Parippu curry or dhal curry (dal curry)! Do you like Sri Lankan cuisine? Lentils? Coconut milk? Welcome to 196 flavors and all its culinary discoveries!
What is parippu curry?
Parippu curry should probably be one of Sri Lanka‘s favorite dishes, served at just about every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Parippu means lentils in Sinhalese and Tamil, and it is pronounced “pah-roo-poo”.
Despite the cuisine of Sri Lanka‘s strong links with that of South Indian cuisine, it distinguishes itself by the delicacy and lightness of its flavors, as well as an intense but balanced use of coconut milk. The culture of Sri Lankan food is well represented by its wide range of curries where each flavor is well balanced, the ingredients always fresh and the spices very fragrant. And today’s lentils are divinely scented with coconut milk and deliciously spiced up.
An old Sanskrit aphorism says: “There are as many dhal recipes as there are stars in the sky”.
What is dhal?
The word dhal (दल् in Sri Lankan) also known as daal, dahl or dal, is derived from the Sanskrit word “dal” which means “to crack”, “to split” or “to open”. It encompasses a great deal varieties of split peas, lentils, beans and other legumes. Indeed, legumes are often shelled to be transformed into flour, cake or puree. Incidentally, in Bangladesh, the same word is used to define a soup, or a thick and spicy stew, prepared from dhal.
Paripu or dhal curry is a staple Sri Lankan dish and it is most often prepared with masoor dhal, otherwise known as red lentils, which are bright orange in color and turn dark yellow when cooked.
What is the origin of lentils (masoor dhal)?
You will find them under different names and spellings such as masal dal, masal daal, masur dal, masur dhal, masoor dhal, or masura dal. In Mysore, India, they are also known as Mysore paruppu.
Consumed since prehistory, you can find its first traces in China, India and Asia Minor. Experts even assume that they were already the main source of power for the builders of the pyramids in Egypt. They were introduced in Europe by the Romans.
Masoor dhal have an undeniable advantage compared to their green, yellow and brown cousins: they cook more quickly. About fifteen minutes vs. almost an hour with brown lentils and about 40 minutes for yellow and green.
Masoor dhal, like most lentils, is an incredible source of protein, containing more than 25%, and therefore making it a fantastic option for vegetarians or people on a diet. Similar to other legumes, they are also high in fiber and low in fat and offer many health benefits, including blood sugar control, hypertension control, cholesterol reduction, and the prevention of anemia.
Like all lentils, and unlike many other legumes, masoor dhal does not require soaking before cooking.
Lentil is one of the first vegetables to have been cultivated by men, since prehistory in Asia. Its cultivation might even go back to much ancient times since it was known to be a staple in ancient Egypt, and we even read in the Bible that Esau gave his birthright in exchange for a full plate of lentils. Lentils are even quoted many times in the Bible.
Lentils are available in several colors forming a real rainbow: red, yellow, brown, green.
What are the different varieties of dhal?
In India and many Asian countries, there are more than 50 varieties of legumes. The most famous dhal are:
– Toor dal or tur dal, a small split yellow lentil.
– Chana dal, often incorrectly translated to “chickpea”. It is an Indian variety of “small” chickpeas. The taste is different from chickpea.
– Kala sanga, a kind of brown-skinned chickpea.
– Mung dal or moong dal, very popular, green or yellow mung beans.
– Urad dal, white and very small, split and flattened
– Rajma dal, red bean (kidney shaped, hence the name kidney bean in English), appreciated in Latin America and the Caribbean.
How to make parippu curry
For the preparation of our parippu curry, and in general, every time you will cook them, whatever the recipe, do not be surprised if the masoor dhal change color after cooking. Their red color turns to yellow during cooking. To keep their original reddish color, some people add pieces of beetroot to the cooking water. And, on the contrary, to intensify the orange hues, you will need to use a few pinches of turmeric.
They also tend to melt. So you can taste them throughout the cooking to test if the texture suits you. The cooking time will be longer or shorter depending on the recipe. For example, for a puree or velvety consistency, you will let the red lentils cook longer so that they open up completely. On the contrary, for a salad, just like our curry today, it will be better to cook them for 15 minutes maximum.
Coconut milk, chili, garlic, saffron, curry leaves and more! This parippu curry that I prepared for a shabbat dinner meal with friends was a unanimous success. On the menu that night was a real Asian feast! Our taste buds traveled to Thailand for a pad ka pao gai accompanied by iced tea, China for spring rolls and jiaozi, Vietnam for a bò tái chanh and back to Sri Lanka for dessert with the leftovers of this delicious love cake!
- 8 oz. red lentils (masoor dal)
- 2 cloves garlic , chopped
- 2 onions , chopped
- 4 leaves curry , thinly sliced
- ¼ teaspoon saffron powder
- ½ teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ lime
- 1 green hot pepper
- Wash the lentils well by changing the water at least three times.
- Boil them in the water with the saffron, chili powder, turmeric, curry and cloves.
- After about 15 minutes, when the color of the lentils changes from red to yellow, remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl.
Heat the oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard, fenugreek, and cumin seeds and fry for 20 seconds.
- Add the onion and garlic and mix well for 20 seconds.
- Add the boiled lentils and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk and salt to taste. Cook until the curry begins to boil.
- Remove from heat and add the lime juice.
Add the raw or fried green hot pepper on top (optional).
Serve hot with rice or bread.