This Thai red lentil curry recipe only needs 4 simple ingredients and is pure comfort food. The creamy red lentils along with the coconut curry flavor and Thai spices make for a flavorful and easy meatless dish for weeknight dinners.
You might also like this low carb Thai red curry zucchini soup!
I’ve been wanting to play around red lentils for a while now. I had a big jar of them but never got around to it. However the other day I was in the mood for Thai food and thought why can’t I combine the flavors of a red curry and red lentils?
So today I created this delicious and easy Thai red lentil curry that is so filling and delicious that it’s perfect comfort food on a cold winter day. The texture is almost like mashed potatoes and the flavor from the creamy coconut milk along with the Thai spices make this into a delicious meatless meal.
Why I love healthy red lentils.
Lentils are a good source of plant based protein and very popular in a vegetarian diet but I love them because they are delicious. They are an inexpensive food that can be used in a variety of ways. The nutrition of 1 cup of uncooked lentils red lentils:
- 22g protein
- 10g fiber
- 40mg calcium
- 6mg iron
- 60mg potassium
There are a few types of lentils but I used red lentils which tend to be mild and may become slightly mushy when cooked down. They are often used in soups and stews. Yellow lentils are similar to red lentils.
Brown lentils and green lentils hold their shape better than the red or yellow. They are milder in flavor but often used in veggie burgers, in salads or soups. To learn more check out this excellent lentils article in Cooking Light.
Recipe ingredients I used and substitutes.
You only need 4 ingredients to make this simple recipe – red lentils, Swerve brown sugar sweetener, unsweetened coconut milk and Thai red curry paste. I also used extra water, fresh lime juice, cilantro and green onions as garnish. If you have some Thai basil that would also make a tasty garnish in place of the fresh cilantro.
I used split red lentils as shown below. Most stores sell split red lentils which are much quicker to cook. Note you could use brown or green lentils but it will take longer to cook and the texture will be a bit different.
I used light coconut milk because that is what I had on hand. You could also use full fat coconut milk or coconut cream if you want. But if you do you want to use coconut cream, mix it with the water that comes in the can. You need 3 cups of liquid for this recipe so you want to add water to the coconut milk to equal 3 cups, regardless if it’s coconut cream or milk.
While I used water along with the coconut milk but you can substitute with vegetable broth or stock or even chicken broth if you want for extra flavor.
Swerve Brown Sugar Sweetener
I used this because I usually make low carb recipes and therefore love this sweetener. However you can just use regular brown sugar as a substitute.
Thai Red Curry Paste
This Thai paste has all the ingredients chili pepper, garlic, lemongrass, etc. that you need to add those delicious Asian flavors to this dish. You can find this brand of curry paste at most big grocery stores.
I also like Mae Ploy curry pastes and buy them on Amazon. You can also find these pastes in an Asian market. You just want to make sure you buy Thai curry paste and not an Indian curry paste.
How to make Thai red lentil curry.
Step 1: Rinse then soak the red lentils for about 10 minutes while you make the sauce.
Step 2: Get out a pot and heat to medium heat. Add the coconut milk, water, brown sugar and Thai red curry paste. Remember the liquid has to equal 3 cups. Whisk together to blend and then bring to a simmer.
NOTE: Start with 1 tablespoon of paste then taste to make sure it is spicy enough for you. I ended up adding another tablespoon because I like spicy food and wanted a little more heat.
Step 3: Drain the lentils and then add to the sauce. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked through. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Taste and season with salt if you think it needs more.
Cooking time may vary just make sure the lentils are cooked through and it should look like the photo below. The cooked lentils will have a creamy texture.
Step 4: To garnish you can use a combination of fresh squeezed lime juice, chopped green onions and fresh cilantro leaves. I found a squeeze lime juice is definitely necessary. And the fresh flavors of the cilantro and green onions definitely added more flavor to the dish so I highly recommend them.
Store leftovers in an airtight container. You can even freeze this fairly well if you want to use this recipe for meal prep. Please scroll down to view the printable recipe card.
If you want to make this more of a meal or dinner you can serve with naan bread and a simple green salad. I love Aldi’s naan bread and use it in a lot of my flat bread recipes!
More healthy recipes using Thai red curry paste.
As I mentioned above you can find Thai Kitchen red curry paste at most grocery stores and I also like Mae Ploy curry pastes. I use them both in a lot of dishes and below are a few of my favorite recipes that use this ingredient.
- eggplant vegetable curry
- red curry butternut squash noodles with veggies
- Thai meatball curry or turkey burgers or marinated flank steak
- coconut curry soup with shrimp
- roasted pumpkin seeds or nut mix
I really enjoyed this simple Thai red lentil curry. It was so comforting to me and I loved the flavor combination of the coconut and Thai spices. Plus it’s a healthy dinner and nice change of pace. I hope you enjoy it too.
- 1 can coconut milk (I used 13.5oz can)
- 1 ¼ cup water (add water to coconut milk to equal 3 cups)
- 1 cup split red lentils
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or brown sweetener)
- 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- cilantro leaves (optional)
- chopped green onions (optional)
- Add the red lentils to a small bowl and cover with water to soak for 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile get out a medium size pan and turn the heat to medium heat. Add the coconut milk, water, brown sugar, curry paste and salt to the pan. NOTE: You want to use 3 cups of liquid so depending on the amount of coconut milk in the can, add enough water to equal 3 cups total of liquid)
- Whisk to combine. Start with 1 tablespoon of paste then taste to make sure it is spicy enough for you. I ended up adding another tablespoon because I like spicy food and wanted it more spicy. Bring to a simmer and then drain the lentils and add them to the pan.
- Bring the pan to a boil and then turn downt he heat until it's simmering. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Cooking time may vary just make sure the lentils are cooked through and it should look a bit like loose mashed potatoes when they are done. Let set for 10 more minutes and they will coninue to soak up the liquid.
- When done serve in bowls with fresh lime wedges. A squeeze of lime juice over top is perfect with this dish. And you can use toppings like fresh cilantro leaves, chopped green onions, yogurt, sour cream, etc.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container. This is also freezes well.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 277Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 576mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 7g