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Kalyn's Kitchen

Curried Rice and Red Lentils

Curried Rice and Red Lentils is a delicious side dish or a meatless main dish, and if you use vegetable stock this can easily be vegan. Use Side Dishes to find more recipes like this one!

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Curried Rice and Red Lentils found on KalynsKitchen.com

This dish combining Curried Rice and Red Lentils is an old favorite that I recently I made with Jake, and we both loved how the simple combination of ingredients creates so much flavor in this recipe.  I don’t know that I was thinking about Meatless Monday when we decided to make this, but since the combination of lentils (or beans) and rice are famous in vegetarian cooking for the way they create a complete protein, it really is a recipe that’s perfect for meatless meals.

And I’m happy I have new photos to update the post and stick to my pledge to try to have a meatless recipe on the blog every Monday, since I ended up spending the weekend at the house of my sister Valerie (Jake’s mom) and just got home a few hours ago.

This was one of those recipes I loved from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World, and when Jake and I cooked it the only change we made was to use stock to cook the lentil-rice combination instead of water.  We used chicken stock, but using vegetarian stock would make this vegan, and it’s such a healthful and satisfying combination that we both agreed didn’t need the butter Mark Bittman stirred in at the end.

Of course I liked the garnish of cilantro, but  if you’re not a cilantro fan I think some sliced green onions or parsley would be nice.  There are many types of lentils, but it’s important to use red lentils in this dish, so they’ll be done in the 20 minutes it takes for the rice to cook. Here is a good reference about various types of lentils. Hope you enjoy trying this easy recipe that’s loaded with flavor!

Curried Rice and Red Lentils found on KalynsKitchen.com

Heat the oil in a heavy flat pan with a tight-fitting lid; then cook the onions until they’re starting to get nicely browned on the edges. (This browning adds a lot of flavor, so don’t rush it.) Then add the curry powder and saute it for 1-2 minutes, until it’s very fragrant. Add the water or stock and let it come to a boil; then stir in the rice and red lentils.  Bring it back to a boil, then reduce the heat to the barest possible simmer and let cook covered for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes check to see if rice and lentils are done and all the water is absorbed.  Ours was completely perfect, but if needed cook uncovered for a few minutes more.  Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Make it a Meal:

For a meatless meal, I would love this with Amazing Asian Green Salad or Tomato, Cucumber, and Radish Salad with Yogurt-Tahini Dressing on the side.

More Tasty Ideas with Red Lentils:

Mexican Red Lentil Stew with Lime and Cilantro from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Spicy Red Lentil and Tomato Soup from Andrea Meyers
Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Seven Red Lentil Soup Recipes from Soup Chick
Indian-Style Red Lentils with Ginger from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Black Quinoa and Red Lentil Salad with Parsley from Healthy Green Kitchen

Curried Rice and Red Lentils

Curried Rice and Red Lentils is a delicious side dish or a meatless main dish, and if you use vegetable stock this can easily be vegan.


  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 T curry powder (I used 2 1/2 tsp. Penzeys sweet curry and 1/2 tsp. Penzey’s hot curry)
  • 3/4 cup red lentils (also called dal or pulses)
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 3 cups water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1-2 T melted butter (optional, we did not use any butter when we made this with stock, but I’d add a little if it was made with water)
  • chopped parsley or cilantro, for garnish (optional)


  1. Put the oil in a large, heavy pan with a tight lid and heat for one minute.
  2. Add onion and saute 3-5 minutes, until starting to brown on the edges.
  3. Add curry powder and saute 1 minute, then add water and bring to a boil.
  4. Add lentils and rice, bring back to a boil, then lower heat to a steady simmer and cover.
  5. Cook 20 minutes, or until rice is done and lentils are tender. (Bittman says if the liquid is not all absorbed, boil off the excess, but after 20 minutes all my water had been absorbed.)
  6. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the melted butter just before serving, if using.
  7. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro if desired.
  8. I haven’t tried freezing it, but my prediction would be that this freezes well.


I used Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice (affiliate link) which has the lowest Glycemic Index of any white rice.

I used 2 1/2 tsp. Penzeys sweet curry and 1/2 tsp. Penzey’s hot curry.

Recipe adapted from The Best Recipes in the World (affiliate link) by Mark Bittman.

All images and text ©

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Curried Rice and Red Lentils would be suitable for phase two or three of The South Beach Diet, if you use Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice as mentioned above. Lentils are considered a “good carb” for South Beach, but this would be too high in carbs for a low-carb diet plan.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Nutritional Information?
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    44 Comments on “Curried Rice and Red Lentils”

  1. i just made this and it was so delicious! i used brown rice instead of white and i realized the cooking times and water amounts would be different as i was boiling the water. i just put in the rice first and let them cook a little bit, then the lentils. i had to add quite a bit more water, though. but it was tasty! Thank you.

  2. Trying this with a can of coconut milk, a splash of wine and some water as the liquid component. I'll let you know how it works out.

  3. Kristin, so glad you enjoyed it. And good to know it will work with substitutions too.

  4. This was delicious! I made it for dinner tonight. So incredibly easy. I used French lentils, which stayed a little firmer, but worked just fine in the dish. I also used jasmine rice (what I had on hand). I would definitely try this again with a basmati rice, too. Will definitely stay on my "what to make for dinner" list!

  5. Paz, hope you enjoy it!

  6. very nice. i'm going to try it.

  7. Curt and Barbra, we loved it!

  8. I love curried rice but usually do it as fried rice. I like the risotto style of this.

  9. I'm betting the red lentils are excellent with the curried rice!

  10. Terry Ann, there is some discussion about that in an earlier comment. Brown rice takes longer to cook, so you'd either have to partly cook the rice before you add the lentils or use brown lentils, which take longer to cook than the red ones.

  11. This looks wonderful and I'm sure that the flavors are great! Do you think it could be made using brown rice?

  12. Barb, so glad they liked it!

  13. Kalyn, I made this dish tonight. I used butter and served it with yogurt and a chilli sauce. My family loved it.

  14. Liz, glad to hear they liked it, even if it wasn't quite a colorful! Brown lentils will always take longer, and you're right that if they are old they will take even longer. But good to know they were good in this recipe.

    Alphana, thanks! Glad you like the blog.

  15. Beautiful post with an awesome recipe……Glad to have found you.

  16. Kalyn –
    I made this last night with brown lentils. Mine may have been old and extra dry, so additional liquid was necessary. I also used a dark veggie stock, so it didn't turn out the same brilliant yellow color, but my family ate it and in my book that's a win! Thank you for introducing this to a plain meat-and-potato family.

  17. Emily I did use split lentils. The first time Jake and I cooked this we weren't happy with how done the lentils were, so we made it again and kept the heat at the lowest possible simmer. I'd guess the heat is too high if your lentils were too done. If your stove won't go any lower, I'd start to check after 15 minutes.

  18. How did you keep your lentils so distinct? Mine completely disintegrated in 20 minutes, and the finished dish looks like a weird, lumpy risotto. It's still delicious, but I was wondering if I did something wrong. I followed the instructions by the book. I used split red lentils (which is the only way I've ever seen them sold in my area). Did you use whole ones? Just curious. Thanks for the great dish! Even if I can't get my lentils to stay whole, this recipe is a keeper!

  19. I do think the dish would taste good with brown rice and brown lentils, or you could cook the brown rice for a while before you added the red lentils, which is what I'd do.

  20. Could you make this with brown rice if you switched the red lentils for something longer cooking?