Red Lentils with Coconut Milk - Sri Lankan Parippu



It's December already. The end before new beginnings. The weather is very pleasant and I'm loving most of it. The mornings are cold and it's hard to get the kids up from their cozy beds. Afternoons are bit warmer,though. But the warmth doesn't come alone,it brings the cold breeze along with it. And you wish you could be that little girl again,playing outside until you're tired.

In the evenings,we go for walks in the neighborhood, my husband joining us sometimes. I just love these little excursions with all three boys. Having Shawarma's in the park,savoring every bite of lightly spiced meat and sauce while the cold breeze hits your face,watching the kids run around and chit-chatting with my husband. I couldn't be any happier.

Back in Sri Lanka,when it comes to meal times,seeing the piping hot bowl of tempered Parippu (Red lentils/Dhal) makes most people happy. It's a staple in our country. It's a must when growing up. I have seen a many a kid's faces wither away when they don't see Parippu on their plate of Rice and Curry. My cousins refused to eat their food. Period. 

Each family or community has it's own recipe for making Parippu. The key ingredients remain the same,red lentil and coconut milk. Some prefer it thin almost like a soupy consistency and some including me like it a bit thick. Tempering enhances the taste of the dish,though I hardly do it nowadays. 

It's paired with rice,a meat or fish curry and a veggie dish,some fried pappadam's (lentil crisps) and coconut sambal on the side. It makes a great breakfast or dinner dish when paired with toasted bread. Yum ! 
Me and hubby still love the toasted sandwiches with the Parippu filling we used to take to school those days and we make it at home now for the kids.

If there's one dish that is truly Sri Lankan,loved and eaten by all,it would be the Parippu.

Here's how we make it at home.


3/4 cup red lentils,soaked for about 10 minutes and drained
1 1/2 cups water

1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/4 tsp chilli powder (Increase for spiciness)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 onion sliced
1 green chilli sliced
few curry leaves

1/2 cup coconut milk
salt to taste

1 tbsp oil
mustard seeds
curry leaves
2 to 3 dried whole red chilies
In a cooking vessel,add the soaked and drained lentils and water.
To the same pot, add ginger garlic paste,chili and turmeric powders,cinnamon,fenugreek and cumin seeds,onion,green chili and curry leaves.
Bring it to a boil, let it cook till the lentils are done and most of the water evaporates.Add salt and let it cook for another few minutes.
Lightly crush the lentil mix from the back of the spoon.
Add the coconut milk and mix till it incorporates well. Check seasoning. Let it simmer for 5 more minutes.

You can adjust the consistency of the curry according your preference. Simmer for a few more minutes to make it thick. Add more water or thin coconut milk to water it down.

For tempering,heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When it splutters,add the curry leaves and red chilies.
When it changes color,take off from the fire and pour it on the curry.
Garnish with fried onions,if you like.


  1. Delicious looking dal with coconut milk...comfort food..

  2. Loved your version of the daal Farwin...would be soon making this your way. Gorgeous pictures as always.

    1. Thanks sweetie, let me know how it turns out..

  3. Love Parippu. I didn't realise that I wasn't subscribed to your posts... we are pretty much fans of Srilankan food - having lived in Colombo - way back in 1998. But my neighbour taught me this - it's slightly different. Photographs are amazing.

    1. Good to hear that Ishita. Would love to know your version of parippu..

  4. oh my! we call lentils parippu too!! in mal i mean :) and the curry we make is almost the same! and such awesome photos Farwin!!


    1. Thanks Neelu. Our cuisines are very much similar :)

  5. Similarity not only in the dishes, but the ingredients' names too.. :) It's parippu in malayalam !! I make this using ground coconut, must try your version soon .. :)

    1. Would love to know how you do it using ground coconut,Najla .

  6. delicious lentil curry looks wonderful

  7. I made parippu today using this recipe. I didn't have fenugreek at home. So, I cooked without it. I also increased chili powder to 1 tsp. It was so good! I love your blog. It's really well written and the photos are gorgeous!

  8. HI,

    Dear Ms. Farwin,

    Good Evening!.

    Thank you very much for your fabulous cooking styles. Currently I am staying at Qatar with my wife.

    & I Am very much interested to cook your way. We prepared Milk Toffee on yesterday. Also followed your steps as you mentioned.

    I will prepare Parippu & let you know

    Good Bless You!.

  9. salams sis! you havent posted anything for almost a year. :(

    being born and brought up in colombo, your blog brings me back the memories of childhood.

    pls post recipes soon!


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