Easy Indian Lentil Curry Recipe

Looking for a tasty, frugal meal that's a snap to make? One taste of these Easy Indian Lentils and you'll be surprised at how satisfying and delicious lentils can be.

Indian lentil and cauliflower rice on a black plate with black fork

This savory lentil dahl recipe is a vegan stew that is rich, hearty, and delicious, but also super simple and inexpensive to make.

Our family loves curry.

Anything curry.

In fact, though we like experimenting with cuisine from all cultures, I would say that Indian is one of our favorites.

Now, before I go on, let me say that this lentil recipe isn't an intense, hot and spicy curry - so don't run away if you think that you are not a curry fan.

Really--you don't know what you are missing.

Most people who don't like curry don't like it due to its being spicy. This dish is not that, and in fact, it feels like a real comfort food to me. In fact, there is another recipe on my site that actually does feature curry and that is in fact my most requested recipe--Pakistani Kima.

Think you don't like curry? You really should try BOTH of these recipes (these Indian Lentils and the Pakistani Kima).

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Lentils in colander for Indian Lentils

Easy Indian Food

So you love Indian food like I do, right? However, we all know that making Indian cuisine can be quite time consuming. So when I can get the taste of Indian spices in a fast, one pot meal, then I get the best of both worlds.

I can have my cake curry and eat it too.

'Cause these days, who has a lot of time to spend in the kitchen working on seemingly endless elaborate steps? I have many other things that need to be done.

Like photo albums. Those need to be done. Please don't ask how many years behind I am. I need to start a support group for moms with empty photo albums :-). Care to join me?

Anyhow, back to the recipe.

Adding broth to pan of onion and garlic for Indian Lentil Recipe

This recipe is adapted from a dish simply called "Red Lentils" by Southern Living.

It's a pretty "Blah" name for a truly amazing dish.

It's quick on its own, but really lickety-split in my pressure cooker. If you don't have one of these yet, put it on your Christmas list now.

I know, I should get better at planning meals, but it sure is nice to not have any idea what you are going to have for dinner at 5:30 and have dinner on the table at 6:15.

Well, with this recipe, you can get it done. You can literally have an amazingly delicious meal on the table--without resorting to packages filled with preservatives and who knows what else.

Cooking onion and garlic in a pan for Indian Lentils

Done. In a fast 30 minutes on the stove top, or 9 minutes in the pressure cooker.

Mom is happy that she didn't resort to serving boxed cereal (that might have paint thinner in it??) and toast, and the family is happy because they aren't having popcorn, carrot sticks, and hard-boiled eggs (or sardines for my egg-allergic son) again because mom forgot to plan :-).

Yes, I know, you all are wondering why we don't just order a pizza, right? We're all gluten-free and oldest is also deathly allergic to dairy, so that's why....

What is Indian Dahl

Daal (which can also be spelled Dal/Dahl/Dhal) is a stew of lentils, cooked with delectable spices. Many dahls are made with red lentils, that interestingly turn yellow when cooked, and they are served with Naan. Naan is a popular soft Indian flatbread that you will have had if you’ve ever been to an Indian restaurant.

They taste amazing together.

Our family is gluten-free, so traditional Naan isn't ever on our table, but I plan on developing a gluten-free or grain-free Naan, and in the meantime, as mentioned below, the flax bread on my blog tastes great with this. You could even wrap these Indian Lentils in these Buckwheat Pancakes as well.

Indian Lentils in pan with wooden serving spoon

Here are some other of my super fast recipes that are "go to's" when I'm short on time.

- Easy Baked Chicken Nuggets
- Super Savory Hummus
- Fast & Yummy Bean Dip
- GF Chili Mac (and other super fast meals)

Indian Lentils in pan with wooden serving spoon

Ways to Serve Curry Lentils

  1. Rice

    This dish tastes great served over rice (which, by the way, I can cook in 20 minutes flat in my pressure cooker. Woo-hoo!) I always use brown rice due to its higher nutritive qualities. There is some concern about arsenic in brown rice so source carefully or eat white rice if you prefer.

2. Pasta

It would be fabulous over gluten-free pasta or spiralized veggie noodles too.

3. Naan

Naan is the perfect accompaniment for this Indian Lentil recipe. If you're avoiding gluten, you can make or purchase a gluten-free naan or make this Focaccia Flax Bread for a gluten-free flatbread option.

4. Cauliflower Rice

Cauli rice is the perfect low carb / grain-free option and is what is pictured in the images on this post.

5. Add Ins

Next time I plan to add seasoned chicken pieces to this dish. Specifically, I think that sauteing small chunks of chicken in coconut oil and my Homemade All-Purpose Seasoning would be a wonderful addition.

My Chat Masala spice mix tastes great on this. We have this on our table at all times and put it on everything. Except - ahem - desserts :-).

If you are like us and you just LOVE curry dishes, see my recipe for Sweet Curry Powder - DIY - it is a real winner and a great money saver too. You can add it to so many dishes, including this one. Just trade the turmeric and cumin for the curry.

Enjoy!

Indian Lentils in wooden serving spoon above plate of Cauliflower Rice

Benefits of Lentils

Lentils are not only an inexpensive meal, they are full of nutrition as well.

Lentils are low in calories, rich in fiber and protein, as well as in iron and folate. Of courses, their iron source is non heme, which isn't as well absorbed as the heme counterpart, but you can add vitamin C (like the tomatoes in this dish) to help with iron absorption.

Additionally, lentils are also full of polyphenols which are overall viewed to be very beneficial for health. (source)

Recipe Notes for Indian Lentils

  • Onion options
    Instead of fresh onion, you can use 2 tablespoons minced onion plus a bit of water to reconstitute.
  • Broth options
    Here is a great place to buy bone broth. You can also find the same brand on Amazon.
  • Lentil Options
    Although this recipe was originally meant as a red lentil dish, you can use any kind of lentils and the main photos were taken of the dish made with traditional lentils. The glycemic index of red lentils is a higher so brown is a better choice if you're watching carb intake. The lentils in the following photo are red lentils. Note that red lentils turn yellow when cooked.
  • Basil options
    You can use fresh or dried basil, but fresh will yield a more dramatic flavor and presentation. If you choose to grow your own herbs, this post on the how to preserve herbs shows what to do with your bumper crop.
  • THM option
    Those on the Trim Healthy Mama plan should reduce the coconut oil to 2 tablespoons to make this qualify as an "E."
Indian Lentils on plate with Cauliflower Rice - next to serving bowl and 2 forks

The cook time in the recipe card is how long it will take if you do not own a pressure cooker. If you do own one, the cook time will be around 15 minutes less, but you will have a wait time of about 10 minutes since the pressure needs to go down.

indian lentils over cauliflower rice on black plate next to serving pan and black forks
Cauliflower rice topped with Indian lentil on a black plate with a black spoon

Easy Indian Lentils

This Indian Lentil Recipe is ready in a flash and is a rich, hearty, and delicious frugal meal that everyone will love.


5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Vegan
Keyword: indian lentils
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 49 minutes
Wait Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 52 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 226kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Melt oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.
  • Add onion and garlic. Saute 5 minutes or until the onion is soft.
  • Add broth and next 5 ingredients.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.

If Using Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot

  • Add lentils and bring to a boil.
  • Place the lid on the cooker and bring up to high pressure. Cook for 9 minutes on high (you may need a few more minutes since the tomatoes counteract the cooking of the lentils slightly. Conversely, you could add the tomatoes after cooking the beans and then let the resulting dish cook for a bit).
  • Let pressure come down naturally. Remove lid carefully.
  • Stir in basil and salt to taste.

If Using Regular Pot

  • Add lentils, and then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, approximately 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. (Red lentils will cook quicker than brown or green.)
  • Stir in basil and salt to taste.

Notes

You might be wondering, "Hey where is the curry powder?!" in these Indian Curry Lentils. Good question!
Curry isn't one spice. It's a blend of spices. So-instead of the turmeric, cumin, and pepper, you could substitute 2 1/2 teaspoons of curry powder. This homemade curry powder is a great mild version that we love on just about anything.

Nutrition

Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 306mg | Potassium: 641mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 180IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 5mg | Net Carbs: 17g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.

The above nutrition facts are estimates only. Please read my Nutrition Disclaimer here.

Voila!

Wonderful, fast, savory Indian cuisine in no time!

I'd love to hear what you think about these lentils!

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115 Comments

    1. Hi there. We finally got the nutrition information loaded in the post. Sorry it took so long. Hope that helps!

  1. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! It was easy to make and very nutritious. I am trying to reduce my meat consumption, so this was a perfect dish. I was shocked to see how much garlic went in, but it was not garlicy at all! I did add more pepper because I wanted it to be a little bit more spicy.

  2. 5 stars
    Thank you for an other good recipe! I did it tonight for my Indian food lover husband and we both loved it. We did add your chaat masala . Was perfect for this fall day. <3
    It took me more like an hour and ten but it was easy and fun.

    1. Sooo glad you liked it! I'm forgetting what the other recipe is that you liked? I assume you made it on the stovetop? You need a pressure cooker :). Making spaghetti squash in mine right now....

  3. Love how this looks so rich in flavour and is done so quickly. Curry is such an amazing spice. I definitely need to pull it out more often.

  4. I feel like as soon as the weather starts to get chilly I can't get enough lentils! Love this recipe and will certainly add it to my list of lentil loveliness! In fact I've already pinned it - YUM!