lentils in coconut milk from the treasures of Northeast of Brasil

In this recipe, French green lentils will cook in a coconut milk sauce without curry. It is a truly authentic flavour from Northeast of Brazil passed down through generations of my family.

What are French lentils?

French lentils are small and dark green lentils which hold their shape really well when you cook them. These lentils are also known in France as lentilles du Puy.

What is original in lentils in coconut milk?

First, it does not require curry.

Second, you will pre cook lentils and then will finish cooking in a vegetable sauce with coconut milk. In this sauce, you’ll use tomatoes, green pepper, onions and garlic. Lots of cilantro integrate the sauce in the end of the cooking process giving it a fresh and aromatic taste.

These lentils harmonizes very well with easy coconut milk rice and fish, but it can be a meal in itself. Everything cooked in coconut milk may sound too much, but home cooks use a lighter coconut milk for rice, for example, and a stronger one to prepare fish and beans/lentils related dishes. This is the secret to not add too much coconut milk.

In our local tradition, we use small brown beans. However, brown beans are hard to find in the North of the world, so French green lentils are the perfect substitute.

Lentils cooked in coconut milk sauce.


  • 3 Tomatoes medium size, 1 green pepper, 1 onion, 1 clove of minced garlic and two sprigs of cilantro.
  • One table spoon of olive oil.
  • 1 cup dark green lentils.
  • 1 can of coconut milk.
  • Salt and pepper.


  • Cook lentils approximately half-way through. In a 4-quart saucepan, put the lentils and 3 cups water to boil over medium-high heat and reduce to a simmer until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape for 20 minutes. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 6-8 minutes.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and garlic and simmer gently for 3-4 minutes. Add coconut milk and simmer 2 minutes more.
  • Add lentils and let it finish cooking in the sauce simmering for 7-8 minutes. The mixture may spatter so make sure it’s always on low heat. When it is done, add the cilantro, blending gently and let the mixture rest for 5 minutes.
  • Pour the lentil mixture carefully into a blender and puree it until your desired texture.
  • Serve with coconut rice or any other rice you prefer.

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