Sri Lankan Coconut Dhal

1 Min Prep Time
20 Min Cook Time
Written By:
Neha Chandra

What I love most about this dhal aside from it being an obvious crowd pleaser is that it requires next to no prep time - you can make it on the go! Red lentils don't need prior soaking as they cook quite quickly on the stove. You then add in the rest of the ingredients which you can prep and add in as the dhal is cooking.

"Aside from being an obvious crowd pleaser... it requires next to no prep time - you can make it on the go!"

This coconut Sri Lankan dhal aka Parippu is hands down the most popular dinner party dish and my go-to for potluck dinner parties. I've had so many friends request this recipe from me. The combo of the creaminess from the coconut cream and the mouthwatering tempering of spices, onion and curry leaves on top leaves you wanting more and more!

I heard of this recipe during a bootcamp class years ago. My kickboxing buddy's dad was chef and this is their family secret recipe. As she explained the simplicity of the steps, I didn't believe her. I noted it down after class and tried it out for myself. I was gobsmacked by how so few spices were used but yet the dish was packed with so much flavour. My hubby became an instant fan and it's been a favourite ever since.

The turmeric in this recipe provides a golden hue and you receive the maximum benefits when combined with the black pepper, heat and healthy fat (coconut cream.)

And finally, and arguably the best part is the tantalising flavours of tempering spices. Not only does it look like a fancy piece of art spread across a golden base - it tastes epic! Make sure the mustard starts spluttering first before adding in curry leaves (stand back as these pop and may fly) and the remaining ingredients - thinly sliced onion and dried red chilli. You'll know it's done once the onion has crisped up. Add it on top of the cooked dhal creating a heavenly combo on your palette.

My hope is that this recipe transforms your life as much as it has mine!

1 Min Prep Time
20 Min Cook Time

Sri Lankan Coconut Dhal



  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 green chilli slit
  • 1 small onion chopped or half a big one (save other half for tempering)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Sprinkle of black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream


  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 2 grief red chilli broken into pieces
  • 1 small onion or half a big onion thinly sliced


For the dhal:

  • Rinse the red lentils until the water runs clear.
  • Into a pot add red lentils, 1.5 cups of water
  • Add in the green chili, onion and garlic
  • Add turmeric powder, pepper and salt. Bring to boil.
  • Turn the heat to medium, cover the pot and cook the lentils until all the water is absorbed and lentils are cooked through. This would take about 15 minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk stir to combine. Cover and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Check seasoning and add more salt if needed.

For the tempering:

  • Heat the oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, curry leaves, onion and broken dried red chili. Cook until the mustard seeds start to splutter.
  • Pour the tempering to the cooked dhal

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