Shiyamalee Somaweera’s Red Lentil Curry

As a gift to our Melbourne friends, we’re thrilled to be sharing a series of recipes from the latest book from Broadsheet. Home Made is a love letter to Melbourne’s food scene, featuring recipes, stories and home cooking advice from the city’s favourite foodies.

This red lentil curry recipe comes from Shiyamalee Somaweera, an integral part of the team behind family-run Sri Lankan restaurant Citrus.

Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 25–30 minutes
Serves 6–8


120ml vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
10 fresh curry leaves
1 pandan leaf frozen is fine if you
can’t find fresh
1⁄2 cinnamon quill
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 brown onion finely diced
1 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp curry powder preferably
Sri Lankan
2 tsp sweet paprika
500g red lentils rinsed and drained
400ml can coconut milk
Sea salt to taste


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Once the oil is shimmering, add the mustard seeds and cook for 1 minute.

Add the cumin seeds, curry leaves, pandan leaf and cinnamon quill and cook for 1 minute until aromatic, then add the garlic, onion and turmeric and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2–3 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the chilli flakes, curry powder, paprika, lentils and 1.5L of water, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated.

I taste a dab of the dry spices from the palm of my hand before they go in the pan. I don’t use a spoon, as it alters the flavour.

Add the coconut milk, then simmer for a further 8–12 minutes, until the lentils are tender and the curry has a creamy texture.

Add salt to taste, then remove from the heat and serve immediately.


This recipe is an extract from Home Made by Broadsheet, Published by Plum, RRP $49.99, Photography by Mark Roper

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