Simplest Lentil Curry 2.000

Justin Tsucalas for The Washington Post; food styling by Nichole Bryant for The Washington Post

Plant-Powered Newsletter Aug 9, 2019

Lentils, the powerhouse of plant-based proteins, transform into a satiating meal with a few tricks. Ginger, curry powder and cumin add complexity, and yogurt provides creamy body. The dish is simple, affordable and packed with nutrients. What’s not to love?

Not all types of lentils are interchangeable: Cooking times vary among green, red, brown and black varieties. Make sure to choose red lentils for this recipe. Heat levels can vary among different brands of curry powder. If you aren’t sure how spicy your curry powder is, start with 1 tablespoon, then taste and add more as needed.

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Make Ahead: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; reheat on the stove top. This recipe calls for cooked rice; if you don’t buy it that way, it’s a good idea to get the rice started before you cook the lentils. To reheat cooked rice, add a splash of water and reheat over medium-low heat in a covered pot until warmed and moist.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 2 servings

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • One 3/4-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, grated (1 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon mild curry powder (see headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dried red lentils (see headnote)
  • One 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (may substitute regular coconut milk)
  • 2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice (see headnote)
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish


Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until it’s translucent. Stir in the garlic, ginger, curry powder and cumin, and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the water, lentils, tomatoes, peas and salt. Cook, gently bubbling at the edges, for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Remove the lentils from the heat.

Add a few spoonfuls of the hot lentil mixture to a bowl, then whisk in the yogurt. Dump the tempered mixture back into the pot and stir until fully combined; this will ensure the yogurt won’t separate when it’s added to the pot. (If you’re using coconut milk, skip this step.)

Serve warm over the rice, garnished with cilantro.

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Recipe Source

From Sonja Overhiser and Alex Overhiser of

Tested by Sonja Overhiser and Alex Overhiser.

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