This chickpea lentil curry is quick and easy to make, yet bursting with flavor and filled with healthy veggies and plant-based protein. Tender red lentils simmered with spices, tomatoes, spinach, and chickpeas in a creamy coconut milk sauce!

Chickpea red lentil curry served over white rice one a blue plate.

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Why make this recipe

This vegan red lentil curry is a perfect easy weeknight dinner, yet flavorful enough for a special occasion. Serve this flavorful curry over rice, quinoa, or your favorite grain, or eat it with some naan or flat bread.

Red lentils are small and tender and therefore cook faster than green lentils. They add color, texture, and tons of vegan protein to this easy meal. The spices in this dish will have your taste buds doing a happy dance, and your family and friends will think that you’re a master chef!

Delicious. Wouldn’t change a thing!

—Joy

Ingredients and substitutions

  • Olive Oil – to saute the onions, garlic, and aromatics. You can also use coconut oil or any other oil that you choose.
  • Onion – a medium onion adds flavor, but can be omitted if you don’t want to use it.
  • Garlic – for flavor.
  • Ginger Root – Fresh ginger root adds lots of flavor to the curry. You can also use 1/2 tsp of ginger powder if you don’t have fresh ginger.
  • Spices – You will need a good quality curry powder for this dish- I love the flavor of Balti Curry in this dish, but you can use garam masala or any yellow Indian curry that you want. You will also need, turmeric, cumin, and red pepper flakes. I also like to add a dash or two of cayenne pepper to make it spicier.
  • Red Lentils – these are small split lentils that cook quickly. You could use yellow lentils instead if you don’t have red ones.
  • Chickpeas – canned chickpeas that have been drained and rinsed or any cooked chickpeas. You can also swap out the chickpea for other plant-based proteins like fried tofu, seitan, or tempeh.
  • Tomatoes – a can of diced tomatoes and the juice or 1 1/2 cups of fresh diced tomatoes add flavor and acidity to the dish.
  • Vegetable Broth – You can use any vegan broth that you like, I like to use my homemade veggie broth. Use a low-sodium broth for a lower-sodium dish.
  • Baby Spinach – you can also swap this out for chopped kale.
  • Coconut Milk – full-fat canned coconut milk gives the dish a rich and creamy flavor. You can also use a can of coconut cream instead.
  • Rice – Serve the chickpea curry over a bed of basmati rice, brown rice, quinoa, or your favorite grain.
Red lentil curry in a a large  blue skillet.

Helpful tools

  • Large Frying Pan – you need a large skillet, wok, or heavy-bottomed pot.

How to make chickpea lentil curry

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

Step 1 – In a large skillet or pot, add the chopped onions to 2 tablespoons of oil then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and sauté for 5 minutes, over medium-low heat stirring frequently.

Step 2 – Add the minced garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and red pepper flakes and warm the spices in the oil and onions for 1 more minute, until fragrant.

Step 3 – Now add the red lentils, canned tomatoes and their juices, drained chickpeas, vegetable broth, and water to the pan. Stir well and turn the heat to high long enough to bring it to a slow boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Step 4 – Add a can of full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream to the lentil and chickpea mixture then stir well and simmer for 5 more minutes

Step 5 – Add the baby spinach and stir until wilted then garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley if desired. Add a dash or two of cayenne pepper to achieve the desired spice level.

Step 6 – Serve hot over rice or any grain or serve it with Naan or flatbread for dipping.

You can also add some extra creaminess to your red lentil curry by drizzling it with some cashew cream, vegan sour cream, or some vegan yogurt before serving.

Pro Tips

  • Be sure to saute the onions, garlic, ginger, and other spices in some oil over low heat before adding the rest of the ingredients to bring out the flavors.
  • Add the coconut milk towards the end of cooking, you will have a creamier sauce if you don’t boil the coconut milk.
  • You can use kale instead of spinach if you would like. To do this chop the kale into small pieces and add it to the dish after the lentils have simmered for about 5 minutes. (Kale needs to cook much longer than spinach.)
A blue skillet filled with vegan chickpea red lentil curry.

Storage and reheating

Refrigerate: This chickpea lentil curry will keep well in the fridge for 3 – 5 days in an airtight container. ( It tastes reheated and is ideal for meal prep and reheated lunches.)

Freeze: Chickpea curry freezes well and can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Reheating: Reheat a serving of the curry in the microwave for about 3 minutes or add a few tablespoons of water and reheat it in a saucepan on the stovetop.

A blue plate filled with rice and topped with vegan chickpea lentil curry with a fork on the side.

If you love curry, be sure to try my other curry recipes as well like butternut squash curry, red Thai veggie curry, green Thai curry with tofu, coconut curry soup, potato and spinach curry, and coconut curry rice.

More easy vegan meals

Chickpea red lentil curry recipe

A blue skillet filled with chickpea lentil curry being stirred with a wooden spoon.
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5 from 12 rating

Chickpea Lentil Curry

Red lentil curry with chickpeas, coconut milk, and spinach.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoon balti seasoning, or curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes, depending on desired spice level
  • 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, drained
  • 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 13.5 ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, or parsley (chopped)

Equipment

Instructions
 

  • Cook your choice of rice or grain according to package directions or make my basmati rice to serve the curry over.

To make the curry

  • In a large skillet or pot, add the chopped onions to 2 tablespoons of oil then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and sauté for 5 minutes, over medium-low heat stirring frequently.
  • Add the minced garlic, ginger, turmeric, curry powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes and warm the spices in the oil and onions for 1 more minute, until fragrant.
  • Now add the red lentils, canned tomatoes and their juices, drained chickpeas, vegetable broth, and water to the pan. Stir well and turn the heat to high long enough to bring it to a slow boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add a can of full-fat coconut milk (or coconut cream) to the lentil and chickpea mixture then stir well and simmer for 5 more minutes
  • Add the baby spinach and stir until wilted then garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley if desired. Add a dash or two of cayenne pepper to achieve the desired spice level.
  • Serve hot over rice or any grain or serve it with Naan or flatbread for dipping.

Notes

  • Be sure to saute the onions, garlic, ginger, and other spices in some oil over low heat before adding the rest of the ingredients to bring out the flavors.
  • Add the coconut milk towards the end of cooking, you will have a creamier sauce if you don’t boil the coconut milk.
  • You can use kale instead of spinach if you would like. To do this chop the kale into small pieces and add it to the dish after the lentils have simmered for about 5 minutes. (Kale needs to cook much longer than spinach.)
Serving: 1cup, Calories: 323kcal, Carbohydrates: 36g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 736mg, Potassium: 722mg, Fiber: 14g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1356IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 79mg, Iron: 6mg
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