Lentils, Kerala-style

May 13, 2008 is LiveSTRONG Day. It is the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s (LAF) grassroots advocacy initiative to unify people affected by cancer and to raise awareness about cancer survivorship issues across the country.

Barbara of Winos and Foodies writes:

I no longer think of my life as AF (After Cancer). I’ve stopped pining for my BC (Before Cancer) life. My life is now just my life. I make the most of every day.

Each year she organises the TASTE OF YELLOW event, inviting yellow culinary creations to commemorate the effort to defeat cancer.

This is a cause very dear to our hearts. Last year, we created Mango-Coconut Sorbet for this event.

This time, the idea for our entry came from our Australian friend VegeYum‘s travel diary from her recent visit to south India.

She gave us a glimpse of sadhyas (traditional vegetarian feasts on banana leaves) in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. One particular sadhya in the beach town of Kovalam featured Rose matta rice, parippu (lentils) drizzled with golden ghee (clarified butter) and a host of other goodies. Pic HERE.

She said: “The dal that you see over the rice was my most favourite.”

Lentils = Dal in north Indian languages, and parippu/pappu in south India. It’s soul food to an Indian and usually features in every meal, with either rice or flatbreads.

Our Taste of Yellow is a simple lentil dish from Bee’s home state of Kerala on India’s southernmost tip. (A GLIMPSE OF KERALA)

In south India, the mandatory sambars and rasams almost always feature toor dal. It’s also the case in Kerala.

Plain lentils or parippu – one of those staples on the menu – is often (but not always) made with mung/moong dal (split, husked mung beans).

In Malayalam, the language of Kerala,

Naadan = from the native land
Parippu = lentils

Parippu can be as basic or complex as you want it to be, and can be prepared with a variety of lentils – toor, moong, masoor, chana, urad, split, whole …

You can go the whole nine yards with coconut, garlic, shallots, curry leaves with a mustard tempering. Toor dal may be substituted for mung. A drizzle of coconut oil on the top gives a new flavour dimension. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to cook parippu. It all depends on personal preference.

In our home, we prefer the most basic parippu with the purest lentil flavour – with nothing but salt, a pinch of turmeric, and a dollop of ghee (clarified butter). We also like it with some texture.

For naadan parippu, we like to toast the the lentils. It brings out the nutty flavour and keeps them from disintegrating to a mush.

Sometimes, we add some coconut, garlic and cumin – just enough to provide background notes without overpowering the creamy lentil flavour. With lentils, we believe, less is more.

NAADAN PARIPPU (Lentils, Kerala-Style)

1 cup mung dal
until golden, not brown. Spreading them on a plate and microwaving them (check at 40 seconds) works too.

Add a finely blended paste of
1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (fresh or dry)
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
with 2 tbsps water

along with
2 cups of water
a pinch of turmeric and

Cook until done on low heat. The grains of dal should be soft, but separate. We use a pressure cooker (2 whistles).

2 tsps of ghee.

Mix in and serve with Rose matta rice – the parboiled red rice from Kerala – and a thoran. (A thoran is a dry dish flavoured with coconut and red chillies). Don’t forget the pappadam and hot pickles.

Naadan Parippu with Rose matta rice and green beans thoran

Naadan Parippu is our entry for the Taste of Yellow event to commemmorate LiveSTRONG Day at Winos and Foodies.

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  1. Altoid says:

    I’ve heard a lot about rosematta. Will check it out soon. I did have a q. I have difficulties cooking brown rice even. Its either watery cooked or watery uncooked. I’ve tried variations in cooking times and quantity of water. I am guessing I’ll run into the same or similar issues with rosematta?

    soak it for 30 minutes to an hour. it will get cooked evenly. rose matta – 3 cups water for 1 cup rice, 3 whistles in the cooker. it turns out perfectly, even without pre-soaking. – b.

  2. A-kay says:

    We make something similar in Tamilian cuisine too and with veggies like beans or gourd varieties, it becomes “poricha kootu”. Btw, check my blog -you have something waiting :)

  3. Anjali J says:

    Looks delicious.. nice picture too. do visit my blog and check out my recipes and paintings :)

  4. Cham says:

    I love the rose matta rice. Lovely shot :yes: Looks like temple prasadam seeing the leave and small serving :tongue:

  5. musical says:

    The last picture is the most beautiful shot of food served on a leaf!

  6. Simona says:

    Lovely, as always. The photos are beautiful. I like the color of the rice and the overall color contrast.

  7. Mallika Iyer says:

    Hi there,
    Firstly, awesome blog. You know the standard reasons – great photography etc.
    I found it awesome due to the readability – you make every recipe sound doable, and that has made a huge difference in my life – coz, I’ a student abroad, and don’t cook unless I am starving. But thanks to your blog (and quite a few others), I cook (and enjoy it!) pretty regularly now!
    One earnest request – please don’t make your food blog open to invited readers only – it has happened with quite a few food blogs I frequent for inspiration/guidance.

    Keep up the awesome work guys. Every photo, every article in this site is so finely etched, its like a piece of art in itself.


    b and I learnt to cook under duress too….so we’ve been there! Glad that you like the site. Keep coming back for more. -j

  8. Another great, simple Indian dish to add to our collection! Kerala is just beautiful and look at those jackfruits! Luckily, our local tropical fruit store here sells tons of fresh jackfruits and I can run out and get some now!

    Now I’m stumped with this gorgeous leaf that you have this beauteous lentil dish displayed on. I’ve twisted my head in all different directions trying to guess the plant. :bruised: I just don’t recognize the leaf. :cry: What is it?

    monstera deliciosa (swiss cheese plant). about 50% of the leaves have holes in them – like swiss cheese.

  9. Vegeyum says:

    This has made me quite homesick for Kerala. The rosamatta rice is so tempting on the leaf, and the Naadan Parippu brings back memories of that wonderful dish that we had in Kovalam. Thank you for writing this enlightening post.

  10. Dee says:

    what a simple and awesome dish!!! I’m gearing up to go and make it right away!!! especially i think moong dal and coconut would be a gourmet experience!!! My mouth is watering thinking about that combo!!!

  11. Rachna says:

    yeah very pretty pictures……

  12. Kaykat says:

    Fabulous picture. And a great writeup and cause.

    Laying the rice and daal on that phylodendron leaf (you actually managed to snag a swiss cheese leaf with no holes!) is a great idea :)

  13. sandhya says:

    looks delicious… the pic looks awesome…

  14. barbara says:

    Thank you Bee and Jai for supporting LiveStrong With A Taste Of Yellow. Lentils cooked this way sound delicious. Have you used white lentils? I’ve seen them once when we lived in New Zealand and only ever made soup from them.

    Your photos are fabulous. I love how you have served it on a heart shaped leaf and added a touch of red. Beautiful.

    we use urad dal a lot in indian cooking. when split and husked, they look white, hence the name ‘white lentils’. when whole, they are black and called ‘black lentils’. isn’t that interesting? thanks for organising this event, dear barbara. – b.

  15. Vaishali says:

    Jai and Bee, I love the simplicity of this recipe. And the presentation with the parboiled rice and banana leaf is absolutely impeccable. Thanks for sharing a traditional recipe.

  16. Uma says:

    Simply delicious. Wonderful pictures. :yes:

  17. Kalai says:

    Delicious and perfect pics! :)

  18. Madhuram says:

    Bee, I owe you a big one. :bow: You mentioned about TOI RSS feed and after including my blog there, the traffic to my site has accelerated. Thank You so much.

    As A-kay has noted, in Tamil Nadu also we cook the very same dal, but with vegetables.

  19. Miri says:

    This is similar to the poricha kootu we make, only we include with chow chow or some other gourd like that….but it still brought back fond memories of “”elai saapadu on special occasions.
    The tur dal would be cooked just so – not mushy but with a bit of texture. We both like our dal cooked the way Maharashtrians do (whipped till smooth) but on festival days it has to be like this. Thanks for posting!

  20. Srivalli says:

    :love: :love: :love:

  21. sushma says:

    That is such a nice shot.. i miss those rosametta rice now..

  22. Laavanya says:

    Looks so pretty.. I’ve never tried making dhal this way with coconuts – my husband loves everything with coconut in it.

  23. richa says:

    aah! u cook the dal w/ coconut paste, will try that next time. i ususally cook the dal then add the paste. is there any change in the coconut flavor, ‘coz i’ve never pressure cooked it? tx

    ours is just the lazier way. – b.

  24. Madhuram says:

    Kindly check my blog, I have something for you.

  25. Smita says:

    Thanks Jai and Bee for your wonderful, inspiring site. I would be one of your silent readers (as you might know!).
    But honestly, the effort and time you guys put into this is really commendable, and deserve more than just a small thank you note. So here’s a ‘virtual big hug’ for you both. Thanks again!

    P.S. The photography in this post (and several others) is really exceptional.

  26. yummmy!!!! Love your pics… it looks so delicious!

  27. Siri says:

    Great cause and gorgeous pic.. :D

    Siri :love:

  28. [...] how parippu (lentils) are used and cooked in South India. They also provide the recipe for Naadan Parippu (Lentils, Kerala Style), that magnificent dish I ate on my recent [...]

  29. [...] Serve at room temperature or slightly warm with rosematta rice and naadan parippu. [...]

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