One-pot prawn & lentil curry

Freeze the dhal base of this curry for busy weeknights. It’s cheap, easy and really versatile – simply defrost and add prawns, veg or meat

  • Prep:30 mins
    Cook:1 hrs 15 mins
  • Serves 4
  • Easy

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 267
  • fat 11g
  • saturates 1g
  • carbs 25g
  • sugars 0g
  • fibre 6g
  • protein 15g
  • salt 1.3g


  • 100g dried red lentils
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped or grated
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped or grated
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder (we used Kashmiri chilli powder)
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste or lemon juice (optional)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes or passata
  • 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tbsp garam marsala
  • 200g raw or cooked prawns (we used tiger prawns)
  • green chillies, coriander and pickled red onions (see tips), to serve


Leave the base sauce to cool completely, then tip into a freezerproof container, cover and freeze. The recipe makes four portions, so you can divide the sauce into four smaller containers if you like. Clearly label and date the sauce containers.
Leave at room temperature for about 8 hours. Or to defrost more quickly, tip the frozen block of sauce into a saucepan with a lid. Cover with 200ml boiling water from the kettle, then cover with the lid and cook over a low heat for 30 mins until defrosted. Continue to reheat, uncovered, until piping hot, during which time the added water will evaporate.
Once defrosted using the first method above, reheat in a covered pan for 15 mins over a medium heat, stirring every now and again.
To make the base sauce, use vegan vegetable stock in step 2. You then have plenty of options for adding other vegetables instead of the prawns. We like to add bite-sized chunks of roasted sweet potatoes or squash in step 4. Cook for 8-10 mins, then wilt handfuls of baby leaf spinach through at the end.
You can swap the prawns for two chopped chicken breasts. Simmer these in the sauce for 8-10 mins in step 4 until cooked through.
Finely slice 1 red onion and season with salt, then toss with 1 tsp cumin seeds, the juice of ½ lemon and 1 sliced green chilli (optional). Leave for 5 mins to soften, then serve.


  1. Rinse the lentils a few times, then tip into a bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp oil in a shallow casserole or sauté pan, and cook the onion with a pinch of salt for 10 mins until it starts to turn golden. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli powder, cumin seeds and ground coriander, and cook for 3 mins until the mixture is sticky. Stir in the tomato purée and tamarind, if using, followed by the chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 8-10 mins until you have a thick paste.

  2. Rinse the soaked lentils again until the water runs clear, then drain. Stir the lentils into the tomato base, then tip in 600ml water (use some to swill out the tomato can) and the stock cube. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 50 mins-1 hr, topping up with more water if needed, until the lentils are soft and have started to cook down into the sauce. Stir through the garam masala. Can now be left to cool completely, then chilled for up to three days or frozen for up to six months (see below).

  3. To cook the prawns, reheat the chilled or defrosted frozen sauce in a saucepan until simmering (see below), then tip in the prawns and cook for 5 mins. Season with salt to taste, then drizzle with the rest of the oil and stir briefly. Slice the green chillies and sprinkle these over with a few coriander leaves, then scatter with pickled onions (see recipe below) to serve.

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