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Curried Rice Pilaf with Red Lentils - A zesty, flavorful side dish or meatless meal. Easy to make and super delicious!

As adventurous an eater as my husband Jack is – there are still some foods that he pretty much avoids. Foods flavored with curry are not his favorite – but I love it! So I’m bound and determined to change his mind with delicious recipes like today’s Curried Rice Pilaf with Red Lentils!

The flavor in this hearty rice and lentil dish comes primarily from Thai red curry paste – a creamy, spicy paste that blends very nicely into savory recipes. Garam masala – a blend of spices using frequently in Indian cuisine – is also added plus fresh garlic, ginger, onions and cilantro.

Curried Rice Pilaf with Red Lentils - A zesty, flavorful side dish or meatless meal. Easy to make and super delicious!

Yes – that sounds like quite a mix of flavors! But these ingredients are all mixed together in a sauce made with diced fresh tomatoes and coconut milk which adds flavor but also mellows the spices and wonderfully marries all of the flavors together.

This Curried Rice Pilaf with Red Lentils is a delicious and hearty meatless meal served with naan or pita bread. But it can also be served as a side dish to just about any grilled meat – adding bold and exotic flavors to your meal.

And yes – if case you were wondering – my husband Jack loves this Curried Rice Pilaf with Red Lentils! 🙂

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Curried Rice Pilaf With Red Lentils

  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings


Note: The salt should NOT be added until the end. If it is added before the lentils are cooked, they will be tough.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 1 cup uncooked red lentils
  • 1½ cup fresh diced tomatoes
  • 1½ teaspoons Garam Masala
  • 2 tablespoons Thai Red Curry Paste
  • ¼ cup diced fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup canned coconut milk
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Few grinds freshly cracked black pepper


  1. In a medium sauce pan with a tight fitting lid, heat oil over medium high heat.
  2. Add onion, garlic and ginger and sauté for three minutes.
  3. Add dry rice and dry lentils and sauté for two minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add fresh tomato, garam masala and curry paste and stir and cook for one minute.
  5. Add cilantro, coconut milk and water and raise heat to high.
  6. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to low.
  7. Cook covered for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper, stir and let sit covered for five minutes.
  9. Serve with additional chopped cilantro.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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Curried Rice Pilaf with Red Lentils - A zesty, flavorful side dish or meatless meal. Easy to make and super delicious!

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  • Sarah wrote:

    Hi and thanks for a good recipe! I made this last night, using Thai red curry paste from our Asian market, and the dish was fiery hot. I still liked it because I love spicy things, but my family couldn’t eat it. Just a warning to otheres. I was wondering if you have found that Americanized Thai products are milder than ones made in Thailand?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Sarah – It’s entirely possible. We used the Thai Kitchen brand found at most US supermarkets – I suspect the curry paste from your local Asian market was spicier.

  • Becki wrote:

    I can’t believe he doesn’t like curry! It is one of my favorite flavors – I love anything with some spice. This sounds like a great side!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Becki! (I’m doing my best to convert him!) 🙂

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