Yellow Pea Dahl

Yellow Pea Dahl

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.

Yellow Pea Dahl
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4

With a bit of tang from the tamarind, this dahl is a total surprise. It’s a fresh, light dahl, that works as well for breakfast as it does for lunch or dinner. Channa dal works a charm in place of the yellow split peas, and I suspect red lentils would be pretty good too. Reprinted with permission from Green Seasons cookbook by Rachel Demuth.
  • 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

  1. Soak the yellow split peas in water for 30 minutes, then drain and rinse.
  2. Simmer the yellow split peas and shallots in the water until cooked, approximately 25 minutes, adding more water if needed.
  3. Add the salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Mix well, take off the heat and set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the tamarind and jaggery to the seasoned oil, return to the heat and cook until thick and bubbly.
  6. Heat the split pea mixture. Pour the seasoned oil over the split peas and stir in.
  7. Serve hot, garnished with fresh coriander.

Nutrition Information
Calories: 186 Fat: 2.9 Saturated fat: 0.3 Carbohydrates: 31.3 Sugar: 4.5 Fiber: 6.0 Protein: 9.7 Cholesterol: 31.3

9 thoughts on “Yellow Pea Dahl

  1. Ray

    I love dals! Thanks for these new recipes, I have a packet of panch phoran at the back of the cupboard. A dal, some home-made sourdough bread, a little mature cheddar and a green salad and I am a happy bunny.

    1. Monica Post author

      Interesting – I never thought to try cheddar with dal before! Is that like Indo-British fusion? Sounds good to me. Happy bunnies all around. Hop hop!

      1. Ray

        Its a throw back to those early vegetarian cookbooks I used to have when I was a young student I’m thinking early Rose Elliot or the first Crankscookbook. I still have a fondness for those wholefood recipes with heavy whole wheat pastry! but there were a number of cheese and lentil tarts back then – a bit worthy but they feed my nostalgia. I think a good mature cheddar can hold up against a dhal.

        Indo-british fusion? this reminds me of the Hansa restaurant cookbook which focuses on Gujarati vegetarian food. One of the suggestions they make for left over curries is to use them as a filling in a breville sandwich toaster. Delicious and wonderfully inauthentic!

        1. Monica Post author

          I have eard of all of these cookbooks but have never looked at them. Curious about the Gujarati cookbook – I’ve only recently been introduced to this style of Indian cooking (thanks to Urvashi Roe) and I’m totally in love. I’ve used leftover curries in tortillas. 🙂

          Dal Wrap

  2. rachel

    yes I remember the dhals with cheese, I worked at Neals Yard Co Op in Covent garden in the 80s and we made a yellow lentil slice with cheese and spiced up with chilli and no pastry, it was great cold as it went totally solid and you could eat it with your fingers dunked in mango chutney.

    1. Monica Post author

      Lentil slice with cheese dipped in mango chutney? I want that! I’m pretty much a sucker for anything that goes well with mango chutney at the moment. Sounds perfect.

    2. Kenneth

      I was wandering arunod the kitchen looking for something hearty and comforting and healthy, and decided to make lentil soup. I looked at a few recipes and decided to make it simple .garlic (lots mashed and minced)onion small piecescelery small pieces (lots)carrot small pieces (lots)sautee, then added the lentils (didn’t measure, just went for it!), then water and vegan boullon cubes. Let it cook away. Add more water if necessary (I started w/just covering the lentils, til I saw how soupy it was going to be, then added more to make the soup just the consistency I wanted). Near the end of the cooking, I juiced 4-6 lemons and added the lemon juice to the soup pot. Let finish cooking!Delicious!! So, good in fact, that all four kids asked to have it in their lunch the next day .can’t beat that!~Leigh


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