Red Lentil Curry

5 from 120 votes

Red lentil curry is an easy and hearty Indian-inspired vegan recipe that's made with lentils, sweet potatoes, aromatic Indian spices & broth!

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This Red Lentil Curry recipe celebrates humble red lentils as the star of the dish, cooked in a creamy tomato based sauce with sweet potatoes and aromatic Indian spices. If you’re never tried a curry recipe before, this one is a great one to start with!

Two bowls of red lentil curry over rice with cilantro, yogurt and lime wedges
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Red lentils are an underdog ingredient. You don’t see them often in recipes, yet they are such a great inexpensive, healthy and delicious plant-based protein.

ingredients to make the recipe

  • Lentils: Red lentils are a great go to for weeknight meals as they only require a short cooking time. This dish is ready to serve in just 30 minutes!
  • Vegetables: Onion, garlic and sweet potato. You can of course add in other veggies you have to hand like mushrooms or bell peppers.
  • Red curry paste: A pre made red curry paste is a quick and easy way to add flavor to your dish. Use your favorite brand.
  • Seasonings and spices: Fresh ginger, curry powder, turmeric, cumin and salt.
  • Broth: To keep this red lentil curry vegan, use store bought or this homemade vegetable broth, but chicken will work well too.
Ingredients to make the recipe

How to make red lentil curry

  1. Soften the garlic and onions.
  2. Stir in the curry paste, curry powder, turmeric and cumin.
  3. Add the red lentils, sweet potatoes and pour in the broth.
  4. Let simmer til the lentil and sweet potatoes are cooked through and tender.
4 image collage to show how to make the recipe

Tips for making red lentil curry

  1. Rinse the red lentils before cooking. The main reason you’ll want to do this is to remove debris or shrivelled lentils. You can soak them in water if you’d like, which will decrease their cooking time. But this step is not usually necessary, especially since you’ll be cooking them for a while with the sweet potatoes anyways.
  2. Cook the spices before adding the vegetables. You can cook the spices alone with the oil or with the onions and garlic. This allows them to release their full flavor so you can get the most out of the spices. If they simple simmer with the vegetables, they won’t have the same effect or bloom.
  3. Customize it with any vegetables or protein. There’s a good serving of protein in the vegetarian curry dish. But if you want to add beef or chicken or fish, you can add it when the sweet potatoes go in. You can also bulk this up with any other vegetables like carrots, cauliflower or peas.
  4. Go heavy on the spices. Curries are heavily spiced dishes. The curry gets all the flavor from the combination of warm smokey spices, so start with my guide below, but feel free to add more. And feel free to tweak it with what you have on hand along with adding some chiles for a more spicy curry.
  5. Thin out the curry with some water. The red lentil curry will continue to get thicker as it cooks and as it cools. So you can add more water to get your the desired consistency you like.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make this curry with green lentils?

We love to use red lentils, especially when time is short as they cook pretty quickly. You can use green lentils, but try soaking them in water for 15 to 20 minutes first to help them to soften. They may take a little longer to get tender and once cooked, they will keep their shape unlike red lentils.

How long does it keep?

This red lentil curry will keep well in the fridge for 4 to 5 days and it’s easily reheated in a pot on the stovetop. It also freezes really well, for up to 3 months. Thaw it fully in the fridge overnight before reheating.

What do you serve it with?

We like to serve this with a dollop of Greek yogurt, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. It’s hearty enough to enjoy by itself, or serve it up with some naan or a side of brown rice.

Close up shot of the final red lentil curry recipe plated in white bowls

This is a rich and hearty red lentil curry that is similar to a traditional Indian dhal recipe. Don’t be intimidated by the idea that curry needs to take a long time or have a long list of complicated ingredients. You can actually whip this up in 30 minutes and have an impressive vegan meal the whole family will love.

This is such a versatile recipe, so you can vary the taste, vary the heat and vary the ingredients as you like. It’s definitely a keeper!

For more similar recipes:

If you try this healthy-ish feel good Red Lentil Curry recipe or any other recipe on Feel Good Foodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. We would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots, share it on Instagram so we can repost on Stories!

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Red Lentil Curry

Red lentil curry is an easy and hearty Indian-inspired vegan recipe that's made with lentils, sweet potatoes, aromatic Indian spices & broth!
5 from 120 votes
Servings 6 servings
Course Entree
Calories 317
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
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  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1 inch knob fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • Fresh cilantro for serving
  • Greek yogurt for serving
  • Lime wedges for serving


  • Wash the lentils in cold water until the water runs clear and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add onions, garlic, and ginger and cook until soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin and salt and mix together until the onions are well coated and fragrant.
  • Add the red lentils, sweet potatoes, and vegetable broth. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer until sweet potatoes are knife tender and red lentils are cooked and thickened, 35-40 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and yogurt.


Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 4-5 days in the fridge.
Freezing Instructions: This curry freezes really well for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Sourcing: I kept the spices pretty standard, so you can find them wherever you generally buy spices.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However here are some common substitutes that would work well in this recipe.
  • Instead of red lentils, you can use green lentils. Red lentils are typically used in Indian cuisine since they break down more easily than green lentils and are great for thickening curry.
  • Feel free to skip some spices or add other popular Indian spices like garam masala, ginger or cardamom. 
  • If you don’t want to use sweet potatoes, you can use white potatoes or add other vegetables like peas, carrots or cauliflower.


Calories: 317kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Sodium: 414mg, Potassium: 767mg, Fiber: 21g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 6169IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 68mg, Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine Indian
Course: Entree
5 from 120 votes (111 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. Missy says:

    What kind of red curry paste do you use? Is it Thai red curry paste, or something else? Thanks.

  2. LC says:

    If one doesn’t have red curry paste and is also intimidated by its “spicyness” is there a good substitute? Green curry paste or omit?
    Thank you!

  3. Jodi says:

    Super yummy. Rather than pureed tomatoes I added fire roasted and a small can of tomorrow paste. I also added carrots during cooking and spinach in the end. I ate with cool greek yogurt and it was perfect. Such a healthy and yummy meal. Thank you!!!

    1. Yumna says:

      Sounds great, so glad you liked it!

  4. Kona Bella says:

    This was absolutely delish. I added 1/4 tsp. Smoked Paprika to the spice mixture and it was perfectly spiced. Not too hot and not too not. My soup became very thick after 15 mins of simmering . I didn’t want to add anymore broth which could lesson the spices. What a great dinner. My husband loved it.

    1. Yumna says:

      Yay, so happy you enjoyed this one!

  5. Remi says:

    I didn’t have red lentils, so had to use green ones and chikpeas. It still came up very tasty.
    Thank you for the recipe. I will definiately try again with red lentils next time.

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Love this! So glad it turned out well!

  6. rachel says:

    Oh this was so tasty. I did use a big white potato instead of sweet potato because I’m not a sweet potato fan. Threw in a can of diced tomatoes for more veg. It was a great combination and hit the spot. Definitely a keeper.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you! I’m glad it worked out either way. Yay!!

  7. Roula says:

    I don’t like lentils so I’ve tried many different recipes over the years to somehow make it work 😂 This one is definitely the best! I really enjoyed them! The spices, the sweet potato work so well. And the yogurt on top makes all the difference! SO GOOD.

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! That’s amazing!

  8. Jeannie says:

    This is delicious! We’ve never done much with lentils before but we’re thankful you’ve brought them to our table!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you! So glad you enjoyed!

  9. Britni Liberto says:

    Excellent! Tastes authentic blessed to live by an indian grocery store used the white sweet potatoes they sell and added coconut milk at end. Hearty and theraputic!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Thank you so much! That’s great to hear!

  10. Hannah says:

    This was such an easy and delicious meal! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      That’s great to hear. Thank you!! Happy to have shared.

  11. Leslie says:

    This was amazing! Used the curry paste but was out of curry powder so I subbed smoked paprika and this dish was awesome! While family was crazy for it. Found the imagine super red at my Wegmans. Thank you for this!!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Yay! I’m so happy to hear that you made it and liked it! And its great you were able to find the Super Reds…it’s such a great base for soups and curries.
      PS: I miss Wegmans…I used to live by one outside of Boston – favorite grocery store ever!

  12. Amy says:

    Has never had red lentils. Yet, when I took a look at some of the ingredients, I immediately went for this rich homemade recipe.
    Glad I did