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Coconut Red-Lentil Curry

['1 medium onion, finely chopped', '2 tablespoons vegetable oil', '1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger', '2 garlic cloves, finely chopped', '1 teaspoon ground cumin', '1/2 teaspoon ground coriander', '1 teaspoon turmeric', '1 teaspoon salt', '1 (2 1/2-inch) fresh jalapeño or serrano chile, finely chopped, including seeds', '2 cups water', '1 1/2 cups dried red lentils (10 oz)', '1 (13- to 14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk', '1 lb zucchini (2 medium), cut into 1/4-inch dice', '1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs', 'Accompaniment: white rice']

Cook onion in oil in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until edges are golden, about 6 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, and chile and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Stir in water, lentils, and coconut milk, then simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini and simmer, covered, until lentils and zucchini are tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and serve with cilantro sprigs scattered on top.

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