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Flavorful Curried Lentils “Stew” with Rice

A 20 minute vegetarian dinner that the whole family will love! Our Curried Lentils use canned lentils and strained tomatoes along with delicious Indian spices to create a wonderfully aromatic curry dish you will make time and time again. 

There is something about a good meatless meal that I just love! Curried Lentils are a super quick and easy way to incorporate more legumes into your diet while keeping the flavor game strong.

I promise you there is nothing boring about this dish! If you’re not used to cooking with these delicious little parcels of flavor, don’t worry.

I am going to provide you with some tips and tricks on how to enjoy this easy Lentil Curry without spending your entire day at the stove. 

For this recipe you will need: canned lentils, onion, strained tomatoes, cilantro, curry powder, ground ginger, garam  masala (see recipe for alternative), cayenne pepper, salt and vegetable oil. Rice for serving is optional. 

Bowls of Curried Lentils with spoons on a table

Curried lentils rescue boring dinners!

I am a huge fan of Indian spices and food, yet I find myself steering away from making them at home because I am always afraid of the time needed to really let the flavors stew together.

And as you know from most of our other recipes on here, we don’t like to spend hours making dinner during the week!

Cue our Curried Lentils! I have been cooking with lentils so much lately, see our Lentil Shepperd’s Pie ,  and decided  I wanted to try my hand at a stew-like recipe that didn’t take all afternoon to cook.

Now because we use canned lentils (they are a saving grace for weeknight meals!) I knew this dish was something I could pull off if I could just get my spices right in the amount of time allotted for a quick weeknight meal.

Thankfully my friend Google had all the answers I needed for savory spices to make this an easy Lentil Curry we could enjoy in under 25 minutes! Just take a look at it simmering away below.

Curried Lentils stewing on the stove

Curried lentils FAQ

What is lentil curry? 

Very simply, it is a vegetarian dish that uses a variety of Indian spices and is served atop a bed of basmati rice.

It can be enjoyed for a quick weeknight dinner and even made ahead of time to enjoy later in the week. Lentil Curry can also be frozen so you have it on hand whenever the craving hits.

Do you have to soak lentils?

For this particular recipe we use canned lentils rather than a bag of dried lentils. Using canned lentils allows this dish to be made quickly and doesn’t sacrifice nutrition or flavor.

If you want to use dried lentils instead you will need to make sure you soak them for about 1 hour to ensure they are soft enough for your curried lentil stew.

How do you make lentil curry?

The key to a curry with a depth of flavor is to create a paste like mixture with your spices and onions before adding the remainder of your ingredients.

Sauteed Onions with Curry Spices in large pot

Once you let your spices become fragrant you add the strained tomatoes and lentils and allow to simmer until it thickens (about 10 minutes).

We stir in some cilantro at this point as well but that is optional. While your mixture thickens you will need to cook some rice for serving, or serve with toasted naan bread instead.

You may need…

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A good quality saucepan is a staple in any kitchen. This  4-quart one from Cuisinart is perfect for large batches of stews and soups!

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Yield: 6 people

Curried Lentils "Stew"

Bowl of Curried Lentils on a table

20 minute vegetarian dinner using canned lentils and strained tomatoes along with Indian spices to create an aromatic curry dish your family will love!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 2 cans Cooked Lentils, Rinse and drain
  • 1 jar Strained Tomatoes, 22 oz
  • 1 medium Onion, Diced
  • 1 bunch Fresh Cilantro, *optional*
  • 2 teaspoons Curry Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala, *see notes to make your own*
  • 3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Water
  • Cooked Basmati Rice , for serving


  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add in onions and allow to brown, about 5 minutes, stir frequently.
  2. While onions are browning combine all spices in a small bowl. Add to browned onions and cook for 1 minute allowing it to become fragrant and like a paste. 
  3. Add in strained tomatoes, along with lentils and water. Gently rip up about 1/4 cup of cilantro and add to the mixture. Stir well and allow to simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. 
  4. Stir in another finely chopped cilantro and season with salt. 
  5. Serve over a bed of rice or with a warm piece of naan bread.


Make your own Garam Marsala (yields 1/4c)

Simply combine the following spices:

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom & ground cloves
  • 4 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground pepper & ground cumin

Place in an airtight container and keep with your other spices. 

Curried Lentils can be made ahead of time as they are even better when the flavors sit. You can also freeze any leftover up to 3 months in an airtight container. 

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 202Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 12mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 7gSugar: 5gProtein: 8g

*Please note that nutritional values are not always 100% accurate and are to be used as a guide.

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Curried Lentils long pin
A 20 minute vegetarian dinner that the whole family will love! Recipe using canned lentils and strained tomatoes along with delicious Indian spices to create a wonderfully aromatic curry dish you will make time and time again. #EasyCurried Lentils #VegetarianDish #lentils

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