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Red Lentil Curry


50 min

Red Lentil Curry

Red Lentil Curry Photo 1




50 min


8 persons




4.00 rating-star (1)


Author: Victoria Bailey
This red lentil curry is rich and hearty. It's great as a main meal rather than a side dish like the more traditional Indian dhal. Don't let the ingredient list faze you — this is an easy dish to make. This dish is excellent served with basmati rice.


  • red lentils: 2 cups
  • water, or more as needed: 3 cups
  • vegetable oil: 1 Tbsp
  • onion, diced: 1 piece
  • curry paste: 2 Tbsp
  • curry powder: 1 Tbsp
  • ground turmeric: 1 tsp
  • ground cumin: 1 tsp
  • chili powder: 1 tsp
  • salt: 1 tsp
  • white sugar: 1 tsp
  • minced garlic: 1 tsp
  • minced fresh ginger: 1 tsp
  • (14.25 ounce) can tomato puree: 1 can

Metric Conversion

Stages of cooking

  1. Wash lentils in cold water until water runs clear.
    Red Lentil Curry Photo 2
  2. Put lentils in a pot with enough water to cover; bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer, adding water as needed to keep lentils covered, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.
    Red Lentil Curry Photo 3
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir onions in hot oil until caramelized, about 20 minutes.
    Red Lentil Curry Photo 4
  4. Mix together curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a large bowl; stir into onions. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
    Red Lentil Curry Photo 5
  5. Stir in tomato puree and lentils; cook until warmed through.
    Red Lentil Curry Photo 6

History of Red Lentil Curry:

The origin of Red Lentil Curry can be traced back to India, where lentils are a staple food. The dish was originally called "dhal," which means lentil in Hindi. Dhal is commonly made with yellow or green lentils, but the red lentil variety is becoming more popular because it has a smoother texture and requires less cooking time. Over time, the recipe for the curry sauce has evolved to include various spices and seasonings, making it a rich and flavorful dish.

Tips and Tricks for Red Lentil Curry Recipe:

  • Rinse the lentils thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.
  • For a deeper flavor, toast the curry powder and spices in a dry pan before adding them to the sauce.
  • Use canned tomato puree instead of fresh tomatoes to save time and ensure consistency in flavor.
  • Adjust the amount of water you add based on the consistency of the curry you prefer. Add more water if you want it to be soupy, or less if you want a thicker consistency.
  • Use vegetable oil or ghee for a vegan or vegetarian version of the dish.

Tips for presenting the dish:

  • Serve the Red Lentil Curry over basmati rice or with naan bread.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro, sliced green onions, or lime wedges for an extra burst of flavor.
  • Place the curry in a decorative bowl or on a colorful plate for a beautiful presentation.
  • If you're serving the dish for a crowd, consider making a double batch and keeping it warm in a slow cooker or chafing dish.

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