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Creamy Peanut Butter and Lentil Curry

By far the most popular recipes on my site are the curries. There’s the original Chickpea Curry, the Coconut and Sweet Potato Curry, the Dal Bhat, and the Dal Makhani. Adding to that list is this incredible, creamy curry made with peanut butter and lentils. It’s kind of “region independent” in the sense that it draws influence from Indian curries, African dishes, and maybe even some Thai inspiration as well.

This Peanut Butter Curry is every bit as delicious as the others, with lots of similar flavors, but it’s also totally different. The peanut comes through strongly, but balances extremely well with the Indian spices and the meaty lentils. Spoon over jasmine rice for the perfect blend between classic chickpea curry, creamy Dal Makhani, and an African peanut stew.

peanutbuttercurry_overhead

Makes: 4 large servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/2+ teaspoon each spice: cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves
  • 2 15 oz cans (or fresh) lentils
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • Green onions, for garnish
  • Limes, for garnish
  • Jasmine rice, for serving

Step One

In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat and add in a chopped yellow onion, 3 cloves of minced garlic, and about a teaspoon of grated ginger. Allow to soften for 3-5 minutes. Then, add in half a teaspoon of salt plus half a teaspoon of each spice (cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves) right onto the onions โ€“ which is essential to developing great curry flavors. Allow to sautรฉ for another 2-3 minutes.

Step Two

Next, add in 2 cans of brown or black lentils, rinsed and drained (or the equivalent of fresh lentils), 1/4 cup tomato paste, and 1 chopped red bell pepper. Stir well and give these another 2-3 minutes to simmer.

Also at this point, begin cooking the jasmine rice according to package instructions.

Step Three

When the lentils and tomato paste are incorporated, add 1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky both work fine) and 2 cups vegetable broth into the mix and stir well until the peanut butter is evenly dissolved. Give the curry at least another 25 minutes for all the flavors to stew together (35 would be ideal). Before finishing, give it a taste and feel free to boost the spices or salt as needed.

Step Four

When the curry is done, stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and serve over the jasmine rice. Garnish with sliced green onions, a little more chopped cilantro, and lime wedges. Store in the fridge for a day or two (the leftovers are even better).

peanutbuttercurry

36 Comments

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  1. This sounds amazing! I love the righteous balance of easy to make + healthy + bold flavors. Also, I wanted to come here to compliment you on the photos – I find it so difficult to photograph lentils but you’ve really brought them to life here and balanced the colors beautifully.

    • Thank you, Shannon! ๐Ÿ™‚ Ah, I know what you mean. Lentils are so difficult to make photogenic and appetizing. You’re right that balancing the colors helps, as does adding other things like some garnishes and rice so it’s not just LENTILS ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I will definitely try this. We love your curries. Do you think it makes a difference to use fresh lentils? Seems like it might be worth the trouble. How many cups would you say two 15 oz cans is equivalent to?

    • Hi Melynda! Well I used canned lentils and I don’t think it was necessarily worse than fresh lentils. But if you are using fresh, hmm, probably about 2.5 cups cooked? You can kind of freestyle the amounts until you get something that looks/tastes right ๐Ÿ™‚

      • All cans I have checked of any beans are 1.5 cups per can so two cans should be 3 cups. ๐Ÿ™‚

        And yes this looks like a winner!

    • Thanks for adding the clarification here! It drives me nuts when non-South Asian/Indian/Pakistani folks say “curry” for dish names, and also to describe “curry powder.” It’s actually a measure of ignorance when referring to the spices and Indian dishes, be they treated as inspirations or when actually making the dish in question.

    • Hmm! I’m really not sure. If it’s super creamy you might be able to get by but obviously it would have an almond taste instead of peanut and I’m not sure how that would do… feel free to try it out and let us know ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Just sitting in my hospital room waiting for hubby to bring me home and I saw this post. Definitely stopping by the store soon for ingredients! I told them I am vegan and they keep sending chicken broth and jello. Needless to say I’m starving and now drooling over this post.
    PS I have made your spaghetti piccata many times and absolutely love it!

    • Oh, so sorry about the chicken broth and jello ๐Ÿ™ that sounds awful. I hope you’re doing well, Laura, and I hope you like the curry!

  4. Hey Andrew, this curry looks so delicious! The peanut butter addition is what really captured my attention. I really feel peanuts and peanut butter are underused, as they impart such fabulous flavor as well as more nutrition. Especially in vegan cooking! The only thing I may do differently is add some of my wonderful home grown Thai hot peppers for a little heat. My mouth is literally watering at just at the thought of this dish!.

    • Totally agree! Peanuts are an amazing ingredient. Ohh, I grew thai chilis last year and there was at least 10 million of them on my one plant, it was crazy! That would be a great addition. Thank you, Nancy!

  5. I’ve never seen canned lentils so I’m confused if I’m using lentils that are already cooked or do they cook in the recipe? I have dried lentils so should I cook them ahead of time ?

  6. so i’m in the middle of making this and i am reading 1 1/2 tsp for each spice. even cayenne? that seems a lot to me but maybe i’m just not used to hot curry. i’m going to start with 1/4 tsp and see how it goes. any advice / clarification? thanks for the recipe.

  7. luckily i hadn’t added the spices yet! they are mixed together in a bowl so i’ll just estimate for 1/2 tsp each. maybe writing 1/2 teaspoon each (more if needed) would be clearer. can’t wait to try it.

  8. Absolutely delicious! My partner and I have made it four times already. Very flavourful and incredibly satisfying. Thanks for the terrific recipe – keep them coming ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Very interesting about the “curry” name:) I go to an Indian restaurant quite often for lunch and he (the indian guy) always recommends his chicken curry lol I guess he knows how us Americans tick! It’s embarrassing how I always thought it did mean a gravy type dish.

  10. Yum Yum Yum the best curry ever! Did not have enough lentils so used some red kidney beans as well. Apart from that I followed the recipe exactly, so delicious and fun to make. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

    • Awesome! I like the idea of using red kidney beans (I use them in my Dal Makhani) and they work really well. I bet they’re great here too.

  11. I made this for my family last night. Best curry I’ve ever had! Next on my list is the sweet potato and coconut recipe on your site. Yummmmmm

  12. Andrew, I made this for friends the other night and we all loved it!! That the recipe is quick and simple makes this curry perfect for entertaining during the week. Thanks for another great meal.

  13. I’m making this tonight and I’m so excited! How do you think this would taste with powdered peanut butter? I was thinking of using my PB Fit but wasn’t sure if I should mix it with water, giving it the consistency of actual peanut butter, or just throw in half a cup of the powder itself.

    Thanks!

  14. Mine came out way too thick. I added almost double the stock in the recipe and it was still more like the consistency of chili than curry. I’m guessing it has to do with the lentils. I used dried/cooked instead of canned. I wonder how much liquid comes along with the canned lentils?

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