I am not sure how to spell this– I’m doing it phonetically, but the words look funny, don’t they?

Anyway, Purripu, or dal, and rice is a comfort food for me. It is quick, healthy, and a complete meal. It is also served with other curries – I like purripu b/c it binds all the curries and rice together. And it is the first Sri Lankan dish that I ever cooked because it is so easy to make.



First. What dal do you use? Masoor dal (split or whole red lentils. Where can you get them? If in NYC, any Indian store, Kalyustans in Manhattan or Patel Bros in Queens, for instance, but also grocery stores carry them.

Here’s a picture of whole purripu, rather than the split kind. This will just take a little longer to cook, but there’s no difference.

red lentils or purripu or masoor dal

red lentils or purripu or masoor dal


masoor dal – however much you want – let’s say 2 cups,

a couple of curry leaves

1 inch piece of cinnamon

1 small onion, quartered

black pepper

1/2 tsp. turmeric


Wash the lentils, and then put it in a pot, and cover with twice as much water as lentils (4 cups). Then throw in the cinnamon,  curry leaves, the onion,turmeric and black pepper to taste. Do not add salt yet. Bring to boil, and then reduce to a simmer, partially cover it and you will see the lentils absorb the liquid and soften. About 5 minutes in, add salt. Then cook approximately another 10-15 minutes. If you think you’re running out of water, then add some boiling water to it, if you think it is too watery, keep cooking it. Purripu is served in a porridge-like consistency.

Right now, it is somewhat bland. But the next step is to temper the purripu. When you temper a dish, you add a flavorful addition at the end to enhance the flavors – in this case, by frying some onions, red chili and mustard seeds and then adding it to the mixture.

2 shallots finely sliced.

2-3 dried red chilies (this is to taste)

1 tsp of mustard seeds

a curry leaf or two if you want.

Add the chilies and shallots to olive oil and caramelize the onions.  Then add the mustard seeds, and curry leaves, if using. After the mustard seeds pop, pour the whole thing into the purripu and mix it in.

Variation: Add spinach when you are cooking the purripu – just take a box of frozen spinach, add it to the purripu and cook it together. it is delicious! This and rice is the best lunch to take to work with you, or to eat when you want comfort food.