Parippu (Sinhala: පරිප්පු) more commonly known as dhal, is a popular dish of the Indian subcontinent. Within Sri Lanka itself every household prepares this in many different ways and that’s the beauty of parippu; No two households will prepare it exactly the same. For me, Sri Lankan parippu has two distinct types: The Mysore dhal (red lentil) type (මයිසූර් පරිප්පු) , which is quicker to cook as it is a smaller size, and the Yellow split pea type (කඩල පරිප්පු), which is more time consuming, but tastes far more creamier.
The Mysore version I cook when I get nostalgic for my mum’s cooking — she cooks up a version that is water based as opposed to coconut milk based and has lots of chili powder and it always reminds me of home. This recipe is for the yellow split pea version. It takes a bit of love and care, but it’s so worth it and you will forget all the effort you went to when a warm bowl of this is in your hands with a side of rice or bread, enveloping you in it’s sunshine yellow goodness. I cook dhal all the time and as such I do it without exact measurements. I have tried to get these measurements as close as possible to accuracy. Do keep in mind though, this recipe serves 4-6 people. The good thing about cooking it in bulk is that you can freeze dhal for ages. With that being said… Away we go!
3-4 cups yellow split pea dhal
500 ml coconut milk
2-3 tsp turmeric
1 large red onion
5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Birds Eye chillies
1 sprig curry leaves
5cm Pandan leaf
3 tsp black mustard seeds
4-5 dried red chillies
3 cm piece cinnamon bark
2 tsp chilie flakes
Salt to taste
1. Wash the lentils very well in running water until all the cloudiness has disappeared.
2. Soak the lentils in water. Leave aside to soak for at least one hour. This is important as you need to soften the lentils before they can be cooked. Use enough water to cover the lentils.
3.Next prep the other ingredients. Slice the onion and red chili, slice the garlic and have everything redy to go (also I needed to show off the pretty pictures and colours in case that wasn’t clear)
4. Next, empty the lentils and the soaking water into a large pot. Add in the turmeric, 2-3 tsp of salt, the cinnamon, sliced red chillies, half of the onion, curry leaves, pandan leaf and garlic.
5. Add in 1/4 of the can of coconut milk and give the lentils a good stir. Leave on a high flame.
6. Next is the bubbly and frothy stage. The water has to bubble up and froth. You can lower the flame if it looks like the water my overflow. Once the bubbling and frothing is done, the water content will be reduced. This is what you want.
7. Keep the flame on high until the lentils have cooked through and they are soft to touch. At this stage, add in the rest of the coconut milk and lower the flame to medium.
8. Next, grab a small pan bring about 1 tbs of oil to temperature. Once the oil is hot, add in the mustard seeds and lower the flame immediately.
9. The proceed to add the dry red chillies, remaining pandan leaf, curry leaves, onion, garlic and chilli flakes. This is the flavour profile of the dhal and it’s imperative that you don’t let it burn in any way.
10. This mixture needs to be added to the lentils that have been bubbling away and thickening up.
Essentially, your parippu is now done.You do need to check for salt and adjust for taste. Then, proceed to serving this up. I garnish mine with extra curry leaves, red onion and a touch of dark roasted Sri Lankan curry powder because that’s what my mum did and I don’t question her methods.
You can serve this with bread, rotis, chapattis, rice, whatever you wish! I served mine as a part of curry night dinner event I held for my closest friends.
Got any suggestions, feedback or comments? Shoot me a message on the comment section below!