Sunday, April 26, 2009

Black Lentil and Split Pea Dal

I originally checked 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer out from the library. But you can only make so many curries in a two-week loan period! I couldn't in good conscience keep renewing the book over and over again, even if my husband is the library director. Finally, I gave in and bought my own copy.

Now that I own the book, my goal is to make at least one curry per week. At that rate I should be able to work my way through all 660 curries in, uh ... about twelve and a half years! This week's choice is an adaptation of Black Lentils and Split Peas with Cardamom--or Chilke Waale Urad Aur Chane Ki Dal. As usual, I omitted the ghee and other oils, and changed amounts of ingredients. I doubled the amount of lentils and split peas. I served the dal with brown rice and papads Italiccrisped in the microwave (as suggested by Madhur Jaffrey).

The legumes and Indian spices can be found in Asian and international food stores. I bought mine at Global Foods in Kirkwood, MO, one of my favorite places to shop.

Black Lentil and Split Pea Dal

1 1/2 cup split black lentils

1/2 cup yellow split peas

1/2 t ground turmeric

1 onion

8 cloves garlic

chunk of fresh ginger approximately 1" x 1" x 1 1/2", sliced

3 fresh Serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed

2 t cumin seeds

1/2 t asafetida

6 cardamom pods

1 t sea salt

fresh cilantro for garnish

  • Place the lentils and split peas in a pot, and cover with cold water. Rub the beans between your fingers. When the water gets cloudy, pour the beans into a strainer, return to pot, and cover with water again. Repeat this three or four times until the water is fairly clear. Drain the beans and return to the pot.

  • Add 6 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Skim off and discard the foam that forms on the surface. Stir in the turmeric and simmer uncovered 30 minutes until beans are tender and most of the water has evaporated.

  • Meanwhile, put the onion, garlic, ginger, and chiles in a food processor. Pulse until minced.

  • Cook cumin seeds in a skillet until they begin to turn reddish brown, about 1 minute. Add the onion-chile mixture, the asafetida, and the cardamom pods. Stir-fry until the onion is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

  • Stir the salt into the onion mixture. Add 1 cup water, and set aside until the lentils are ready.

  • When the lentils are tender, stir in the onion mixture. Simmer gently 15 more minutes.

  • You can remove the cardamom pods before serving. (Or you can leave them in, as I did, and listen to people exclaim when they get an intense bite of cardamom!)

  • Sprinkle with cilantro and serve. I put more cilantro on the table for additional garnishing.


  1. I've had my eye on this cookbook! And I still haven't visited Global Foods yet. On my to do list!

  2. I am so jeoulous--I live in a backwater community in SC and I can not get those ingredients.

  3. You could probably order some of the Indian spices online. If you order asafetida, get the smallest amount--a little goes a long way! We are growing chiles and cilantro in our garden, so that's another option.

  4. just wanted to let you know you can use arrowroot or potato starch as a sub for the corn starch in that pizza recipe

    I have cilantro in our garden too. I will have to look up stuff online--I don't have that type of lentil or peas in my area. Perhaps when I visit my daughter ;-)