Coconut Lentil Curry, Sri Lankan Style. Recipe and Food Photography by Dharsika Finnemore, The Bellephant

Sri Lankan Coconut Lentil Curry

This Coconut Lentil Curry is something my mum cooked at least once a week growing up. (She still does). It’s a staple curry among any Sri-Lankan household – probably down to it being so yummy and easy to do. This is the recipe my mum has been cooking for for years and years. However, I’d like to add that the ground cumin my new addition to it (only one extra ingredient I know). I mean, this curry has pleased for so long it didn’t need much changing.

Traditionally, you’d serve this Coconut Lentil Curry with at least two or more dishes such as a Aubergine Curry or Okra Curry. This would be as well as your rice or roti. Often though, I’ll just eat a whole bowl of it like soup with poppadoms and lime pickle. (That is if I’m lucky enough to have them in my cupboard.)

If you fancy adding veggies to this, just chop them up and throw them in to cook with the lentils at the very start. Have no coconut cream? You can add milk instead (just add less so it doesn’t get too watery).

This recipe is perfect for 4 people if you’re eating a bowl of on its own. If you’re serving it with other dishes it’s perfect for 6-8 people.

Coconut Lentil Curry, Sri-Lankan Style

Makes: 4-8

Coconut Lentil Curry, Sri-Lankan Style


  • 450g red split lentils
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 250ml coconut cream
  • 2tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp jeera seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • To serve: fresh coriander


  1. Wash and drain the lentils a few times (until the water isn't cloudy from the starch).
  2. Add 1 litre of boiling water in to a saucepan along with the washed lentils, turmeric, salt and ground cumin.
  3. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the lentils are softened. Stir in the coconut cream and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in another pan. Fry the mustard, cumin and jeera seeds for about 30 seconds then throw in the onions, garlic and chillies. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the onions and garlic are browned. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
  5. Stir the onion and spice mix through the lentils or alternatively serve the lentils topped with it.

Optional: Garnish with chopped fresh coriander.

Coconut Lentil Curry, Sri Lankan Style. Recipe and Food Photography by Dharsika Finnemore, The Bellephant


  1. Thanks so much for the recipe, been obsessed with Sri Lankan curries since visiting in April 🙂 Is this recipe suitable for freezing? Xx

  2. This soup looks so AMAZING! Pinning to make ASAP!

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