Satisfy your cravings with our Creamy Red Lentil Curry recipe. Made with aromatic spices, velvety coconut milk, and topped with a zesty coconut and sesame sambol, this vegan recipe is a true delight for your taste buds!
Welcome back to A Vegan Visit, where we explore the world of vegan cuisine, one delicious dish at a time. Today, we are delving into the world of nutritious vegan comfort food. Our delicious Vegan Red Lentil Curry recipe has a beautifully creamy texture, uses fragrant spices, and is filled with nourishing ingredients. This vegan dahl is a delightful combination of simplicity and exquisite flavours.
Just imagine scooping up creamy, richly spiced dahl with a piece of soft and squishy warm vegan naan bread. Mmmm!
- The written recipe
- Why you’ll love this recipe
- Step by step instructions
- Recipe tips and FAQs
- Other incredible recipes like this one
What is Red Lentil Curry (or Dahl) and where did it originate?
Red Lentil Curry, also known as Dahl, is a beloved dish with a rich history deeply rooted in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. This humble dish was born in the Indian subcontinent, where lentils have been a dietary staple for generations. Dahl, the generic term for lentil-based dishes, has regional variations throughout India, with recipes passed down through families and communities. The beauty of Dahl lies in its adaptability; it can be tailored to local tastes, using a wide range of ingredients and spices.
Red Lentil Dal is not only known for its wonderful taste but also for its nutritional value. Red lentils, the star of the show, are a fantastic source of plant-based protein and dietary fibre, making it a nourishing choice for vegans and vegetarians. This creamy curry is an easy and flavoursome lentil recipe you’ll come back to again and again.
Why you’ll love this Creamy Vegan Red Lentil Curry Recipe
If this is your first time trying our Dahl, you’re in for a treat! Here are some reasons why you’ll love this recipe:
- Nutritious and Filling. Red lentils provide an excellent source of plant-based protein and fibre, making this dish both hearty and wholesome.
- Easy and quick to make. This recipe for red lentil dahl requires minimal effort and simple ingredients that are pantry staples. Perfect for busy weeknights when you crave a wholesome meal but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen.
- A Burst of Flavour with Sambol. Coconut sambol is a traditional Sri Lankan condiment made with grated coconut, spices and lime juice. It adds a burst of flavour and texture to dishes and is the perfect addition to this vegan curry.
- Versatility and Customisation. Easily adjust the spice level and experiment with various toppings, side dishes and modifications to suit your preferences.
- Creamy and Flavoursome. The combination of red lentils and coconut milk crafts a velvety texture and a rich, satisfying taste that will keep you coming back for more.
How to make this Creamy Vegan Red Lentil Curry
Make sure to head to the recipe card below for the full recipe and instructions!
1. Grab your ingredients from the grocery store and measure them out. Prep your ingredients by dicing the onion and mincing or finely grating the fresh ginger and garlic.
2. First up – make the sambol. Whilst the sambol is an optional topping, it does add flavour, spice and texture. Stir together the sambol ingredients and dry fry the mixture for around 5 minutes, until aromatic. You can use either lime or lemon juice for the sambol.
3. Next up – let’s make dahl! Add the coconut oil and diced onion to a large pot (like this one) and fry over medium heat until the onion is soft. You can use olive oil or avocado oil instead of coconut oil, however, coconut oil is our recommendation.
4. Add the fresh garlic and ginger and fry for 2 more minutes.
5. Add the ground spices (curry powder, turmeric, ground cumin, garam masala, ground coriander and dried chilli or red pepper flakes) and fry for a couple of minutes. Feel free to add a tsp more oil or a splash of water here to stop the mixture from sticking.
6. Add the stock (or vegetable broth) and red lentils and bring to a gentle simmer for around 10 minutes until the lentils have absorbed all of the stock.
7. Once all of the stock has been absorbed (not before), add the tinned coconut milk. Simmer for around 10 minutes until the dahl is thick and creamy.
8. Test for seasoning before serving. Add salt, black pepper or additional chilli flakes as per your preference.
9. Serve the Creamy Red Lentil Curry topped with sambol, diced avocado, a drizzle of sriracha and fresh coriander leaves, along with sides of vegan naan bread and coconut or basmati rice.
Top tips for making this Creamy Vegan Red Lentil Curry recipe
- Use Quality Ingredients. Opt for fresh herbs, high-quality spices, and full-fat canned coconut milk for best results.
- Cooking Techniques. Sauté the onions, garlic, and Indian spices to release their essence before adding the lentils, stock and coconut milk for an aromatic Dahl.
- Simmering and Thickening. Make sure the lentils absorb all the liquid from the vegetable stock before adding the coconut milk. This will result in a creamy and thick curry consistency. If you add the coconut milk too early, you may find the mixture difficult to thicken.
- Seasoning and Customisation. Taste-test the curry before adding salt, because curry powder sometimes already contains salt. You can experiment with additional vegetables to enrich the dish with colour and flavour, such as baby spinach or diced bell pepper. Or perhaps you might like to try adding cubed sweet potatoes next time!
- Serving Suggestions. Serve this dahl with a side of warm naan bread and coconut rice for a complete meal. Top it off with sambol, diced avocado, a drizzle of sriracha sauce and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves for added freshness and spice.
- Storing and Freezing. This Red Lentil Curry recipe is fantastic for meal prep because it stores well and the best part is it often tastes even better the next day! Store leftover curry (not rice) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Can I use green lentils or brown lentils instead of red lentils? While red lentils are traditional and provide the optimal texture, experimenting with other types of dried lentils is possible. Please be aware though that the cooking time and texture of the finished dish will differ.
- Is this recipe gluten-free? Yes, as long as you use gluten-free spices and vegetable stock. Serve with gluten-free naan bread, sides and toppings.
- Can I make this without coconut milk? Using full-fat coconut milk gives the best result for this creamy curry. You could try substituting for a plant-based cream like soya cream, or vegan milk such as coconut milk from a carton, however, this will affect the flavour and creaminess. If you don’t have full-fat coconut milk to hand, you can use light coconut milk, however, the curry will not be as creamy.
- How can I make this spicier? If you’d like a bit of extra spice, increase the amount of chilli flakes or add a finely diced fresh chilli while sautéing the dried spices.
- What can I serve with this dish? This curry goes well with a side of naan bread and coconut rice (try our recipe here). Alternatively, you could try pairing it with cauliflower rice, white rice, quinoa, brown rice, or as a topping for baked potatoes.
- How long can I store leftovers? Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, and frozen for up to 3 months. Store in an airtight container, like these ones.
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Did you love this Indian Red Lentil Dahl? Here are some more deliciously simple recipes to try
I hope you LOVE this Red Lentil Curry recipe! Please share this recipe with someone you think will love it because it’s our goal to encourage as many people as possible to try plant-based eating.
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The Written Recipe:
Creamy Vegan Red Lentil Curry (Easy Dahl Recipe!)
For the Red Lentil Dahl:
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 medium onion (finely diced (150g))
- 4 tsp of garlic (minced (approx 4 cloves))
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger (minced)
- 1 tbsp medium curry powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes (up to 1 tsp, depending on how hot you like it)
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- 750 ml vegetable stock
- 300 g dry red lentils
- 200 g coconut milk (full fat canned variety)
- ½ tsp black pepper (ground)
- ½ tsp salt
For the Toasted Coconut and Sesame Sambol:
- 30 g desiccated coconut
- 1.5 tbsp sesame seeds ((12g))
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 2 tsp lime juice
- ⅛ tsp salt (optional)
- naan bread
- coconut rice
- fresh coriander
- diced avocado
- a zig zag of sriracha chilli sauce (if you like it spicy)
To make the sambol:
- Add the desiccated coconut, sesame seeds and chilli powder to a bowl and stir together.30 g desiccated coconut, 1.5 tbsp sesame seeds, 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- Stir through the lime juice.2 tsp lime juice
- Taste and add 1/8 tsp salt if necessary (some chilli powders contain salt so you may not need this).1/8 tsp salt
- Add the mixture to a frying pan and dry fry (without oil) over a medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes until the mixture is starting to colour and is aromatic.
- Set aside.
To make the red lentil dahl:
- Gently fry the onion in the coconut oil over a medium heat for 7 minutes until soft.1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 medium onion
- Add the minced garlic and ginger and fry for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently.4 tsp of garlic, 1 tbsp fresh ginger
- Add the curry powder and dried spices (turmeric, ground cumin, garam masala, ground coriander, 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes) and fry for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently until the spices are aromatic.1 tbsp medium curry powder, 1 tsp ground turmeric, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
- Note: Add a tsp or so more oil if needed at this point.
- Add the vegetable stock and red lentils and bring the pan to a gentle simmer over a low-medium heat. Simmer for 10 minutes until the lentils have absorbed all of the stock.750 ml vegetable stock, 300 g dry red lentils
- Once the lentils have absorbed all of the stock add the coconut milk. Don't be tempted to add the coconut milk before the lentils have absorbed the stock otherwise the curry may not thicken.200 g coconut milk
- Simmer on a low heat for a further 10-15 minutes until the dahl is thick and creamy.
- Before serving, test the dahl for seasoning and add 1/2 tsp each of salt and ground black pepper if necessary. At this stage you can also add another 1/2 tsp of dried chilli flakes if you prefer your curry to be spicier.1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt
- Note: Some curry powders already include salt so make sure to taste test the dahl before adding this additional salt and pepper.
- Serve the dahl sprinkled generously with the toasted coconut and sesame sambol and top with diced ripe avocado, a zig zag of sriracha and a sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves.fresh coriander, diced avocado, a zig zag of sriracha chilli sauce
- Add a side of coconut rice and warm naan bread.naan bread, coconut rice