Deliciously refreshing creamy lemony Lentil Curry made with simple ingredients. It’s reminiscent of the Mauritian Haleem, delivering a similar rich curry flavour but made a lot simpler. This versatile recipe can be made with any type of dried lentils, canned, or even yellow or green split peas; add any vegetables and accompany with rice or flatbread for a complete meal.
From soups to rice dishes, not forgetting salads and pasta dishes, lentils do find their way in many meals at our place. Most of the time, lentils probably don’t spark excitement; they are perhaps thought of as being merely a healthy option. Truth be told, I personally find lentils to be simply amazing.
My almost weekly go-to recipe is a simple lentil soup that we serve over rice. However, last week I spiced up the soup a little, turning it into an extra creamy fragrant curry. Best of all is that this lemony lentil curry comes together pretty quickly and is quite versatile.
I’ve added in a couple of vegetables, like potatoes and green beans, for extra nutrients while boosting the texture profile. But you can certainly leave the veggies out, or add any other vegetables of your choice — butternut squash, pumpkin, carrots or eggplant works great in this recipe too.
Creamy Lemony Lentil Curry calls for simple ingredients
Lentils — I’ve used green lentils, which is what I had on hand. Other types of lentils, dried or canned brown, red or yellow split lentils are great to use. I often make this curry with a mixture of yellow and green split peas resulting in a very delicious curry, but also an interesting colour. French lentils (or Du Puy lentils / black lentils) may not be as ideal to use as they tend to retain their shape, unless you cook then for a long time. In this recipe, we’d like the lentils to slightly melt into the sauce for a rich creamy texture.
Spices — curry powder, turmeric and cumin are the main spices that I use in this curry. I find thyme and lentils to go well together. So, I tend to always add a little thyme, whether fresh or dried, to lentils in general. Coriander powder is optional and you could leave it out altogether if you don’t have it on hand.
Coconut milk — for creaminess and to complement the tartness of the lemon juice. I recommend full fat canned coconut milk for best results.
Lemon juice — the key ingredient that makes this curry unique. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a Mauritian Haleem or Halim where lemon juice or vinegar is added when served.
- 200 g (1 cup) dried green or brown lentils, soaked for 2 - 4 hours
- 750 ml (3 cups) water
- 2 bay leaves
- 200 g (1 medium) potato, white or red, diced, optional
- 100 g (3.5 oz) green beans, cut into 2-3cm (1-inch) length
- 2 vine-ripened or Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 thumb-size ginger root, finely chopped or minced
- 2 - 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- 120 ml (½ cup) coconut milk
- Juice from ¼ - ½ lemon
- Water, as required to make sauce
- Salt to taste
- Fresh coriander leaves or cilantro, for garnish
Spice mix paste:
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder, optional
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Little water to make a paste
Cook the lentils:
- Drain soaked lentils, then place them with 750 ml of water, the bay leaves and a pinch of salt in a thick bottom pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Continue cooking covered, or partly covered, on medium heat until lentils are cooked, soft but not mushy. Check on the water level from time to time and add as required to continue cooking. There doesn’t need to be a lot of water in the pot, otherwise the curry will turn out soupy.
- Set the cooked lentils aside.
Make the curry:
- In a large saucepan or pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium temperature.
- Add the diced potatoes, stir to coat well with the oil. Fry the potatoes, while occasionally stirring, until golden on all sides and cooked through. Remove and set aside.
- Toss the green beans in the same pan, stir fry for about 5 minutes until half cooked. Remove and set aside.
- Mix all ingredients of the spice mix together to make a paste. Set aside.
- Add another tablespoon of oil in the pan. Add the minced ginger. Stir fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Next add in the spice mix paste. Roast for about 10 seconds, then add the tomatoes. Continue to cook for about 3 - 5 minutes, until tomatoes start to break down.
- Add the potatoes and green beans back to the pan. Add the lentils, coconut milk and bouillon stock cube. Add a little water if required to make more sauce. Simmer covered for about 5 - 8 minutes, until the edges of the potatoes start to slightly disintegrate into the sauce.
- Add salt to taste.
- Squeeze the lemon juice, stir to mix well. Add more lemon juice as per taste preference.
- Garnish with fresh coriander/cilantro. Enjoy warm over rice or with some homemade flatbread.