lentil and potato in a cast iron pot with coriander on top

Van Life Meals: Easy Potato and Lentil Curry

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If you are familiar with our other van life recipes, you know that quick, healthy, and cheap meals are very important to us (especially during the week). Our healthy, hearty, and simple potato and lentil curry is a week-night go-to because it hits all these criteria and it’s delicious. It’s made from cheap and healthy ingredients we always have on hand, it’s easy to prep and cook, and it’s hard to stuff up!

The ingredients in this dish are perfect for any van life kitchen and things we almost always have with us. Potatoes and lentils both store easily and can be used in a variety of different ways. Combine them with some other common ingredients like onions, tomatoes, spices, and herbs to create a fragrant and nourishing curry.

Easy to prep, we allow our curry to simmer for at least forty minutes to develop flavor and create a rich creamy consistency from the lentils and potatoes.

Inspired by an Ethiopian potato curry, we adapted this van life meal to work in the van with minimal ingredients or fuss. We have included all the spices for a full-flavored curry, but you can get by with just the essentials – cumin, paprika, and turmeric.

Healthy and Hearty Potato and Lentil Curry
Potato and Lentil Curry a Van Life Recipe
  • Serving Size: 6
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cooking Time: 45 min

Ingredients for a Healthy, Hearty, Easy Potato and Lentil Curry Recipe

  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsps of ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 chili, finely sliced (remove the seeds if you want to reduce heat)
  • 2 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground allspice
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large sweet potato, chopped in one-inch cubes
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, chopped in one-inch cubes
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • handful of chopped cilantro (coriander) leaves and stalks

nb. You can get by without every single spice in this recipe. It works well with turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper and paprika.

For serving:

  • Rice
  • Yogurt
  • Cilantro


Step 1:

Fry 1 small diced onion, 2 tbsp of ginger, 4 cloves of garlic and 1 finely sliced chili into a medium-sized pan. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Step 2:

Tip in all the spices – 2 tsp of ground turmeric, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp of ground cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom pods, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, pinch ground nutmeg, pinch ground allspice and stir to coat onion. Stir while frying the mixture for 1 minute.

Step 3:

Add the 1 cup chopped tomatoes and stir for about 2 or 3 minutes.

Step 4:

Add 1 large sweet potato chopped in one-inch cubes, 2 medium russet potatoes chopped in one-inch cubes, 1 cup of red lentils, and 2 cups of water. Stir to combine, cover pot and turn down the heat.

Simmer for at least 40 minutes until the lentils and potatoes have softened. Check the curry regularly to make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add more water if necessary.

While the curry is simmering put on some rice.

Step 5:

Once the lentils and potatoes have softened, remove from heat. Season with salt to taste and add a handful of chopped cilantro leaves and stalks. Stir the curry and serve over rice.

Top with a dollop of plain yogurt and garnish with cilantro.

This recipe makes enough for 6 meals with rice and works well as leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.


Looking for more for other great van life meal ideas? Check out these other great van recipes:


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