Coconut Curried Lentils

I think lentils are the ultimate satisfying comfort food.

Adarsh, however, grew up on them and turns his nose up at them like a 3 year old refusing stinky, overcooked broccoli. Lentils and soup – two foods I love and this man hates. Deep sigh.

After years of trying, I think I’ve finally brought him over to my side of the lentil fence. I don’t know what it is about this recipe that he likes so much – maybe the fragrant coconut milk? Maybe the toasty little coconut ribbons I showered over his plate? Maybe the absence of heavy spices typical to Indian dahl curries?

I’m not going to overanalyze, I’m just excited that he enthusiastically gobbled up lentils three days in a row. They are going to be on a bi-weekly rotation now, I think…

I used split red lentils in this recipe, but you can use any lentil variety you like or have on hand. The lentils are cooked separately in boiling water before being simmered into the flavourful sauce, so you can easily adjust the cooking time.

In other news, I broke a rib. Bathing the baby. With bubbles and rubber duckies and extra-soft washcloths. BROKE a RIB.

I lost my balance and toppled ribs-first into the side of the bathtub. It really hurts, in case you were wondering what it feels like.

This is my second broken bone in 3 months (pinkie toe casualty in November). Once I regain full range of motion I’m going to bubble wrap myself.

My Indian Husband’s Favorite Recipes

Put some of Adarsh’s favs on your must-make list:

Coconut Curried Lentils

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 6


  • 2 cups dried red lentils or any lentil variety (OR 4 cups canned)
  • ¼ cup coconut or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • tbsp finely grated ginger packed
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds you may substitute whole cumin seeds, or same amount ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes canned or fresh
  • 1 400- mL can coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt or 1½ tsp table salt, or to taste
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro plus more for serving
  • 1 cup dried coconut ribbons optional


  • Rinse lentils and bring to a boil in a large pot of water; reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until fully tender – 30-45 minutes depending on type and how fresh they are.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil over medium heat in another large pot or dutch oven. Add onion and cook until soft and golden, about 15 minutes – don’t rush this step; reduce heat of onions are browning too quickly.
  • Stir in garlic and ginger, cook 1 minute. Add mustard seeds, turmeric and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes (be careful, mustard seeds may pop). Stir in tomatoes and coconut milk; reduce heat to low and simmer until lentils are finished cooking.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread coconut ribbons on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, approximately 6 minutes (but watch closely, they burn fast!).
  • Add fully cooked lentils to coconut sauce and give a good stir. Season with salt by pinches, then simmer on for 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Serve topped with toasted coconut and sprinkled with more cilantro.

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Last Updated on January 26, 2024 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

5 3 votes
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3 years ago

5 stars
This recipe was so yummy! My husband loved it and my Indian auntie was impressed with my cooking it. 😁 I’ll be making it over and over!!!! It was yummy with roti and raita too!!!

Last edited 3 years ago by Ann
Mo R
Mo R
3 years ago

5 stars
I’ve made this recipe many times. It’s delicious. Highly recommend!

Katy Hawkins
Katy Hawkins
3 years ago

5 stars
I have made these several times! They are so good and I always go back for seconds. I do increase the spices a little bit, but they never disappoint!

4 years ago

5 stars
Made this dish tonight and we all enjoyed it. Was a little more soupy than your photos but was delicious. Really liked the toasted coconut flakes.

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