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Curried lentils is a flavorful, nutritious, satisfying low-budget, one-pot, meatless meal you can make using a stove, crockpot, or Instant Pot with 8 simple pantry ingredients!

completed Quick Curried Lentils [Stove, Crockpot, IP] plated
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Easy Hearty Curried Brown Lentils

Winter is practically here, bringing with it cravings for cozy, comforting meals like soups, stews, and curries. And, in our case, especially super low-effort options like tandoori chickpeas and this one-pot recipe for curried lentils with carrots.

This easy brown lentil curry recipe is made entirely of inexpensive pantry ingredients (that we always have on hand) and so much less complicated to make than traditional dal, but with plenty of flavor. Better yet, by using lentils, this meal is loaded with protein, slow-digesting fiber, and several nutrients to keep you full for hours.

Plus, there are several ways to adapt it with extra veggies and seasonings. It’s also meal-prep and freezer-friendly. Best of all, you can prepare it on the stovetop or in a slow cooker or Instant Pot (refer to FAQs) – whichever suits your needs – either way, the process is almost entirely hands-off!

Looking for even more simple, satisfying lentil dishes? Check out our vegan lentil Bolognese, red lentil stew, or even lentil sloppy joes.

The Ingredients and Substitutes

ingredients for Quick Curried Lentils [Stove, Crockpot, IP] measured out on a white surface
  • Lentils: This easy curried lentils recipe uses uncooked brown lentils (or green lentils). Red lentils will technically work but become mushy when cooked.
  • Carrots: A great way to add extra flavor depth, texture, color, and extra body.
  • Aromatics: Garlic and yellow onion (white or red onion would also work) make an aromatic, flavorful base for the curried lentils.
  • Oil: We use olive oil, though coconut oil, avocado oil, etc., will work.
  • Curry powder: Use mild, medium, or hot curry powder and adjust the amount used to taste to suit your flavor palate. Make sure it’s fresh.
  • Vegetable broth: Use good quality, rich vegetable stock or vegetable bouillon/stock cubes + water. Use reduced-sodium broth if preferred.
  • Tomato: Create depth with canned diced/crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.
  • Cinnamon: (optional) To add subtle warm depth to the flavor.
  • Sea salt & black pepper: To season the curry to taste.
  • To garnish: Optionally add chopped cilantro (or parsley) and lemon wedges.

Recipe Variations + Add-ins

  • Chili: Finely sliced or diced for extra heat. OR chili powder/cayenne pepper.
  • Bay leaves: Add 1-2 bay leaves for savory depth. Remove before serving.
  • Creaminess: Stir in a small amount of the thick cream from full-fat canned coconut milk or your favorite vegan cream right at the end.
  • Curried lentils and sweet potatoes: 1-2 medium potatoes, diced into ½-inch chunks. Curried lentils with butternut squash will work similarly, providing a delicious, sweet and savory contrast. Regular potatoes also work.
  • Other vegetables: To make curried lentils and vegetables, try vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, bell pepper, peas, etc.
  • Leafy greens: Like spinach or kale, stirred in at the end to wilt.
  • Other seasonings: To add even more depth, why not try….
    • Cumin seeds (½-1 tsp)Mustard seeds (½-1 tsp)Garam masala (add a pinch, then more to taste)Turmeric
    • Ground ginger

How to Make Curried Lentils

Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions.

  • First, rinse, peel, and chop the carrots, dice the onion, and mince the garlic.
  • Then, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook until fragrant and translucent. Then add the garlic and sauté for a further minute.
  • Add the lentils and curry powder, mix well, and stir constantly for 20-30 seconds or until fragrant. Then add the vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, carrots, and all the seasonings, and stir well.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Gently simmer the brown lentil curry for about 30 minutes, leaving it undisturbed.
  • Remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender and most of the liquid evaporates – so it’s a thick, creamy consistency.
  • Finally, when ready, taste and adjust the seasonings, stir in the cilantro (if using), and serve with lemon or lime wedges. Enjoy!

Optionally also top the curried brown lentils with a swirl of vegan yogurt and/or some toasted nuts like cashews or almonds, for crunch.

FAQs

Can I make slow-cooker curried lentils?

Crockpot curried lentils are a super simple hands-off meal. Simply add all the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours or until the carrots and lentils are tender.

For enhanced flavor, sauté the aromatics and seasonings first. Check occasionally to add more liquid if needed.

Can I make curried lentils in an Instant Pot?

Carry out the sauté steps as written in the recipe using the sauté function in your Instant Pot.

Then add the remaining ingredients (except the garnishes) and cook on MANUAL high pressure for 15 minutes.

Leave it to natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then open, stir, taste, and adjust the seasonings, then serve with the cilantro and lemon wedges.

Pro Recipe Tips

  • To adjust the consistency: Optionally mash or blend a portion of the lentils and/or increase the amount of liquid used to adjust it.
  • Temper the spices: Cooking off the curry powder and any additional spices before adding liquid to the pan helps bloom them and improves the dish’s overall flavor.
  • Season to taste: You can add as much or as little of each as you’d like.
  • For even better flavor: Leaving the curry to rest for a short while (or making it a day ahead) will provide time for the flavors to meld.
completed Quick Curried Lentils [Stove, Crockpot, IP] plated

Serving Suggestions

Serve this curried lentil recipe with flatbread like naan or chapati, rice or quinoa, cauliflower rice, or a simple side salad – like a kale salad.

You could also add extra roasted vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans), sauteed spinach, and/or chutney.

Storage Instructions

Allow any leftovers to cool and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Brown lentil curry also freezes well for up to 4 months in an airtight container or Ziplock/Stasher bag/s (spread flat and excess air squeezed out). Leave it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

To reheat the curried brown lentils, use a microwave or stovetop, adding an extra splash of water, plant-based milk, or broth, if needed, to bring it back to the creamy consistency.

completed Quick Curried Lentils [Stove, Crockpot, IP] in a storage container

More Vegan Curry Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed Quick Curried Lentils [Stove, Crockpot, IP] plated

Quick Curried Lentils [Stove, Crockpot, IP]

5 from 25 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Curried lentils is a flavorful, nutritious, satisfying low-budget, one-pot, meatless meal you can make using a stove, crockpot, or Instant Pot with 8 simple pantry ingredients!

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup uncooked brown lentils
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can of diced tomato, in their juices
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup of cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • Lemon wedges, garnish (optional)

Instructions 

  • In a large pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent and fragrant. Then add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  • Add the uncooked lentils to the pot and the curry powder. Mix well and cook for 20 seconds constantly mixing. Add the water, cinnamon (if using), diced tomatoes, carrots, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Mix well, cover with a lid and bring it to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook undisturbed for 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue to cook until most of the liquid evaporates and the lentils get creamy.
  • When ready, taste and adjust salt, pepper, and curry levels if needed. Then add the cilantro and mix well. Serve hot.

Notes

  • To adjust the consistency: Optionally mash or blend a portion of the lentils and/or increase the amount of liquid used to adjust it.
  • Temper the spices: Cooking off the curry powder and any additional spices before adding liquid to the pan helps bloom them and improves the dish’s overall flavor.
  • Season to taste: You can add as much or as little of each as you’d like.
  • For even better flavor: Leaving the curry to rest for a short while (or making it a day ahead) will provide time for the flavors to meld.

Nutrition

Calories: 271kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 15gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 819mgPotassium: 941mgFiber: 18gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 6800IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 98mgIron: 6mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Indian
Method: Stovetop
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These Quick Curried Lentils are so perfect for a weeknight dinner. Love the simplicity in ingredients while still bringing on bold flavor!