Make this creamy Chickpea and Lentil Curry tonight ... it's quick, easy, and so delicious!
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I don't know about you, but I've been doing more cooking than ever lately. At this point, I'm kind of over it, so I've been relying on my favorite fast and easy recipes ... like this Chickpea Lentil Curry.
This recipe actually started as a bit of a desperation meal! I was trying to use up a can of garbanzo beans and bag of lentils, and I decided to turn them into a red coconut curry. Kind of an unlikely combo, but I loved it so much, that I ended up making it over and over again.
This quick curry is super tasty, but the best part is that it makes throwing dinner together a snap. You can have a complete meal—that tastes amazing!—on the table in about 30 minutes.
Ready to start cooking? Then, keep reading for all the delicious details!
My inspiration for this recipe came from a few places ... starting with what was in my cupboard! Apart from the fresh veggies, the simple ingredients are basic pantry staples that I like to keep on hand for quick, easy dinners.
Chickpeas and lentils are a natural pair that's healthy and hearty. You'll often find them served together in dishes like Indian dahl, a thick lentil soup / stew. But for this recipe, I've paired them with the curry paste and coconut milk that's typical in a Thai red curry.
The resulting dish is a fun combo that's full of flavor, yet quick to make!
This recipe is versatile, too. Serve this vegan Red Lentil Curry whenever you need a fast meatless dinner, or make it ahead of time for meal prep. You can even change up the ingredients a bit, depending on what you have on hand ... see my tips below.
This quick recipe uses ingredients you'll find in most grocery stores. Here's what you'll need:
- Veggies: Onions, Carrots, and Grape Tomatoes
- Fresh Garlic
- Red Curry Paste
- Brown Sugar (Optional)
- Coconut Milk
- Canned Chickpeas
- Dried Red Lentils
- Vegetable Broth (I make mine from bouillon.)
- Fresh Lime
- Salt (I prefer Kosher salt.)
This Chickpea and Red Lentil Curry is inspired by the flavors of the classic Thai red curry. I purposely kept this recipe very simple though, so it could be made with pantry staples, plus a few fresh ingredients that are easy to find.
A combination of canned chickpeas and dried red lentils forms the basis of this thick, hearty stew. As the lentils cook, they'll start to break down, thickening the stew. If you'd prefer, you can use yellow lentils instead of red.
I used Red Curry Paste here, but you can substitute Green Curry Paste, if you wish. It works just as well, although it will give the curry a different flavor profile. You'll pair the paste with coconut milk (use full-fat for best results) and vegetable broth to form the creamy sauce.
You can add even more flavor to this simple recipe by adding some fresh ginger (add it along with the garlic), or you can spice things up with hot peppers. Feel free to stir in some spinach at the very end, too, if you'd like to add extra veggies.
What is Curry Paste?
Curry paste is mixture of fresh and dried ingredients, such as chilies, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, shallots, lime leaves, and other spices. It's commonly used in Thai cooking and often pared with coconut milk.
Here in the U.S., Thai Kitchen seems to be the most common brand found in grocery stores, so that's what I used. This brand of chili paste is fairly mild, which is why I used a whole jar (about ½ cup of paste). The resulting curry is also pretty mild.
If you use another brand of curry paste, make sure to taste it first! Other brands may be spicier, so you may want to cut back to two or three tablespoons or so. Use your judgement ... you can always add more, if needed.
Keep in mind, too, that not all curry pastes are vegetarian / vegan (Thai Kitchen is vegan). Read the label carefully, if that's an issue for you.
You'll Also Need
To make this Coconut Lentil Curry recipe, you'll also need a large skillet with a lid. I have this Calphalon Frying Pan, and it's perfect ... I use it for everything from veggie burgers to stir fries! Don't have a pan with a lid? Cover the skillet with a piece of aluminum foil instead.
How to Make Chickpea and Lentil Curry
This recipe couldn't be easier to make, so let's get started!
You'll begin by sautéing the onions and carrots in a little oil. Once the veggies start to soften, add the garlic and cook it just until it starts smelling fragrant. It should only take about 30 seconds or so.
Next, you're going to add the curry paste. Stir it in until the veggies are coated, then continue cooking for about a minute. As you sauté the curry paste, you'll wake up all the delicious flavors.
If you're using the brown sugar, add it along with the curry paste. The brown sugar adds a touch of sweetness that pairs perfectly with the salty, spicy, and sour flavors typically found in Thai food.
After a minute, add the chickpeas, red lentils, vegetable broth, coconut milk, and grape tomatoes. Stir everything together well, then increase the heat and bring the curry to a boil.
Once the curry boils, reduce the heat to a simmer. Then, cover the pan with a lid, leaving a small crack. You'll cook the curry for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the curry has thickened and the lentils are tender. Make sure to stir the curry occasionally to keep it from stick.
As the lentils cook, they'll start breaking down, which helps to thicken the stew. The finished dish will be fairly thick. If it gets too thick while cooking and starts sticking, add splash of broth or coconut milk to thin things out a bit.
Before serving, stir in fresh cilantro and season to taste with salt. (If you can't stand cilantro, use flat leaf parsley instead.) I also like to give the stew a really good stir ... this will break down the lentils even more, making the finished dish thicker and creamier. Yum!
What to Serve with Curry Lentils and Chickpeas
This easy Chickpea Lentil Curry recipe is a meal in a bowl! You can enjoy it on its own, but I prefer serving it over rice (jasmine rice is especially tasty) topped with a sprinkle of cilantro and a lime wedge.
This recipe is very hearty, and will serve about four to six people (depending on appetite size). If you'd like to round out the meal a bit more though, try serving it with a simple salad, sautéed veggies or greens, or a cucumber salad.
If you enjoyed this recipe, check out these other coconut curries next!
- Coconut Curry with Chickpeas and Spinach
- Easy Pumpkin Curry
- Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry
- Roasted Carrot Soup
- Curried Corn Chowder
Looking for Indian-inspired flavors? Then, you'll like my Chickpea Potato Curry and my Quinoa Chickpea Burgers, too! And don't miss my roundup of 30 Minute Vegetarian Meals if you need for more quick recipe ideas.
Chickpea and Lentil Curry
- 2 teaspoons cooking oil (such as canola or vegetable)
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (4-ounce) jar red curry paste (see note below)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar, optional
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup red lentils (picked over and rinsed)
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk (use full fat for best results)
- ½ pint grapes tomatoes, halved (about 1 cup)
- kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (plus more for serving)
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- cooked rice, for serving
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots and onion; season lightly with salt. Cook until onions are starting to become tender, stirring occasionally (about 7 to 10 minutes).
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly (about 30 seconds).
- Mix in curry paste and brown sugar (if using) to coat veggies, then continue cooking for one minute, stirring constantly.
- Stir in chickpeas, lentils, broth, coconut milk, and grape tomatoes, then bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer, then cover pan with lid, leaving a small crack open. Simmer until lentils are tender and starting to break down, stirring occasionally (about 15 to 20 minutes).
- Remove pan from heat, then stir in cilantro and season to taste with salt.
- Serve curry over rice, topped with a sprinkle of cilantro and a lime wedge. Enjoy!