of full-fat coconut milk.
If your can of coconut milk is not mixed well (i.e., the solid cream part is very distinct from the liquid part), you might want to first pour the milk into a large bowl and whisk to break up the clumps. That'll make it easier to whisk the milk into the curry.
Make sure you use smooth almond butter, as it'll be harder to incorporate crunchy almond butter into the curry and you might end up with chunks of almond butter.
The cook time will vary slightly depending on the type of pan you use. When I make this in a wide, shallow pan like this, the lentils get softened and cooked through more quickly (about 20-22 minutes) than when I use a soup pot or Dutch oven (closer to 30 minutes).
I hope you give this vegan red lentil curry a try! It's delicious AF so I guarantee you won't regret it :)
Bon Appétit, friends!
Vegan Red Lentil Curry
What you need for this recipe
Creamy and poppin' with flavors and spices, you'll want to eat this nourishing yet indulgent curry any time of year and any time of day.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated
1 tablespoon minced fresh turmeric (see notes above for substitutes)
1-2 serrano peppers, diced (see notes above for spiciness level)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1 cup red lentils
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk (see notes above for substitutes)
3 tablespoons unsweetened creamy almond butter
1/2 a small lemon, juiced
For serving: fresh cilantro, Basmati or Jasmine rice and naan bread
Heat a large, deep skillet or large saucepan over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, and Serrano pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent garlic from burning. Then add the spices (cumin through cayenne pepper) and salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Stir in the lentils, vegetable broth, and the crushed tomatoes and mix well. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the lentils are cooked through and have softened. If you find that the lentils are soft after 25 minutes, add a few spoons more of broth or water and cook for another 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and stir in the coconut milk, almond butter, and salt & pepper to taste Continue cooking on low heat, uncovered for 5-7 minutes. Finally, stir in the lemon juice and turn off the heat.
If you want your lentils to be creamier and more on the puréed side, use an immersion blender to lightly purée the curry.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice and/or naan bread.