Red Lentil Curry

Red Lentil Curry served with whole wheat Indian chapati bread

Curried lentils are a staple in Indian cooking. They’re inexpensive, easy to make, and a delicious source of plant based protein. I love split red lentils because you don’t have to soak them overnight. Split red lentils are easy to find in most grocery stores – I bought mine at Trader Joe’s but Bob’s Red Mill also makes them. Typically, Indian food requires lots of ingredients but this recipe is great because it contains less than 10 ingredients! It’s something I could eat every day with a warm, whole wheat tortilla, rice, or quinoa. Traditionally, lentils are served with whole wheat Indian flatbread called chapati. This is a great, low calorie alternative to soy protein. It’s a little spicy, hearty, and comforting. It’s also great alone if you are looking for a lower carb meal. This recipe calls for whole cumin seeds (not ground). Cumin seeds impart a completely different flavor and aroma when they are used whole vs ground. They’re less pungent and impart a crave-worthy nutty flavor. Let me know if you make Red Lentil Curry by tagging @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram!

Raw split red lentils
Whole cumin seeds have a delicious, nutty flavor

Red Lentil Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 cup split red lentils, rinsed and sorted (such as Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tbs cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (plus more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)


Place lentils (rinsed and sorted to remove any debris) and 3 cups water in a medium saucepan. Cook on low to medium heat, stirring frequently, for 25-30 minutes until lentils are soft and about 2/3 of the water has been absorbed. Heat oil in another medium sized saucepan on medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and fry for about 30-60 seconds, stirring frequently. Cumin seeds will turn darker brown and become fragrant (you may hear them pop). Next, lower heat and add garlic and cook for another minute. Add tomatoes and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until tomatoes are soft. Stir in cooked red lentils, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. Add more salt and crushed red pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice (optional). Makes 4 cups. May store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories for 1 cup: 165 cal
  • Approximate protein for 1 cup: 10 grams
A great meal on its own!

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