Celebrating the delights of good healthy everyday food and special treats! Sharing recipes, information, and experiences.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Recipe for Tarka Dal (Indian Yellow Split Peas)

Recently, I had a good session organizing the pantry.   Ugh, what a mess!  I came across a few things that I bought when they caught my eye, including a bag of yellow split peas intended for soup.  Well the soup never got made, but I came across an interesting sounding recipe on Cooking Channel for Tarka Dal so I pulled out the peas and made it instead.  Oh boy.  REALLY good.   And unlike a lot of Indian recipes I’ve come across, a relatively manageable ingredient list and cooking method.  I can’t remember when my kitchen smelled so good!

I made a few minor changes to the original recipe but not many.

Made 6 generous servings, each approximately 120 calories, 7.3 grams fat, 11 grams carbs, 4 grams fiber, 3.5 grams protein, 3 WW Points+

½ pound dried yellow split peas
3 ¾ cups plus 3 ½ ounces water
3 TBSP canola oil
2 TBSP ground cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
¾ inch of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
¾ tsp ground turmeric
¾ tsp garam masala
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh cilantro for serving
Whole wheat naan for serving (optional)


Bring 3 ¾ cups of the water to a boil and add the peas.  Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 35 minutes or until peas are tender.  Skim off any foam during simmering time.

Remove pan from heat and mash peas with a wire whisk to break them down and set aside to cool and thicken.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add ground cumin, onions, and ginger and cook for 12-15 minutes until softened and browning.

While the onions cook, puree the garlic and tomatoes in a food processor.  When onions are browned, add the tomato/garlic mixture, red pepper flakes, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and remaining water to the pan.

Simmer over medium for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked down to a paste.

Add peas, taste for salt, pepper, and heat and adjust seasoning as needed.  Bring to a boil. 

Remove from heat and serve with chopped cilantro and naan (optional).  The dal will quickly thicken, so if you have to wait to serve, you can add more water if you don't want it so thick (we liked it thicker).

This is a keeper recipe.  It isn’t a quick, throw together after work one (unless you get home early and eat late), but it isn’t onerous either.  You’ll love the flavor of the finished dish and the fragrance of the spices as you are cooking.