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Red Lentils with Coconut Milk and Warming Spices

Coconut Spiced Lentils | Umami GirlHere’s a nice simple post about a nice simple meal for you on this Monday morning. These red lentils with coconut milk and warming spices only came about because one evening I didn’t have all the ingredients for Ottolenghi’s red lentils, which you need to know about too. But I did have a few of the ingredients and a can of coconut milk, and it turns out that’s all it took. I’m glad it worked out that way, because you can never have enough ways to make red lentils. Compared to other legumes, they cook up so quickly it’s almost magical. And they make great, delicious comfort food that’s good for you as a mere bonus.

On a totally different note, as this post arrives we are on our way to the Canadian Rockies for two weeks. We’ll explore Calgary with friends, then do some hiking, lake-ogling and hopefully minimal bear sighting in Banff National Park, and end with a few days walking and eating Vancouver. It couldn’t be a more beautiful place, so please follow along on Instagram if you like. I plan to take an obscene number of photos (but zero obscene photos), and I’ll put together some detailed posts about our experiences and recommendations when we’re back.

Have a great start to the week. See you soon.
Carolyn xx

P.S. Links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy something I’ll earn a small percentage of the sale. That helps keep Umami Girl bringing you gestalt and pepper as often as possible. Thanks for your support!

Coconut Spiced Red Lentils

A healthful and flavorful comfort food dinner that's ready in under an hour.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons black/brown mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • Pinch of ground cayenne
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 5 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 2 cups dry red lentils
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 lime


  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan that has a lid (but don't but the lid on yet).* Add the onion and ginger, sprinkle with the salt, and cook until the onion is softening and beginning to turn translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the turmeric, coriander, paprika and cayenne and cook, stirring, one minute. Then add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, one minute more.
  • Add the stock or water, lentils and coconut milk and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cover the pan.
  • Cook until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Off the heat, stir in some black pepper along with the cilantro and lime juice. Serve with rice.
  • by

    Recipe Notes

  • * I use this Le Creuset braiser.


    Hi there, I'm Carolyn, and I'm delighted you're here. I'm a NYC-area food, travel, yoga, coffee, wine, running, music making and book obsessive with a great family and a love for sharing it all with you. Grab a drink and come on in. Learn more.

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