Lentil Coconut Curry and Rice – using what we already have in the pantry

There are a 1,001 ways to make a curry sauce. I feel like I have tried many with some successes and many failures. While our spice cabinet contains the ingredients to make a curry sauce (a very nonstandard Midwestern fair) I chose to go the premade grocery store route this time. Why? Ease. Beyond that the chestnuts and broth were the only other processed ingredients.

As I went to the store three weeks ago I had been hearing about other cities having issues with empty shelves, no paper products, etc. I saw no sign of this. Ironically, I even bought toilet as they were having a promotion and we were down to a handful of rolls. I questioned myself as it doubled my total which I had been trying to keep down. Then I chided myself, “You buy on sale ahead of time and save money that way; buy the toilet paper. Stick with your habit. Don’t be a cheapskate. There are reasons you shop this way.” Glad I listened to myself as the shelves were empty the next time I went.

Two weeks ago when I went shopping on a not normal day for me I began to see shelves emptier than normal. Even the banana rack was empty! I asked if the truck was late or there was a stike. The worker told me that it was due to people over the weekend buying ahead because of the Corona virus. I knew what I had been hearing in the news was now happening here. I stuck with my normal list, knowing the buying ahead in the weeks past would begin to pay off.

I had also been going through the bits of this and that in the freezer and pantry. On my list was a bottle of curry as I wanted to use up some of the ground beef in our freezer and carrots in the crisper which really needed to be eaten. The pantry contained about 2 lbs of black rice and 3 bags of instant rice meant for my husband’s lunches. On my list were more instant rice pouches as there was an Ibotta rebate I could use. This is when I found out that rice had suddenly become extremely popular. The shelves were about 90% empty. “Hmm. Now what?” I found the brand of instant rice I was looking for, but not the flavor my husband wanted. “I’ll check the international aisle.” What do you know, rice! A lot if it. Apparently the southern folks around here don’t think about Asian dishes too often. (That was very hard not to type, “Southern folk ’round here don’t do Asian food. 🙂 )

This past week I went to the store with a more flexible plan, still a list but also ideas for if those items were out of stock. I had also put together a meal plan using what we have, suplimenting with ingredients not typical here in hopes they would be in stock. Turns out that was a good plan.

An easy dish I had on my list was lentil curry and rice. Again I picked up a jar of premade sauce, this time coconut curry though I think I liked the regular red curry better. The rest of the ingredient I already had at home.


  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots or a handful of baby carrots, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, washed and unpeeled, diced
  • 1 can water chestnuts, sliced and cut in half
  • 1 cup or so of red lentils
  • chicken broth, enough to cover vegetables
  • 1 jar curry sauce
  • Add a few tablespoons of oil to a skillet. Heat.
  • Add diced vegetables to the pan. I went in order of the list, dicing then adding as I went.
  • Mix up vegetables and cook till onions begin to become translucent.
  • Add lentils. Mix.
  • Add broth till vegetables and lentils are covered. Cover with lid and simmer till potatoes and carrots are soft.
  • Add curry sauce. Mix and heat through.

Serve on top of rice.

While I used the vegetables listed above you really can use whatever you have on hand. If tomatoes were added I would have added them right before the sauce as they do not actually need cooking, only heating. Squash I would have added, diced or cubed, at the same point as the potatoes.