I had gone out for Indian food with a friend of mine several years ago and enjoyed it. Sadly I could not get Jeff to go with me to try it again. He had BAD memories of an Indian inspired dish his mom made and he couldn’t get past the smell of some of the spices. Years go by and nothing changes. We have gone out for all manner of food in the meantime. Afghani, Ethiopian, Moroccan, Italian, etc but no Indian. Then something happens. While he was in school for his MBA the school catered lunches for them. Every now and then the lunches would include an Indian dish or two. Amazingly he liked them! In his typical analytical way he discovered that he likes Northern Indian food rather than Southern Indian food. The crucial piece for him is that he doesn’t care much for coconut milk which we think is heavily used in Southern Indian food. Correct me if I am wrong. We are just beginning our journey here.
Anyway…we saw an ad in the local coupon flyer for a new Indian restaurant. Jeff decided that he wanted to go. So we called our go to friends for dining out and headed out. Guess what? We all loved it! Even the kids. Two of the dishes were too spicy for the kids but they were troopers and ate it all. We had: Medu Vada – Fried lentil doughnut, Vegetable Samosa – Crispy and flaky crust stuffed with potato, onion and peas, Alu Mutter – potatoes and green peas cooked with curry sauce, Alu Gobi – Cauliflower and potatoes, Bibibele Bath – Rice with lentils, vegetables and herbs, Veggie Korma – vegetables cooked with coconut milk and spices, and we had a yellow lentil Dal too. Mind you there were four adults and three kids there! We also had garlic naan and onion naan.
I decided that I was going to make Dal for dinner last night. For a first attempt, it didn’t come out half bad. Actually it was pretty good. So good that Jeff had five or six scoops of it!
Dal of Yellow Split Peas
- 1 cup yellow spilt peas (if you have the time, soak them in cold water for an hour)
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 3 cups water or broth (I used an equal mixture of vegetable broth and water)
- 1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 4 – 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 handful cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tomato, roughly chopped
- 1 small cucumber seeded and sliced into thin round slices
- 1/2 red pepper, seeded and chopped
- Rinse the split peas and place in a large saucepan. Cover with the water or stock.
- Add the carrots and the celery.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the peas are tender. About 45 minutes to an hour. Stir now and then. If there is no water left, add more 1 cup at a time. (You aren’t making soup but you don’t want it to be dry either)
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over high heat.
- When the oil begins to smoke, add the cumin seeds and cover with a lid or splatter screen. Gently shake the pan a bit.
- When the seeds have stopped making noise, add the onion and saute over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until golden brown and translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook another 2 – 3 minutes.
- Now add your spices (cayenne, ginger, and cardamom). Stir well.
- Add this mixture to the split peas and stir. Leave on the heat for a minute or two to combine.
- Toss in the tomato, salt, butter and the cilantro right before serving.
I served it with a bowl of whole wheat couscous because I forgot to set up the rice cooker ahead of time. The cucumber and the red peppers were put on the table for everyone to garnish their own bowls with. The original recipe called for tumeric but we don’t like tumeric so I left it out. Coriander seeds would be great in this too.
When you pile it all on your plate then it looks like this: