Parippu Curry – Kerala Style Dal

Cook Eat WorldAsianParippu Curry – Kerala Style Dal

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: March 8, 2022

Parippu is a creamy and fragrant lentil curry from the South of India and Sri Lanka. Bursting with flavour, colour and texture. One of my most-cooked Indian recipes for a reason. It’s a dreamy, creamy delight.

A bowl of parippu dal on a blue background

My first encounter with this Parippu curry, a Kerala Style Dal dish, was visiting the South of India, in a charming beach town of Varkala. We spent the morning swimming and sunning ourselves and for lunch sampled the creamy, nutty delights of parippu curry dal as part of a banana leaf offering, known as a Sadya.

Our Sadya (meaning ‘feast’) must have featured 15-plus samples of various vegetarian curries, chutneys and sambals served with rice and poppadoms - a combination of many textures, flavours and fragrances - a truly wonderful banquet bathed in the warm Indian sun.

Moong Dal - the main ingredient for the creamy yellow dal from Kerala, India - Parippu

What is Parippu?

Parippu curry is a simple tadka style dal made from split yellow moong beans (see above). A golden creamy gravy with a slick of vibrant, spiced buttery tadka drizzled on top. It’s a simple, filling dish that’s essential for any Indian feast, but just as at home on its own, drizzled over fluffy basmati rice.

The different types of parippu

Parippu comes in many guises - In my recipe I feature the most commonly used lentil, moong dal, the hulled version of the dried moong bean (mung bean). It looks a little like a split yellow lentil. Moong dal the perfect lentil because it breaks down quickly and forms a creamy texture with a light, nutty flavour. But Parippu curry isn’t limited to moong dal - it's cooked using a wide variety of lentils, each bringing its own personality to the final dal - here are just a few:

  • Kadala Parippu (Chickpeas)
  • Uzhunnu Parippu (Urad Dal)
  • Sambar Parippu (Toor Dal)
  • Thuvara Parippu (Toor Dal)
  • Cheruayar Parippu (Mung Bean)
  • Parippu Pradhaman (A parippu made into a dessert with copious amounts of sweet jaggery and fruit).

Why it works

My Parippu Curry dal works so well because it’s a filling, satisfying dish, so comforting with its rich, creamy sauce and spiced buttery ‘tadka’ drizzle. A dish so complete in flavour, fragrance and texture. Perfect for a light lunch on its own with rice or breads or as part of a larger offering of curries and vegetable dishes.

What is a tadka?

Tadka (also known as tarka or chhaunk) is a method of seasoning; a tempering of oil and spices added after the initial cooking of a dish to enhance its flavour. The tadka ingredients are flash fried in a generous amount of oil or ghee to bring out their natural flavour. The entire tadka, oil and all, is then stirred into a sauce to add further layers of flavour and texture. It can transform a good dish into an amazing dish!

Tadka ingredients

The ingredients for the tadka of a parippu dal including chillies, shallots, tomato, curry leaves and more

Stuff you'll need

For my parippu curry recipe, you won’t need too many ingredients. Here are the key flavours.

  • Dal - I typically use moong dal for the creamiest texture.
  • Coconut milk (cooking the dal in coconut milk creates the most luxuriously creamy texture)
  • Ghee creates a wonderful nutty flavour*
  • Turmeric - to enhance the golden hues of the dal
  • Spices are cumin, mustard seeds, dried chilies and chilli powder
  • Fresh ingredients are fresh curry leaves, shallots, tomatoes and fresh chilli

*To make this dish vegan, use vegan ghee, vegetable oil or coconut oil.

Step by Step

Making this parippu curry is simple - four simple stages and no more! And you won’t believe just how splendid the final dish is!

  1. Make the lentil puree – Combine the lentils in the coconut milk with some turmeric
  2. Simmer the lentils for 35 minutes until thick and creamy.
  3. Fry the tadka. In a generous amount of ghee, fry all the remaining ingredients briefly. The aim is to spice the oil and draw out all the natural spice and flavours without cooking too much.
  4. Pour the tadka into the dal and lightly stir. Keep a little back for garnish
Coconut milk and turmeric are poured into moong dal for Parippu Curry
Creamy cooked moong dal lentils for a Parippu Dal
The tadka is cooked in hot ghee for Parippu Dal
The tadka is poured into the cooked lentils for Parippu dal

Pro Tips to make your life easier

Instant pot cooking

  • You can cook this dal very easily in the Instant pot. Moong dal break down quickly so only need around 10 minutes of cooking under pressure. Fry the tadka as normal and stir into the creamy sauce.

Change the tadka ingredients

  • Tadka can include many variations of flavour. You can change the flavour by choosing your favourite whole or ground spices and some variations in fresh ingredients too. Try some of these suggestions:
    • Whole or ground spices: Cloves, cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon, poppy seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, aniseed, nigella seeds, coriander seeds/powder, paprika, garam masala
    • Fresh ingredients: ginger, garlic, carrot, celery, radish, caramelised onion, scallion

Serving and storing suggestions

  • Serve parippu with fluffy basmati rice or a selection of Indian breads like roti, paratha, idli, dosa or uttapam.
  • Parippu curry will work excellently on its own as a main course and also alongside other veg or non-veg Indian and Sri Lankana dishes.
  • Store parippu in the fridge for 4-5 days in a sealed container.
  • Parippu freezes well, portion up and freeze in containers for 3+ months. Cook from frozen in the microwave or thaw and cook in a pan.

Ready to get cooking?

In essence, parippu dal is a simple, humble dish that can be enjoyed as a side dish or as the main event. There’s nothing more delicious than parippu and rice! Try it over a piece of fried fish too. It’s a staple in my house, and freezes well. I think there’s never a time where there isn't a portion or two or parippu in my freezer!

Lentils cooked in indian spices and coconut milk

Any Questions? (FAQ)

Have a question about Parippu Curry (Kerala style dal)? Let me know in the comments.

Is Parippu Curry spicy?

Not really, there’s a little chilli heat, but it’s simple to dial that up or down. You can omit the chilli completely, which will make it perfect for kids and babies.

Can I freeze Parippu curry?

Parippu freezes perfectly and is a great candidate for meal-prep - just freeze on its own or with a little cooked rice - the two should cook evenly together in the microwave.

More lentil recipes

Lentils are a favourite of mine and I have a constant supply in my cupboards, ready to create recipes from around the World - here are a few of my must-try favourites.

Parippu - Kerala Style Dal Curry

Parippu - Kerala Style Dal Curry

Rate this recipe

4.75 from 4 votes
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Recipe by Lee
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 381

Video Recipe

Ingredients

For the Tadka

Instructions

  • Add the moong dal, coconut milk and turmeric to a pan. Pour over 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to very low so that it's very gently bubbling.
    Cover and cook for 35 minutes until the dal is soft and creamy, then remove from the heat.
    NOTE: you will most likely need to add more water during the cooking if the dal becomes too thick. The consistency should be similar to a creamy soup, so adjust accordingly. (See video recipe for a guide.)
  • Using a wok or deep frying pan over a moderate heat, add the ghee an let it get hot.
    Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and dried chillies and let them sizzle for 20 seconds.
    Add the curry leaves and let them splutter briefly before adding the shallots, followed by the green chilli, chilli powder, salt and then finally tomato.
    Stir and reduce the heat to low - let this all sizzle for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
    Remove from the heat.
  • Tip the tadka into the dal (reserve a little for garnish) and stir in well.
  • When you're ready to serve, heat the tadka until it starts to sizzle again and then pour ot over a serving bowl of hot dal. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro if you like.

Notes

Cooking in the Instant Pot
  • The lentils break down quickly, so only need around 10 minutes of high-pressure cooking. Then, follow the same method for the tadka.
Change the tadka ingredients
  • You can change the flavour by choosing your favourite whole or ground spices or fresh ingredients for the. Try some of these suggestions:
    Whole or ground spices: Cloves, cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon, poppy seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, aniseed, nigella seeds, coriander seeds/powder, paprika, garam masala
    Fresh ingredients: ginger, garlic, carrot, celery, radish, caramelised onion, scallion
Serving suggestions
  • Serve parippu with fluffy basmati rice or a selection of Indian breads like roti, paratha, idli, dosa or uttapam.
  • Parippu curry will work excellently on its own as a main course and also alongside other veg or non-veg Indian and Sri Lankana dishes
Storage
  • Parippu stays fresh in the fridge for 4-5 days in a sealed container
  • Freeze in portions on its own or with a little rice. The two will cook evenly in the microwave. Parippu will freeze for 3+ months.

Nutrition

Calories: 381kcal (19%) | Carbohydrates: 37g (12%) | Protein: 15g (30%) | Fat: 21g (32%) | Saturated Fat: 15g (94%) | Cholesterol: 19mg (6%) | Sodium: 651mg (28%) | Potassium: 241mg (7%) | Fiber: 6g (25%) | Sugar: 3g (3%) | Vitamin A: 650IU (13%) | Vitamin C: 57mg (69%) | Calcium: 49mg (5%) | Iron: 5mg (28%)
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