A fit and frugal dinner: my easy split pea curry (also known as dal), made in one pot! It is vegan, oil-free, high in protein (17 grams) & gluten-free.
I Love Curry (& You Will, Too)
Oh, how I love a good curry dish.
The fragrance of the spices reminds me of assorted curries made by mother and grandmother (instant nostalgia is always a winner at mealtime) and the flavors warm me through and through. Following a month-plus of rich eats, the simplicity of a boldly-seasoned, plant-based curry is exactly what I crave to being a brand new year.
For all of those reasons, and more, my easy yellow split pea curry fits the bill. It is:
Vegan (dairy-free, egg-free, meat-free)
High in plant protein (17 g per serving)
High in fiber
Fast & easy to make
I love split pea curries in particular (known in Indian cooking as dal, dahl, or dhal) because of the mild sweetness of the peas and their velvety consistency. The peas are rich in protein and cost very little (I’m talking a dollar per pound), too. In sum: split pea curry= a total win.
And, if you are on the fence regarding your like/dislike/love of curry, keep this in mind: the spices can be adjusted to suit your tastes.
More ginger? Less turmeric? Nix the cumin powder? Mega garlic? Subtle heat or a fiery burn? It’s your curry, and it is all up to you. Consider my list of spices (and their quantities) as suggestions. From there, vary to your palate’s, and heart’s, content.
Do Split Peas Need to Be Soaked Before Cooking?
No, they do not! Like lentils–and unlike most other legumes–split peas do not require any advanced preparation, making them a perfect option for easy, as well as last-minute, dinners.
It is, however, advisable to rinse the dried split peas before cooking them. This removes any debris or residue that may be included as a result of the harvesting, processing and packaging. Simply place the peas in a colander or mesh strainer and give them a rinse under cold water.
How to Make the Curry
This curry could not be easier to make. I specifically designed it for post-holidays/ busy weeknights when the focus is more on eating (asap!) than cooking. The lone item requiring chopping is an onion (in a pinch, use frozen chopped onions).
Step One: Soften the Onions
My version of split pea curry is oil-free. Hence, in lieu of sautéing the onions in oil, begin by combining chopped onions and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the onions are softened.
Step Two: Add (Almost) Everything Else
Once the onions are softened, add the remaining ingredients–except for the remaining water–to the saucepan. Specifically, you are adding the rinsed split peas, spices, salt, and tomato puree. Cook and stir for 2 minutes to heat the spices (drawing out their flavors).
Step Three: Add the Remaining Water
Add the remaining three cups of water to the saucepan.
Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to low, partially cover, and cook for 35 to 40 minutes until the peas are tender.
I like the peas fork-tender, but if you prefer super-tender (melting) split peas, cook for about 5 minutes longer.
Adjust the salt to taste and your curry is done!
Serve with Brown Rice or Vegetables
The split peas are delicious on their own, but you can also pair them with brown rice, vegetable rice (such as cauliflower rice), vegetable spirals, or any other grains or vegetables you like. You really cannot go wrong with your pairings here, it is all good :).
I like to serve the curry with lime or lemon wedges, too. The bright, fresh flavor of the citrus juice amps up the bold, earthy spices.
Add Toppings, Too
For additional contrast, consider adding minced onion (yellow, white, green or purple), or perhaps some fresh herbs, such as cilantro or mint.
Are there Differences in Types of Yellow Split Peas?
Yes, there are differences between yellow split peas depending on where they are purchased. I bring this up because I am using dried field peas for this recipe, and all recipes for split peas, here on power hungry.
Dried yellow split peas are one of the following:
Chickpeas (desi variety) (also called chana dal)
If you shop for split peas at an American supermarket, you are buying field peas that are specifically grown to be dried. They are available in both green and yellow. That is what I use whenever I am using dried split peas for recipes here on power hungry.
Dried pigeon peas and split desi chickpeas look almost identical to yellow split peas (field peas), but are different varieties of legumes. You are more likely to find these at International markets. To make matters more confusing, these latter two varieties are sometimes labeled as “dried yellow split peas.” Oy vey!
But not to worry. You can use an equal amount of dried split pigeon peas or chana dal in lieu of yellow split peas (field peas). However, you may have to add more water and increase the cooking time. Also note that split chickpeas and pigeon peas do not have the subtle sweetness of dried field peas.
1 and 1/4 cups (255 g) dried yellow split peas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup (60 mL) canned tomato puree (see notes for options)
Suggested Accompaniments: Brown rice, Vegetable Rice, Spiralized vegetable noodles, lime or lemon wedges (for squeezing onto curry
Suggested Toppings: Chopped cilantro or mint leaves, finely chopped red onion
In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the water with the onion. Bring to a boil over medium high heat; cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes until softened.
Add the ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, (optional) cinnamon, split peas and tomato puree. Cook and stir for 2 minutes longer.
Stir in the remaining 3 cups water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cook, partially covered, for 35 to 40 minutes until the peas are tender (If you prefer the peas even more tender, cook for 5 minutes longer). Season with additional salt to taste.
Serve with any of the suggested accompaniments or toppings, as desired.
Serve warm with any of the suggested accompaniments and/or garnishes.
Storage: Store any leftover curry in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or the freezer for up to 6 months.
Tomato Options: An equal amount of marinara sauce can be used in place o the tomato puree, or 1.5 tablespoons tomato paste plus 2.5 additional tablespoons of water.