Sri Lankan Spicy Lentil Curry

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My one-pot, vegan Sri Lankan spicy lentil curry with coconut milk recipe (Parippu Mirisata/පරිප්පු මිරිසට) that you definitely have to try. it’s super easy and very beginner-friendly. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you can definitely make this dish without chili and it’s still really really good.

There are so many Sri Lankan red lentil curry (“Parippu curry/ dhal curry) recipes out there. I have a few of my own too. When you eat lentil curry 4-5 times a week you got to come up with different ways to make it. If you’re interested in learning a few different versions check out my “Red lentil curry in three ways” recipe post. This recipe here is the curry I specifically make for Sri Lankan string hoppers aka “Idi Appa/Idiyappam” and ghee rice.

You only need a handful of ingredients for the curry. And I’d say all the ingredients are easily accessible. Except for curry leaves and pandan leaves. If you live outside of South Asia. Check out your local Indian grocery store for curry leaves. Pandan leaves are available in Southeast Asian grocery stores too. Look in the frozen section.

Recipe overview

The recipe is very easy and pretty straight forward. You temper the ingredients in a bit of coconut oil first, then add lentil and add water and cook until lentils are almost cooked. And then add coconut milk as little or as much as you like depending on how much gravy you need and cook on low until lentils are completely cooked and the curry thickens up.

The most important part of this recipe is washing your lentils very well until water runs clear and soak them for about 30 mins. When you don’t wash the lentils very well the starch turns into a foam and it can make the liquid spillover.

Why you need to soak lentils?

Soak your lentils for 20 – 30 mins. It makes a huge difference in cooking time. And it also makes all the lentil grains cook evenly. And there’s less chance that your lentils get mushy. If you don’t have time to soak your lentil then make sure to use a bit more water to cook the lentils. And it would take a bit more time to cook too.

Serving suggestions:

The amount I have given here is enough to serve 4 – 6 people.

This Sri Lankan spicy red lentil curry goes so well with Sri Lankan Yellow Rice, ghee rice, String hoppers, coconut roti (flatbread), and even with butter naan.

Hope you enjoy it. And if you make it or if you have any questions please leave me a comment in the comment section.

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Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 10 mins Cook Time 15 mins Total Time 25 mins


My one-pot, vegan Sri Lankan spicy lentil curry with coconut milk recipe that you definitely have to try. it's super easy and very beginner-friendly. If you're not a fan of spicy food, you can definitely make this dish without chili and it's still really really good.



  1. Wash your lentils thoroughly to remove all the starch and until water runs clear. Add enough water to soak the lentils and soak them for about 30 mins. You'll see that they turn pale in color and plump up.

  2. Then heat a saucepan or small pot. Add coconut oil. When the oil heats up add mustard seeds. They should sizzle right away. When they start to splatter add your curry leaves, pandan leaves, chopped garlic, and chopped onion. Saute until garlic turns brown and onions turn translucent.

  3. Then lower the heat and add chili powder, turmeric powder, salt. Mix and saute for a few seconds.

  4. Now drain water from your lentils. Add lentils to the pot along with sliced green chilies and mix well with other ingredients.

  5. Add water just to cover lentils and stir lightly to mix. (if you didn't soak lentils for 30mins, add a little bit more water)

  6. Bring the water to simmer. Then turn the heat to the lowest setting.

  7. Cover and cook for 5-10 mins or until lentils are almost cooked through. (Open the lid and mix lightly if the liquid starts to foam and spillover. Then keep it half covered so the steam can escape. You can avoid this by washing lentils very thoroughly before you cook to remove all the starch)

  8. Then add coconut milk and mix. If you need more gravy add more and if you need a dry curry add less than the amount I mentioned.

  9. Bring it to simmer while lightly mixing. Don't mix too much so the lentils won't break. Taste and add salt if needed. Cook for another minute on low heat and turn the heat off.

Keywords: Parippu, Dhal, Dal, Lentil curry, Red lentil, Vegan, Vegetarian, Spicy lentil curry, Parippu mirisata, Spicy dhal curry, Spicy dal curry, Easy lentil curry


  1. Hi, will using canned coconut milk in supermarkets work? I have used them on your recipes in the quantities you have provided in the recipe – but unfortunately the curry loses all flavour due to the coconut milk and becomes too milky. Im wondering if its the fault of the canned coconut milk which you get in the Asian section of the grocery store (I am based in Australia).

    1. I do use canned coconut milk but since they’re way thicker than the actual coconut milk we extract from fresh coconut I dilute them a little bit. Mix about 1/4 cup of water with about 3/4 cup of coconut milk. If you leave an opened can in the fridge then add more water than this to dilute because it get’s thicker due to drying up in the fridge.

  2. Hi! I have a ton of green lentils that need using, would this work as a substitute for red lentils here? Thanks! Looks delicious

    1. Hi,
      Thank you!! yes, You can, but green lentils take a lot longer to cook than red lentils. You may have to add more liquid and also increase the cooking time.

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