Creamy Coconut Lentils
So, I have a red cast iron Dutch oven. This is one of my favourite things that I own. I feel so wholesome when I use it. I always use it for lentil dishes (my husband calls it my “lentil pot) and usually for soups and stews. I like that it’s heavy, that it’s bright red, and that it will likely last me my entire life. Although it wasn’t a hand-me-down, it certainly could have been! In fact, one of the reasons I like it is that I know that when I use that pot, I’m cooking in the exact same way that generations of women before me have cooked in their cast-iron pots. Ok, enough of this sappy sentimentality – Onward!
The other day I took a craving for something spicy and coconutty. Coconut is one of my favourite things, I like coconut baked goods, anything with coconut milk or coconut cream, and I have been known to eat entire bags of coconut chips in one sitting. I also really like lentils. At Indian restaurants dal (dahl), in its various iterations, is one of our favourite dishes. We eat lentils often, lentil tacos, lentil Bolognese, Indian dal, etc etc etc. BUT I had never made a coconut lentil dish. So employing some of the skills and ingredients I have learned from making Indian dal, I decided to experiment with making creamy coconut lentils.
HOLY COW was this ever a resounding success!!! This dish does not taste like Indian curry, so if you don’t like Indian food (you crazy person, you) – not to worry this has nothing to do with it. Instead what I’ve ended up with is a super decadent creamy lentil dish that is spicy and coconutty at the same time. It suited my craving that day, and now I’ve made it 3 times this week because we can’t get enough of it!
You can make this dish as spicy or mild as you like. We really like spice so I put in two Thai chilies (you know those super spicy little ones). If you want it milder just use one chili or none at all.
Also, I’ve tried this with both lite coconut milk and regular coconut milk. Both are just fine. The regular coconut milk is simply creamier and a bit more decadent. It tastes like a special occasion dish to me. For everyday eating, lite coconut milk is probably what I’ll use at home. You do you!
I loved employing my red pot for this dish and you’ll see in my pictures that I didn’t plate the dish, I wanted to feature my beautiful pot for all to see!
This meal makes about 4-5 cups of creamy lentils and leftovers reheat perfectly on the stove or in the microwave. I advise serving it over hot basmati rice with some crusty bread for dipping.
Creamy Coconut Lentils
- 1 tbsp oil for sauteeing I like coconut for this oil because it adds to the coconutty flavour
- 1 onion diced
- 1-2 chilies minced (depending on spice preference)
- 3 cloves garlic minced, crushed, or grated
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup canned crushed or strained tomatoes medium tomatoes OR 2 grated or finely chopped medium tomatoes (about 1 cup)
- 1 1/4 cup red lentils rinsed
- 1 can coconut milk light or full-fat, see note
- 3/4 coconut milk can water
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pot over medium heat
- Add the onion and minced chili to the pot and stir. Cook until the onion beginning to soften and become translucent.
- Add the garlic and ginger to the pan. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes or until the garlic is cooked and the onion is beginning to brown.
- Stir in the spices and cook, stirring occasionally, until it becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and the salt, be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any flavourful brown bits.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes. The tomatoes should darken and it should smell amazing.
- Pour in the can of coconut milk, about 3/4 of a can of water, and the lentils. Stir to combine.
- Turn up the heat to medium high to bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to medium low.
- Simmer and stir occasionally for about 15-20 minutes or until the lentils have collapsed. They should not be al dente at all - red lentils should be VERY mushy. Don't worry, you can't really overcook red lentils.
- Once the lentils are cooked if the mixture is too watery, uncover and simmer without the lid to allow some liquid to evaporate. If the mixture seems too dry (at any point during the cooking) you can add a bit more water.
- Serve with rice and bread, garnish with a small sprinkling of unsweetened shredded coconut (optional).
If you make this recipe, please rate/comment below! Thanks 🙂
12 thoughts on “Creamy Coconut Lentils”
These lentils look AMAZING! So thick and creamy and perfect. Can’t wait to make this and DEVOUR it.
Thanks Laurel!! These lentils are sooo good – you are going to love this! 🙂
(side note: Love your blog! 🙂 I think your red lentil nuggets are going to make it onto my dinner plate asap!)
This was so easy to prepare and my whole family loved It! We made one small change and added cauliflower. It’s definitely going to be a regular dinner at our house.
Thanks for sharing this!!
Thanks for your kind words Nikki, I’m so glad your family loved it! I love that it’s so quick and hearty. Your addition of cauliflower is a fantastic idea that I might just have to try next time I make it!
Wow!!! I made this tonight with some homemade naan bread and basmati rice. My husband and I lo loved it! It has such a great depth of flavor. I removed the seeds from the chilis and it had the perfect amount of heat. Your recipe is going to be a new favorite for my family!!
Hi Kristen! Thanks so much for the feedback. I’m so glad you enjoyed the lentils! I bet dipping your homemade naan in it was amazing! 😀
We have just recently started eating plant based and this is our fav recipe of all. We do use coconut cream
Congrats on your kinder and healthier food journey. There are so many great foods awaiting you! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe. I just love it too, it hits all the notes: creamy, hearty, spicy, and quick!! 🙂
We tried this recipe with Quinoa instead of Lentils and it was great. As expected the texture was not as nice as with the Lentils but my son is reactive to lentils and rice so Quinoa is his go to these days. The only change is that I always use Coconut Cream instead of the Coconut Milk. Just a preference on my part, being plant based we don’t seem to get enough good fats and oils in our diets. Thanks for these great recipes.
Thanks for the update Irene! I’m so glad this worked out and now your son can enjoy this too!
This recipe looks amazing . I am going to the store tonight to get what’s needed. I just started my journey 32 days ago and I am loving it!
Hey Henrietta! I hope you enjoy this as much as my family and I do!! Good luck on your journey – you’ll find oodles of new ways of preparing and enjoying food!