I went through a long phase where I was cooking and eating a lot of Indian food, so much so that I’m pretty sure I was one of those people who perpetually smelled like a curry house. Indian is one of my favourite cuisines and I feel like I’m at a point where I have a good repertoire of techniques and go-to recipes that work every time (red lentil dal with panch phoran, besan cheelas, cucumber and coconut salad to name a few).
But then suddenly the phase stopped. The recipes got old. I got bored. Then, a few weeks ago, my recent weekend with Urvashi Roe rejuvenated my appetite for Indian with a slew of new flavour sensations gained largely at her breakfast table and at the buffet at Sakonis. I’ve been heavily experimenting with new Indian recipes ever since.
Once such recipe is this Yellow Pea Dahl from the Green Seasons cookbook by Rachel Demuth. Though not Indian herself, Rachel’s traveled the globe, learned from the best and has been passing on her knowledge of Indian cookery (amongst other cusines) at her Vegetarian Cookery School for years.
This dahl caught my eye for its lack of tomatoes and inclusion of tamarind, a tart, sour fruit. The only substitution I made was to use channa dal rather than yellow split peas. This was such a refreshing change from my usual dal, with the lemony tang of the tamarind giving this a fresh edge. It’s also a cinch to throw together and does really well with a bit of spinach added to the mix. Give me this and with some raita, spicy pickles and warm chapatti, and I’m a happy camper.
I think this may even become my new breakfast “porridge”, but I’ll save my current savoury breakfast phase for another post.
- 150g yellow split peas
- 6 shallots, peeled and sliced
- 600ml water
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 2 tbsps sunflower oil or ghee
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 6 curry leaves
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- pinch asafoetida
- 1 tsp tamarind paste, diluted with 2 tsps water
- 1 tsp jaggery or brown sugar
- small handful fresh coriander, chopped
- Soak the yellow split peas in water for 30 minutes, then drain and rinse.
- Simmer the yellow split peas and shallots in the water until cooked, approximately 25 minutes, adding more water if needed.
- Add the salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Mix well, take off the heat and set aside.
- Heat the sunflower oil or ghee in a small frying pan and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the curry leaves, cumin and asafoetida, stir and remove from the heat.
- Add the tamarind and jaggery to the seasoned oil, return to the heat and cook until thick and bubbly.
- Heat the split pea mixture. Pour the seasoned oil over the split peas and stir in.
- Serve hot, garnished with fresh coriander.