Parippu (a.k.a. Kerala Lentils)

A few Saturdays ago, I visited one of my favorite Ethiopian restaurants in D.C., Etete, with my friends West & Amanda (of apple and pumpkin picking fame). I love trying different ethnic cuisines, and Ethiopian food is definitely near the top of my list. We settled on the vegetarian combination (without fish), some Kitfo (a spicy beef curry), and Yebeg Alicha (a milder lamb stew). Everything was delicious. While I love the meat curries, I’ve mentioned before on the blog that I’m not much of a meat eater. As a result, it was only natural that my favorite part of the meal wound up being the variety of lentils in the veggie combo.

This, of course, made me crave some of my mom’s parippu. If you’ve ever eaten Indian food, this is probably better known to you as Daal. Just think of this as the Kerala version of the dish. I wound up calling my mother so many times last night that she thought I’d been in some sort of accident when she saw all the missed calls. Nope, just needed the recipe.

While I was pleased with the results, this would have benefit from some cilantro and curry leaves. I, of course, had neither because I ran out of the former and pretty much never have the latter. What can I say? I’m a bad Indian. Cilantro or not, this dish is delicious, healthy, and easy to make. And, now that Trader Joe’s sells red lentils, you really have no excuse not to make this. Happy eating!

Recipe from my mother


  • ½ cup red lentils, rinsed twice
  • 1½ to 2 cups water
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¼ onion, minced
  • 1 tomato (or two small Roma tomatoes), roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • large handful of spinach leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Canola oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  • In small/medium pot, combine lentils, water, crushed garlic, minced onion, and tomato. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until lentils are tender. Add more water if it looks like you need it. I wound up using 2 cups of water.
  • When lentils are almost finished cooking, heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat. When oil is warm, add mustard seeds. The seeds will start to pop after a few seconds. Once the popping slows down, add the red onion, cilantro, and curry leaves. Saute, then pour into now cooked lentils along with the spinach.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.

Serves two.


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