Chicken & Lentil Curry

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: August 24, 2020

Last Updated: February 22nd, 20240 Comments on Chicken & Lentil Curry

This Chicken & Lentil Curry is impossibly creamy and delicious. A silky, smooth aromatic sauce coats every morsel of juicy chicken. Get ready for a hearty, healthy dose of Indian flavour.

A bowl of lentil curry with a piece of naan bread

This is one of my most treasured recipes. Why? Because I just live for lentils and beans, in any shape or form, any time of the day or year.

Lentils help create a richness and a creamy texture to any dish, while imparting all that nutty, mellow goodness. When cooked Indian style, alongside juicy chicken, the flavours develop into spiced (not particularly spicy) marriage of fragrance a comfort food classic.

Using two types of lentils helps create a distinctive texture too. The moong dal breaks down quickly to form the luxuriously creamy texture, while the chana dal holds its shape and brings a bit of texture to the overall dish. Together they are a perfect harmony of texture and flavour.

A bowl of lentil curry with a spoon

What is Dal?

Dal means 'pulses' or 'lentils'. It's what we refer to as an Indian style dish made using dried lentils in some way, cooked until soft or broken down. In India, Dal comes in many varieties, with a mind-boggling array of preparations.

Many preparations are vegetarian or vegan as dal is an excellent form of protein and fibre. Try my Parippu Dal or Dal Palak (with Spinach) for healthy, hearty recipes where the meat is not required.

But lentils are often used alongside meats too; Dhansak curry uses goat or mutton with dal, Lahori Chicken is another favourite here, but again there are countless lentil recipes in Indian cuisine.

Why it works?

It's hearty and healthy - Lentils are a good source of plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which can aid digestion, reduce cholesterol levels, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, boost energy levels, and aid weight loss when consumed regularly as part of a healthy diet. This one pot recipe will fill you up and help you out!

The ingredients for a chicken lentil curry including chicken, two types of lentils, onion, whole spices, ground spices, garlic, chillies and coconut milk

Stuff You'll Need

Making my budget friendly chicken & lentil curry doesn't feature anything you can't easily find at the supermarket. Here are the key ingredients that make the magic happen.

  • Chicken thighs - I always use thighs for curries. They stay juicy and don't dry out. Breast meat can easily dry out so I avoid.
  • Lentils - I use a combination of moong dal and chana dal. The moong dal disintegrates to create the creaminess, while the chana dal retains a little texture - both help give a wonderful ochre hue to the curry.
  • Onion & garlic add a backbone to the sauce
  • Spices - a modest use of spices as far as Indian curries go with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, peppercorns, bay leaf, cinnamon, Kashmiri chillies, turmeric and chilli powder.
  • Coconut milk - this is the final ingredient that brings its luxurious creamy texture to the final sauce.

Step by Step

My Chicken & Lentil Curry is really simple to put together. Here's the key stages to the process.

  1. Step 1 - Fry the whole spices in a little oil to release flavour and season the oil.
  2. Step 2 - Add the onion and gently fry everything until they're nice and soft.
  3. Step 3 - Add the garlic and fry briefly
  4. Step 4 - Add the chicken pieces and ground spices and some salt and stir well to combine everything.
  5. Step 5 - Rinse the dal and then add it along with the coconut milk. Add a little water and stir to combine. Bring it to a simmer then reduce the heat.
  6. Step 6 - Simmer gently for 45 minutes until the chana dal is soft but still with a little bite.
Frying whole spices and dried chillies in oil in a pan with a wooden spoon.
Bring onion in whole spices in a pan with a wooden spoon
Adding garlic to fried onion and spices
Adding chicken to spiced onion
Adding two types of lentils and coconut milk to spiced chicken for a chicken and lentil curry
A pan of gently simmering chicken and lentil curry

Pro Tips

  • Alternative dal - To replace the moong dal, you can use 'toor dal', 'masoor dal' or split 'urad dal' instead. They break down to give a similar creamy texture.
  • What cut of chicken? - Chicken thighs are king when it comes to curry. You can also use drumsticks. Breast tends to dry out and become tough, so I avoid this cut when making curries.
  • Want healthier? - To make an even healthier curry, you can replace the coconut milk with all water. The broken down lentils still makes a luxurious creamy texture.

Serving Suggestions

This dal curry is great served with Indian breads like chapati, roti, paratha and naan. It is also super delicious served over fluffy basmati rice. I keep it simple with garnishes for this curry and often have none at all, but a few tangy tomatoes and a light sprinkle of cilantro does the trick.


  • Fridge - keep in the fridge for up to a week in airtight containers.
  • Freezer - this dal curry keeps splendidly in the freezer for 3+ months. Store in airtight containers. You might also want to add a little water when reheating as the lentils will continue to soak up any liquid. Reheat until piping hot either from frozen in the microwave or defrosted in the microwave or stove top.
A bowl of lentil curry garnished with some cherry tomatoes and a little cilantro

Ready to get cooking?

So, if you love lentils, like I do, then you'll absolutely need to create this curry yourself at home - an added bonus it freezes extremely well, so why not make a double portion and treat yourself for the coming weeks and months with ready-to-go meal-prep portions?!

It's truly a delicious curry to have on your regular curry roster (yes, I have a curry roster!). Hope you enjoy!

A bowl of lentil curry
A bowl of Kofta (meatball) curry drizzled with yoghurt and garnished with chopped cilantro

The Best Curry Recipes in the Cook Eat World.

Discover all my favourite curries from around Asia. Here are my Best Curry Recipes in the Cook Eat World.

Any Questions? (FAQ)

Have a question about chicken and lentils? Let me know in the comments.

Can we eat chicken and dal together?

Yes, absolutely. There are countless Indian recipes that feature chicken with pulses and lentils. The lentils work excellently together with poultry to give a rich, hearty and filling dishes.

How many calories are in chicken and lentil curry?

For this recipe there are around 680 calories per serve. And the lentils will aid in digestion along with other amazing health benefits.

Is chicken and lentils healthy?

Yes, eaten as part of a balanced diet, this curry is a great source of nutrition. Lentils are a nutrient-dense legume packed with fiber, protein, iron, and folate. They promote digestive health, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer.

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A bowl of lentil curry with a spoon and piece of naan bread

Chicken & Lentil Curry

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5 from 1 vote
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Recipe by Lee
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 682

Video Recipe



  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a moderate heat until hot. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, chillies, peppercorns, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Let them sizzle for a minute until they begin to pop and jump around the pan.
  • Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Add the garlic and fry for a further 1 minute. Add the turmeric and chilli powders and stir briefly before adding the chicken. Stir fry for 4-5 minutes until the chicken is lightly fried and the pan hot again.
  • Add the lentils and then pour in the coconut milk. Fill the can and pour in two more can-fulls of water (28oz/800ml). Season with salt.
    Let this come to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low and let it bubble, partially covered with a lid for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and gently simmer, uncovered for 25 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid sticking.
  • The moong dal will break up completely to create a rich, creamy sauce. The chana dal should be intact but soft.
  • Garnish with whatever you like - I like a simple garnish of fresh chopped tomato and sometimes a little cilantro. Serve with plenty of fluffy basmati rice or Indian breads.


Calories: 682kcal (34%) | Carbohydrates: 54g (18%) | Protein: 29g (58%) | Fat: 42g (65%) | Saturated Fat: 29g (181%) | Cholesterol: 55mg (18%) | Sodium: 661mg (29%) | Potassium: 397mg (11%) | Fiber: 12g (50%) | Sugar: 3g (3%) | Vitamin A: 377IU (8%) | Vitamin C: 4mg (5%) | Calcium: 107mg (11%) | Iron: 7mg (39%)
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