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Lovely Lankan Lentils

In today’s culinary journey, we shall cross national borders and a short stretch of clear blue waters to visit the beautiful island nation of Sri Lanka located in the Indian Ocean. Our purpose is to explore and savour a staple dish on the Sri Lankan menu. It is called Dhal Curry – a full-bodied preparation of red lentils with a thick, creamy texture created using coconut, and exuding a rich aroma of fresh spices.

This popular dish is perfect for all occasions. In Sri Lanka, people have it as part of their everyday meals and serve it on special occasions like weddings and festivals too. It is also a healthy preparation that is low on calories and high in protein and dietary fibre.

There are two types of Dhal Curry – a non-spicy version called Parippu Kirata, and a spicy variety called Parippu Mirisata. The version that we will be preparing in today’s post is the non-spicy one. So let’s roll our sleeves up and get started.

Here are the ingredients that you will require.


  1. Red Lentils (Masoor Ki Daal): 200 grams

  2. Coconut Milk: 100 millilitres

  3. Onion: 1, small

  4. Garlic (Lasun): 4 cloves

  5. Mustard Oil: 2 tablespoons

  6. Mustard Seeds (Rai): 1 teaspoon

  7. Curry Leaves (Kadi Patta): 2 tablespoons

  8. Turmeric (Haldi) Powder: Just a pinch

  9. Pandan (Annapurna) Leaves: Half a leaf

  10. Salt: to taste

The Pandan leaf (called Annapurna leaf in India) is used to enhance the aroma of the dish. It is widely used in Sri Lankan cooking and also in the cuisines of the Far East.

The quantities mentioned above are for preparing four servings. Adjust the quantities proportionately to suit the number of servings that you require.


Wash the red lentils in cold water.

Peel, wash and finely slice the onion. Divide the sliced onion into two portions.

Peel, wash and chop the garlic cloves. Divide the chopped garlic into two portions.

Cut the half portion of the Pandan leaf into three pieces..


Let us start by cooking the red lentils. In Sri Lanka, the traditional way to prepare Dhal Curry is in a clay pot. However, you can use any suitable metal utensil that you have in your kitchen.

Add the red lentils to the pot along with one portion of the sliced onion; one portion of the chopped garlic; and the three Pandan leaf pieces. Also add the turmeric powder and salt to taste. Then add around 500 millilitres of water and stir to mix the contents of the pot well. Place the pot on a Medium flame and cook till the lentils are soft and well-done. This should take around 15 to 20 minutes.

While the lentils are cooking, let us proceed with the tempering of the spices. Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan on a High flame. The oil will soon reach its smoking point; streams of white smoke laden with the rich aroma of mustard will begin to rise from the surface of the hot oil. When this happens, turn the flame down to Medium.

To the hot oil, add the remaining portions of the sliced onion and chopped garlic. Sauté for around four minutes. Then add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Continue to sauté till the mustard seeds begin to splutter.

Let us now go back to the pot containing the red lentils. Once the lentils are cooked and they turn soft, add the coconut milk and bring the contents of the pot to a boil. Cook for another five minutes or so.

Now add the tempered spices from the pan (along with the Mustard Oil that is left in the pan) to the pot containing the cooked red lentils. Stir to mix the contents well. Then turn the flame off.

Transfer the contents of the pot to a serving dish. Before serving, you can also sprinkle another tablespoon of Mustard Oil over the top of the dish to accentuate the flavour of mustard.

Your Sri Lankan Dhal Curry is now ready. Serve it hot. This dish is usually eaten with hot Basmati rice.

You can find more recipes at :

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