Parippu curry or dhal curry is every bit a Srilankan staple had as an accompaniment with breads, roti as well as rice. This one is a delicious variation to the South Indian version, the Keralite Nadan parippu curry and Tamilian parippu kadaiyal, which I am most used to. I was pleasantly surprised at how a few variations here and there could indeed result in a very new recipe.
The major difference is the use of red lentils or masoor dal and coconut milk. The consistency is also a bit of thick, like our own kootu. We Indians normally use tuar dal/pigeon peas or moong dal. Srilankans should definitely give our version a try. My recipes for both South Indian versions coming up.
Here I am posting the very basic version, which can be easily prepared. Roasted curry powder is one major ingredient for the flavor. But since I did not have it, I have made my own substitution after going through a lot of recipes and videos.
So non-Srilankans who do not have the roasted curry powder on hand can follow my recipe successfully. Though, if you are into Srilankan Cuisine, you can definitely grind some of your own. My recipe for homemade roasted curry powder too coming up soon. In Qatar, it is available at Family Food Center as well as Retail mart.
Do not get intimidated by the long list of ingredients. The longest part is the substitution for curry powder. If you have that, ignore that part of the recipe and go ahead and add just add two tsps of it.
Coconut milk also can be added as per preference. Two tbsps of thick coconut milk will suffice for this quantity of dal, but I have added 1/2 cup as I made mine medium thick. Coconut milk is very good for the tummy, so this is one way to add it to your diet. You can totally omit it and just add water if you do not like coconut milk.
As a variation, you can add tomatoes and even greens. These can be sauteed with the onion. Normally chilly flakes are used in Srilanka. I have added very little red chilly powder as there is already green chilly in the recipe. Again, adding spices is a matter of personal preference. A bit of black pepper can also be added.
As the dhal has to retain its shape, and not become mushy or pasty, it’s cooked in an open pan. You can opt to use the pressure cooker as we do in India. Just see to it that you do not overcook it. But none of the recipes I went through used the pressure cooker.
I served it for steamed white rice, with tangy beetroot salad and it was so yummy.
Over to the recipe…
Srilankan Parippu curry
For the Dhal
- 1/2 cup red lentils (masoor dal)
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
- a pinch turmeric powder
- few drops castor oil (optional)
Substitute for roasted curry powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp red chilly powder
- a pinch turmeric powder
- a pinch hing
- 1/2" cinnamon
- 1 green cardamom
- 2 cloves
- a pinch fennel seeds
Rest of the ingredients
- 10 sliced pearl onions(or 1 big onion)
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 green chilly
- 1/2 cup medium thick coconut milk
- 1 tbsp oil
- few drops lemon juice
- 2 tsp oil
- 1/8 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/8 tsp cumin seeds
- a pinch fenugreek seeds
- 2 red chillies
- 6-7 curry leaves
- Take all the ingredients listed under for the dal in a pan and cook for about 15 minutes till most of the water evaporates and the dhal is cooked.
- Transfer this to a container, and in the same pan heat up 1 tbsp of oil. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, clove, fennel seeds, thinly sliced onions, garlic and green chillies. The first four items can be omitted if you are adding roasted curry powder.
- Once the onions become fried, add the coriander powder, cumin powder, chilly powder, turmeric powder and hing. Again omit the coriander, cumin and chilly powders if you are using curry powder.
- Fry the powders for few seconds and add the dhall. Mix up well and let boil for around 3 minutes. Now add the coconut milk, let boil and simmer for 3-5 minutes. You may want to add water if you are looking for thinner consistency. Taste check for spices and switch off.
- Heat up 2 tsps of oil, add the tempering items in order.Turn off flame once it splutters and finally add the curry leaves. Pour this over the dhal. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice. Mix well and serve with rice or flatbreads.
- Adding castor oil ensures that the dhal is cooked fast. You can add any oil or just omit it.
- Pearl Onions can be replaced with 1 big onion if you do not have access to it.
- Adding lemon juice brings out the flavor. It does not make the curry sour. You may replace this by adding tomatoes or even a bit of tamarind.
- Some people even add pandan leaf or rampe, to this curry. It is not a staple in our house so I did not add. But you can find these leaves here in Qatar at most shops.
You may also want to look up this traditional Keralite recipe, which is very close to the Srilankan Sodhi.