Print Recipe

Coconut Curried Lentils

This deliciously creamy curried coconut lentils recipe makes a hearty, comforting vegetarian dinner with leftovers to last all week. It's a favorite.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 6
Author: Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD


  • 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.