Onam Special: Lentil and Coconut Pudding (Parippu Paayasam)

IMG_1639A hearty and Happy Onam to all those who celebrate! To all us ‘Mallus’, Onam equates to ‘pigging out’ as that’s one festival (although not much unlike most other festivals! 🙂 ) where ‘food’ is the main attraction. And Onam sadya or the feast takes center stage. My childhood Onam memories are that of my parents working in the kitchen starting in the wee hours of the morning to have a plethora of vegetarian dishes- atleast 12-15 different ones as well as the mandatory  ‘paayasam’ ready by lunch time!. The sound of amma using the coconut scraper would be what would wake me up! She would easily use up at least 4-5 entire coconuts for the sadya! For the sadya we usually would have many ‘non-mallu’ friends as guests and hence it was not just the variety of dishes that needed to be made but they also needed to be cooked in large quantities! So all the large utensils which otherwise would be relegated to the top shelves of the kitchen would suddenly find themselves being put to good use!

My husband and I have also started this same tradition in our home for the last few years and it gives us immeasurable joy to prepare and administer the sadya! Although I must state that I am eternally grateful to the company that makes and markets ‘fresh frozen grated coconut’! 🙂 I would not be half as enthusiastic if I had to scrape coconuts by hand using the scraper like my mom used to do! This year Onam is even more special for us since my dad is visiting with us and so I have the benefit of learning from the Master Chef himself. Dad’s ‘parippu paayasam’ is ‘much sought after’ in our family and so today I took detailed notes as I watched him make the paayasam and for once I was happy to be the ‘sous chef’:) I should mention that dad has an entire set of sweet teeth and hence the only argument we had was over how much ‘jaggery’ needed to go into the paayasam!  “Paayasam wont be paayasam unless you add twice the amount of jaggery as the lentils” he said. I scoffed and squirmed- ‘Really, do we need that much’? Then upon further thought, I decided to keep quiet – it was after all quite pointless arguing about the hazards of eating too much sugar with someone who had lived for twice as long as I had and with one who had a really healthy track record.  It was best to give in and appreciate! 🙂

So here’s the much treasured ‘Parippu Paayasam’ recipe from our family to yours! Btw, this recipe is for a sadya – makes about 20 servings so you may want to halve or quarter the recipe if you don’t have a crowd coming over! 🙂

The ‘pookalam’ or the floral rangoli is courtesy – Hubby and my dad! Also is a picture of the spread / sadya items for tonight’s Onam Sadya – I made Sambhaar, Avial, Moru kootan, Kumbalanga pachadi, cabbage thoran, kadala and kaaya thoran, matanga erisseri, inji pulli and parippu. Oh boy, feels nice to take a break to write this post! 🙂 Btw we will be serving all these dishes over banana leaves – yes we get fresh frozen ones at our Asian grocers! All the recipes that I haven’t yet posted I will be posting them soon! I am also bringing this Onam Special feast to Fiesta Friday this week. 🙂

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Lentil and Coconut Pudding (Parippu Paayasam)

  • Time: about 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
 This recipe makes about 20 servings of about 1 cup each


2 cups or 1/2 kg(1 lb) split moong dal (yellow split lentils)
5 cups water
2 lbs or 1 kg jaggery Melted with 1 cup water
4 cups thinned coconut milk*(canned or fresh)
1 cup thick coconut milk*(canned or fresh)
1 tbsp cardamom powder
1 tbsp dry ginger powder

1/2 cup ghee or unsalted butter
1/2 cup cashew nut pieces
1/2 cup coconut pieces, cut into small 1/2 inch long pieces
2 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 tbsp raisins


Take the lentils (dal) and wash thoroughly with cold water. Then add about 5 cups water and pressure cook for 3 whistles. Keep aside.

While the lentils are cooking, get the coconut milk ready if using freshly extracted milk(see note below)

In a small pot boil about 1 cup water and add the jaggery pieces to it. Heat until all the jaggery is melted and then again continue to cook on medium heat stirring in between to get a really dark brown color. Then turn heat off.

Tae a large wide bottom pot (best to use a large urn or urali ) and add about 1 tbsp of the ghee. Then add the cooked dal and stir to coat with ghee. Next slowly add the jaggery mixture/syrup little bit at a time so it gets nicely mixed with the dal.  Then add the 4 cups of thin coconut milk and continue stirring for about 20-30 minutes on low/medium heat until the mixture becomes thick. (patience is key here…dad was very particular about this step so don’t skip the stirring and cooking!)

Take the thick coconut milk in a bowl and add the cardamom and the dry ginger powder and stir to mix well. Add this to the above mixture and continue to cook on low heat for another 5-10 minutes. turn heat off. The paayasam should be of a thick consistency at this point.

Finally, take a small pan and add the rest of the ghee. Fry the cashew nut pieces until golden brown and keep aside. toast the coconut pieces until golden brown and keep aside. Next add the black sesame seeds and stir until they crackle. Put the heat off and add the raisins and stir for a few seconds. add all of the above garnish to the paayasam.

Method For extracting the coconut milk:

4 cups freshly grated coconut(or frozen coconut that has been thawed)
4 cups warm water

First grind about 2 cups of the coconut with 1 cup warm water in a  food processor and strain through a strainer to get thick coconut milk. Keep this aside. Then take the same strained coconut and add 1 more cup of water and again blend and strain to get 1 cup of thin coconut milk. Discard the coconut meat after two strains. Again repeat the process with the remaining two cups of coconut – blending with 1 cup water at a  time and straining and blending again with another cup water to get a total of 3 cups thin coconut milk.


If using canned coconut milk, dilute with 1/3 rd amount of water to get the thin coconut milk and use as is for the thick coconut milk.

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0 thoughts on “Onam Special: Lentil and Coconut Pudding (Parippu Paayasam)

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  4. I love learning about other cultures, especially ones that I haven’t been introduced to before, such as this Keralan festival of Onam. How wonderful! I love that stunning floral pookalam, looks so festive. Thank you, Indu, for sharing this with us at the fiesta, and thanks for your dad’s recipe as well. <3

  5. Happy Onam! Congratulations on such a beautiful spread, and how nice that you had two men in the family to help out with cooking and decorating. I’m sure your guests will enjoy it all, and those of us at FF have a new festive dessert we can learn to make ourselves.

    • thanks Hilda! Yes isn’t it nice to have the men helping out too! We women in our family have been lucky – most men in our family do help out a lot! Yes the lentil payasam is really yummy although you may want to add less jaggery (brown sugar) than in my dad’s recipe! 🙂 Happy FF to you and thanks so much for stopping by!

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