Onam Sadya Special: Lentil coconut milk curry (Kerala Parippu curry)

 It’s Onam again! And I should say Onam week since Onam is perhaps the only Indian festival that lasts for 10 days! Of course only folks in Kerala still get a chance to celebrate it for 10 days. Less privileged ones like us have to wait for the weekend. But celebrate we will. And how? By cooking an array of delectable vegetable dishes all of which have coconut in varying forms and serving them on plantain leaves for a food feast called as ‘sadya’.  Onam I think symbolizes simple pleasures. Being a harvest festival, it underscores the fact that the best foods/recipes are the ones that use the freshest produce with a minimum of ingredients. Fresh from the farm to the table is what Onam always signified although the modern world is only appreciating it now!

 Last year I posted my dad’s special parippu paayasam.Today I wanted to post ‘Parippu’ curry recipe which is simply lentils in coconut milk. There are different variations of this Parippu curry – some folks use yellow split lentils and also use ground coconut instead of coconut milk. This version is my amma’s version where she always used thick coconut milk. She also used to add potatoes to this curry – I don’t remember when she started doing that but I suspect I had something to do with it, lol …I loved potatoes as a kid (and still do! ) and wanted it in every dish! Now this lentil and potato curry in coconut milk is equally loved by my kids too!  It is very mildly spiced and the coconut milk makes it so creamy and yummy 🙂

This Parippu curry is the first curry served on any sadya, onam or otherwise.  But it tastes equally wonderful with some plain rice and fried fish on the side. Yum.  You could also just have a bowl full of it as soup!

Wishing a Happy Onam to all those who celebrate!

Onam Sadya Special: Lentil coconut milk curry (Kerala Parippu curry)
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Kerala
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
A delicious creamy lentil curry cooked in coconut milk with a garnish of fresh curry leaves and coconut oil!
  • 1 cup toor dal (or split yellow dal), washed and drained
  • 1 medium size onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 green chillies, slit length wise
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large potato, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups thick coconut milk, homemade or canned (see recipe for extracting coconut milk below)
  • 1 fresh sprig of curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil or ghee
For extracting coconut milk (if using homemade):
  • 1½ cups fresh or fresh frozen grated coconut that has been thawed (or shredded coconut)
  • 2 cups of warm water (use hot water for shredded coconut)
Cooking the lentils:
  1. In a pressure cooker, add the washed lentils with the onions, green chillies, salt, turmeric and water. Close the cooker and cook till 3 whistles. Keep aside to cool and then add the potatoes and cook on simmer (without whistle) for 5-7 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. (add more water if needed)
  2. Add the coconut milk and stir and cook for about 1 minute until the mixture comes to a boil. Turn heat off immediately. Add the fresh curry leaves and the coconut oil or ghee.
Using Instant Pot:
  1. Add the washed lentils with the onions, green chillies, salt, turmeric and water to the insert pot. Also add the cubed potatoes. Close the lid and press 'pressure cook' for 10 mins. Wait for 5 mins and then release pressure manually. Let the pot remain on 'warm mode'. Open the pot and add the coconut milk. Also add the curry leaves and the coconut oil. Stir well. Serve hot.
For making homemade coconut milk:
  1. Blend the coconut with 1 cup of water in a blender or food processor. strain and collect the coconut milk in a container. Add the coconut meat back to the food processor and again blend with the rest of the warm water and strain again to get about 2 cups thick coconut milk. Discard the coconut meat or use it to make coconut flour.
If you don't have a Pressure Cooker or an Instant Pot, you can use a regular pot too but you will have to cook the lentils for around 25-30 mins with twice the quantity of water. If not using a pressure cooker or instant pot, I highly recommend you soak the lentils for at least 30 mins in hot water first before cooking. While cooking the lentils in a pot, cover and cook but leave the lid slightly ajar to prevent scum from boiling over.
This curry tastes best with homemade fresh coconut milk. If using canned, use a good brand like Native Forest Classic which does not have any additives


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  1. This sounds like a flavourful dish, Indu. Thanks for sharing at this week’s FF. 🙂
    PS: I have replied to your email – did you get it?

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