This spicy curry lentils is one of my favorite recipes because it is easy to make, uses staple ingredients and is bursting with flavor. The curry "gravy " is super spicy and aromatic. This is the perfect curry recipe for a chilly day. This recipe also works very well for meal prep since the flavors and texture last up to 3-4 days when stored in the refrigerator properly.
In this recipe lentils make up the body of the dish. Lentils are an amazing source of vegan protein and nutrition. They have a neutral flavor which makes them very versatile. This spicy lentil curry is intensely spiced which pairs very well with the mild flavored lentils. I used French green lentils for this recipe but brown lentils can be substituted. I used precooked lentils but you may use canned or cook them from dry. Add an extra 20 minutes to the preparation time if cooking them from dry.
The intense flavors in this spicy curry lentils come from aromatics and spices. We use the aromatic ginger, garlic and onions as the base. Then cumin seeds, turmeric, smoked paprika, garam masala, coriander and cayenne bring the heat. The tomato paste gives it a bit of tang and helps thicken the curry sauce. Lastly we activate the turmeric by adding fresh ground black pepper. A fresh pop of cilantro finishes it off.
I serve this Spicy Curry Lentils with brown rice and roasted winter squash for a complete and hardy meal. The brown rice soaks up the extra sauce nicely. If you are on a higher protein diet, sub quinoa for the rice. Or skip the rice entirely and eat it with some naan bread or even a whole wheat pita.
Spicy Curry Lentils
- large skillet or wok
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 yellow onion minced
- 3 tbsp ginger minced
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 2 ½ cups French Green Lentils pre-cooked
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp garam masala
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- 1 black pepper to taste
- ½ cup cilantro
- Heat the oil over medium then fry the garlic, onion and ginger for 5 minutes stirring often until fragrant.
- Add cumin seeds and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant
- Add tomato paste and stir into the fragrant mixture. Cook for 3 minutes stirring often to caramelize the tomato paste. The color will get darker in this process. Add the turmeric, cumin and coriander and stir into the mix.
- Add the lentils and water and stir well and bring to a boil. Add salt, smoked paprika, garam masala and cayenne. Let it simmer on medium low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until flavors have combined and curry is thick.
- Finish by adding black pepper to taste and stirring in half of the cilantro. Serve topped with more black pepper and the remaining cilantro.