This chicken and red lentil curry is one of the easiest and my favorite curry dish. It is made with organic red lentils, juicy chicken thighs meat and coconut milk. I do not think it is possible to get tired of this healthy dish, so we make it quite often.
We love Indian Cuisine and I always wanted to introduce some of the curry dishes to my son, who does not eat too many spicy foods yet. I was very inspired by amazing Indian Cuisine and adapted this recipe for my family as a mild and tasty curry dish.
WHY I LIKE THIS RECIPE?
- This recipe is gluten-free. For those who follow gluten free diet it is so hard to find some varieties and options to indulge the food cravings. Good news is that lentils are naturally gluten-free.
- It is very easy to make. This recipe is a one pan dish. Not too much chopping or peeling required.
- This chicken and red lentil coconut curry is super healthy. It is dairy and gluten free, protein packed (both plant and animal). Lentils are rich with folate, iron and of course fiber.
- Very easy to make it a vegan recipe. To make this dish fully vegan omit chicken or substitute it to some tasty tofu.
CLEAN TIP: Use organic, good quality lentils. There is not a big difference in price, but quality is so much better. Non-organic lentils are often treated with synthetic pesticides and sprayed with chemicals.
- Red Lentils: 1 cup of red lentils. For this recipe I used split red lentils. I always sort and wash any legumes or grains to the rid of any dust and to make sure there is no rocks or other unknown objects. I like to soak my lentils at least for 1 hour in a cold water. It reduces the cooking time, makes them easier to digest and apparently increases the mineral absorption rate of the body. But soaking lentils is not required unlike beans.
- Filtered Water: 3 cups of water for 1 cup of lentils to cook the lentils or whatever the package instructions of your lentils suggests.
- Olive Oil: 1-2 tablespoon for cooking onions, garlic and ginger. You can use any other mild oil of your choice. Coconut oil is another great option for this recipe
- Onion: About half or the yellow onion. I always use yellow onion in this recipe.
- Garlic: 2 cloves of fresh garlic. Garlic is a must in this dish, it creates such a great flavor and aroma.
- Ginger: about one teaspoon of finely diced ginger. If you like gingerier taste add more.
- Curry: I used 1 teaspoon of organic mild curry powder. Of course, you can add more by taste.
- Salt: ¼ teaspoon for chicken and same amount for the lentils. This is enough in my opinion, but we always make lower sodium recipes at home, so if you prefer savory food add some more salt.
- Chicken Thighs: 1pound of boneless, skinless thighs. Thighs are juicier, not a low fat and are harder to overcook.
- Full Fat Coconut Milk: you will need ½ cup of canned full fat coconut milk to make this delicious chicken and red split lentil curry . Coconut milk is amazing in this recipe, it makes it so much creamier.
- Lemon Juice: ½ tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. I always add lemon juice to any recipe that has lentils. They just go so well together, and lemon of course adds that tangy sour taste that lentils miss.
- Fresh Cilantro: By taste, for garnish. Cilantro is optional but I love adding some of this chopped herb to my curry, it adds another flavor, plus extra vitamins.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN AND RED LENTIL CURRY:
- Measure one cup of red split lentils, sort and rinse them. I usually rinse them in the pot by filling it with cold water and gently massaging the lentils. Drain water using the strainer and repeat 3-4 times. Now add cold water enough to cover the dal and soak them for at least one hour. If you use whole lentils soak them at least 2 hours. Although soaking is not a requirement, it makes it easier to digest the legumes and reduces cooking time.
- After soaking the dal, rinse it one more time and place it in the pot. Add water, bring to boil and cook for 40-50 minutes on low heat until lentils are soft and tender. I usually cover the pot half way to prevent the foam running away and messing up my stove.
- While lentils are cooking let’s prepare the rest of ingredients. Peel and dice onion, garlic and ginger and set them aside separately. Cut the chicken thighs in bite size pieces and sprinkle them with ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- Preheat the deep sauté frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add chicken and cook on medium heat on all sides for 3-5 minutes. Do not worry if chicken is still not fully cooked, we will be simmering it with, lentils and coconut milk later to make it right. Set chicken aside in a clean bowl. Add the rest of olive oil, onions with ginger to the same pan and cook until onions become translucent, add garlic and curry powder. Keep cooking on medium heat stirring frequently until garlic and species release the aroma. Add chicken, cooked lentils, remaining salt, coconut milk. If there is still some water left in your lentils, add it as well, no need to drain. Cover the pan with the lid and simmer the curry on low for 10-15 minutes.
- Serve over basmati rice or with some naan bread.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT THE CURRY.
- After the curry is cooled down, transfer it to the glass (recommended) or plastic air tight container and store in the fridge for about 3 days.
- To reheat: simply scoop the needed amount of curry into the smaller pot and bring to simmer over low heat. Also, you can reheat it in the microwave using microwave safe dish
HOW TO SERVE THE CURRY:
- Serve this chicken and lentils curry over basmati rice or any other rice of your choice.
- I also tried to serve it over quinoa, and it tasted as great.
- And of course, with some Indian Naan bread.
IS LENTIL CURRY HEALTHY:
This chicken and lentil curry recipe is super healthy because it is made only with selected organic ingredients. Lentils are high in protein and fiber, rich in potassium, folate and iron . This curry is not too spicy so it can be introduced even to younger kids. Lentil curry is overall a very healthy meal when made from scratch.
VARIATIONS AND SUBSTITUTIONS:
- If you are looking to make vegan curry, use tofu instead of chicken or just omit chicken. Lentils by itself already are packed with plenty of protein.
- If you like spicy curry add some cayenne pepper to bring up the heat.
- Use broth instead of water to cook lentils for even more nutrients and flavor, just remember to adjust amount of salt accordingly when using already seasoned broth
Chicken and Red Lentil Curry
- 1 cup red split lentils
- 3 cup filtered water
- 2 tablespoon olive oil devided
- ½ onion
- 1 teaspoon diced ginger
- 2 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ½ cup coconut milk canned, full fat
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
- Rinse and soak lentils. In a medium saucepan, combine lentils and 3 cups of water water and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook lentils for 40-50 minutes or until soft and tender .
- Dice onion, ginger and garlic. Set garlic separately from onions. Cube chicken tights and sprinkle the meat with ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- Preheat the deep dish pan over medium heat, add olive oil. Cook chicken on all sided for about 5 minutes. Set aside in a bowl.
- Add remaining olive oil, onion and ginger to the same pot, cook for few minutes until translucent, now add curry powder and diced garlic, cook for a minute or two stirring occasionally until aroma released.
- Add the chicken, cooked lentils, remaining salt, coconut milk to the pan. Simmer covered for about 10-15 minutes stirring ocasionally. Add lemon juice, give it a little stir. Turn off the heat and enjoy!