Fast Recipes

Coconut-curried lentils

How to turbo-charge the humble lentil with fragrance and spice.

By Lisa Featherby
  • Serves 4
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It's not a dhal, but these curried lentils take inspiration from the spiced lentil dishes of the subcontinent. The tempered spices bear some semblance to tradition, the curry powder and stock do not, though they add flavour and dimension in their own ways. The result? Warm and spiced vegetarian comfort that will satisfy the appetite and soothe the soul.


  • 280 gm split red lentils
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1½ tbsp hot curry powder
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 400 ml chicken stock (substitute with vegetable stock for vegetarians)
  • Steamed basmati rice or naan, yoghurt, and sliced cucumber, to serve
Tempered spices
  • 50 gm ghee
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • Handful of fresh curry leaves


  • 1
    Rinse lentils well; set aside.
  • 2
    Heat oil or ghee in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until just tender and starting to turn golden (5 minutes), then stir through cinnamon and curry powder until fragrant (1 minute).
  • 3
    Add lentils to pan with coconut milk and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, lower heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally until lentils are tender (15-20 minutes).
  • 4
    For tempered spices, heat ghee in a saucepan over high heat. Add spices and stir until fragrant (10 seconds), then add curry leaves and remove from heat. Serve dhal with tempered spices spooned over, topped with yoghurt, sliced cucumber and rice or naan on the side.