Spicy Red Lentil Curry

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Pan of Spicy Red Lentil Curry and two serving bowls filled with rice, curry, and garnish of cilantro and red onion

Have you tried my Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl yet? If not, you absolutely should! It’s one of our most frequently made (and praised) recipes on the blog.

Because I love it so much, I wanted to make an Indian-inspired version. My first attempt was too vegetable heavy and a little dry. I’m all about sauciness and big flavor in dishes, so it was back to the drawing board.

The more I thought about what I actually wanted in an Indian-inspired “Buddha Bowl,” I realized I wanted a few key things: heat, intense flavor, sauciness, lentils, and brown rice.

Mission accomplished.

Sautéing ingredients for making our easy Red Lentil Curry recipe

This recipe is simple, requiring just 30 minutes, 1 saucepan (plus a pot for the brown rice), and 10 ingredients to make!

The base of the recipe is garlic, ginger, carrots sautéed in coconut oil, and red curry paste. Tomato paste and vegetable broth make a deeply flavorful sauce, while turmeric and coconut sugar add depth of flavor. An optional but recommended last step is a dash of light coconut milk to add creaminess and balance the heat.

Lentils not only add heartiness, but also nutrition. They are extremely high in folate, iron, and magnesium. One serving of this lentil curry boasts nearly 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein! Add in some brown rice and you have an incredibly substantial plant-based meal.

Pan of our simple to make gluten-free vegan Spicy Red Lentil Curry

If you try this recipe, let us know what you think! Tell us in the comments, rate it, and don’t forget to snap a picture and tag it #minimalistbaker on Instagram. We’d love to see your curry in action. Cheers, friends!

Bowl of our simple 30-minute Red Lentil Curry with ginger, garlic, and carrots

Spicy Red Lentil Curry

Insanely delicious, 30-minute red lentil curry! Saucy, hearty, and protein-rich. Perfect over brown rice for a simple, plant-based meal.
Author Minimalist Baker
Bowl of Red Lentil Curry and brown rice topped with red onion and cilantro
4.79 from 149 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3
Course Entrée
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Indian-Inspired, Thai-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 4 Days


  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (3 cloves yield ~1 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 3 Tbsp red curry paste (ensure vegan friendly)
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste (a 6-ounce can yields ~1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (DIY or store-bought)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup dry red lentils (thoroughly rinsed in cold water + drained)
  • 1-2 Tbsp coconut sugar (or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric (plus more to taste)
  • 1/3 cup light coconut milk (optional)

FOR SERVING optional

  • Cooked brown rice (I love this method)
  • Pita or naan (omit if gluten free // check for vegan friendliness)
  • Pickled red onion*
  • Fresh chopped cilantro


  • Thoroughly rinse lentils in a fine mesh strainer and set aside. If serving with brown rice, cook at this time using this method from Saveur.
  • Heat a large rimmed skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add coconut oil, garlic, ginger, and carrots. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add curry paste and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add tomato paste, vegetable broth, water and stir to combine. Then add lentils, coconut sugar, turmeric, and stir.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat slightly to low (or medium-low), and gently simmer for 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Stir frequently to incorporate flavors, and add more vegetable broth as needed if the mixture becomes too thick.
  • An optional (but recommended) step: stir in coconut milk for additional creaminess, and to balance the heat of the curry paste.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more turmeric for depth of flavor, coconut sugar for sweetness/flavor balance, or a pinch of salt for saltiness.
  • To serve, divide brown rice (optional) and lentils between 2-3 (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size) serving bowls and garnish with cilantro, pickled onions, and pita or naan for dipping (optional).
  • Store leftovers separately in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop, adding water as needed for moisture, or in the microwave.


*To make quick pickled red onions, add 3/4 cup (180 ml) warm water, 1/2 cup (120 ml) red wine or apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp (25 g) organic cane sugar, and 1/2 tsp sea salt to a mason jar and seal tightly. Shake to combine/dissolve sugar. Then add 1 small red onion (110 g), thinly sliced, and shake. Set in refrigerator to “pickle” for at least 15 minutes, preferably 30 minutes. Will keep for 1 week.
*This recipe is inspired by both Thai and Indian flavors. You can learn more about the origins of red curry paste and turmeric by following the links.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with light coconut milk and  lesser amount of coconut sugar and without additional toppings or rice.

Nutrition (1 of 3 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 402 Carbohydrates: 48 g Protein: 17.5 g Fat: 16.4 g Saturated Fat: 10.9 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 1340 mg Fiber: 15.9 g Sugar: 13.2 g

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My Rating:

  1. Brooke says

    I have been making this recipe for years and I love it–it’s in our regular rotation. Last night, however, I made some changes that elevated it from “yummy” to “Wow. Delicious!”

    I used World Foods Thai Red Curry Paste instead of Thai Kitchen. Next time I will likely add a pinch of cayenne pepper as World Foods is not as spicy as Thai Kitchen.
    I used oat milk instead of coconut milk to reduce saturated fat.
    I served it with brown basmati rice instead of white.

  2. Rachel Watterson says

    Outstanding! Another banger. I used the minimum suggested amount of maple syrup and left out the coconut milk. The yield was much higher than expected, I had doubled the recipe for some leftovers but I probably got about 9-10 servings of what I consider a very healthy portion – so I’m glad to read from others that it freezes well. I can’t wait to have it for lunch again tomorrow to taste how the flavors develop overnight.

  3. Paula says

    Really liked this but the full can of tomato paste was overpowering. I added more lentils and a full can of coconut milk and it turned out great in the end. So maybe just my personal preference but a great recipe with some minor tweaks :)

  4. Lea says

    I have made this many times with little alteration to the recipe and it’s always so good..both for myself and partner and for my friends and family!

  5. Tina says

    My advice to everyone is try this!
    This is an awesome recepie. I love it and keep doing it over and over again.

  6. Lauren says

    Great week night dish with ingredients I had on hand with a few substitutions! I used green curry instead of red and a little less tomato paste than the recipe called for (I had a 4oz tube in the pantry). Based on other reviews, I added red chili flakes because we prefer it spicy, and I used forbidden rice. I could have cooked the lentils a bit longer, so this will be even more delicious for lunch tomorrow. Thanks for another great recipe!

  7. Stacy says

    This is really delicious and easy – thank you! I subbed maple since I have no coconut sugar, upped the turmeric by maybe a quarter teaspoon based on the “depth of flavor” recommendation, and added the optional coconut milk at the end. Really delicious and not spicy at all. I might add more of the curry paste or some red pepper flakes to add a little more heat next time, but really the recipe needs no improvement. Absolutely delicious.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Stacy! Thank you for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications! xo

  8. Jennifer says

    I made this last night for dinner. It was really easy and so flavorful! I used Thai Kitchen brand Red Curry paste and it was perfect. I am kind of wimpy with spices and it wasn’t too spicy for me.
    I wanted more veggies so I added roasted cauliflower and a couple handfuls of spinach and served it over brown Jasmine rice. Sooooo good. I will definitely make it again. Thank you!!

  9. Alex says

    This recipe gets bonus points because I didn’t have to chop an onion! I followed the directions as suggested and added lime juice at the end. I enjoyed the level of spice while my boyfriend found it to be too spicy. I served it with brown basmati rice, pickled onions and homemade naan bread. Great base for a curry that I’ll definitely be revisiting in the future.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Whoop! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Alex! We do love heat. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  10. melissa atcheson says

    so happy I found your site – my teen is newly vegetarian and I’ve been trying your recipes – this one was thumbs up all around (mom, dad and daughter)… definitely making it again and shared it at work. The only thing I wondered is if I should have cooked the lentils longer as they were still a bit toothy.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, we’re so glad it was a hit with the whole family! We like the lentils to have a little texture so they don’t get mushy, but you can cook longer if preferred! Thank you for sharing! xoxo

  11. Lynsey says

    Just realised that I use your recipes regularly but have never given a rating.

    This one is a firm favourite. It’s super easy to make, freezes well, and is delicious. We had it over roasted broccoli today – yum!

  12. Sue J. says

    I have to say that, had I not made other recipes from this site, with excellent results, I would probably never have tried this one. We are in the process of changing our WOE to include more plant-based meals, so expanding our horizons. My first concern was 6 oz. of tomato paste? Seemed a lot, but I had reason to trust. Also used the included link for how to cook brown rice, and that delivered as promised. The pickled onions are compulsory! Also the coconut milk. Used 1 tbsp of brown sugar in lieu of the coconut sugar, and grapeseed oil, because I didn’t have coconut oil. Subbed panang curry paste, because that’s what I had. Despite these variations, it was delish!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! Thanks for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications, Sue! So glad you enjoyed the curry. xo

  13. Tessa says

    This is a go to recipe for sure! I often make it with the naan recipe from this site, as well. I’ve made this with different brands of red curry paste and just a heads up – some are way spicier than others! 3TBS was perfect using one brand and FAR too spicy (for me) with a different brand. So there may be some experimentation involved. Also, if you find that your lentils are taking way too long to cook, check and make sure they aren’t too old. Holding the salt until the end helps, too!

  14. Debbie says

    This recipe is straight up delicious! I have never posted a comment ever when following a recipe but this recipe is the bomb. I’ve never even had a red lentil before so delicious. I used the whole little curry jar bc I figured the rest would just go bad since I really never use it but now I might have to make this everyday!! I also added a little coconut milk to it. I did cook the rice but I haven’t stopped eating it out of the pan yet. Stop reading go make this!! PS I tend to use a lot of your recipes they’re all quite good but this one…WOWZA! 🤤

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, yay! We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Debbie. Thanks for the lovely review! xo

  15. Kristen says

    Another winner from Minimalist Baker! I made this exactly as is with the pickled onions and the recommended curry paste. It came together very easily and was delicious. Also reheated well. Would highly recommend!

  16. Amy says

    Made this last night and will definitely be making again! It was super easy, not too much chopping and measuring which I appreciate. I made a double batch and a few modifications: sautéed a couple of Thai chilis in with the garlic and ginger (we like things hot); used half the amount of tomato paste; and substituted brown sugar for coconut sugar, and only used half the recommended amount. This was DELICIOUS!

  17. lisa says

    WOW! i’m a huge fan of your website and visit/cook often the recipes you create. i made this for four people. i used 1 and 1/3 cups red split lentils, 4 cloves of garlic, a 2 inch knob of ginger, 1 entire lime, 1 tsp tumeric, 2 tbsp of thai kitchen red curry paste, 2 cups of water, 3 cups of low sodium chicken broth, 5 kafir lime leaves *whole*, a pinch of salt, one table spoon of maple syrup. the rest of the ingredients stayed the same. i cooked for about 40 minutes – personally i like it that texture – i found the carrots were still a little to the tooth, but that was fine. what elevated this was extra lime, a little hot sauce, and cilantro and lemon pepper. if i would have had a red onion, i’d have made that pickled red onion but i didn’t. i think that would have TOTALLY knocked it out of the ball park! thanks for such a fantastic recipe, the whole family gobbled it up and now there’s no left overs ;)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad everyone enjoyed it, Lisa! Thanks so much for your kind words and lovely review! xo

  18. Will says

    I only have green Thai kitchen curry. Will this negatively affect this dish? I’ve made it plenty of times before but just don’t have the red curry this time. Thanks!

  19. Caitlyn says

    I made this tonight and it is great! I added a drained and rinsed can of chickpeas to bulk out the servings to four to take for work lunches this weekend. I didn’t have any coconut milk but it was still great