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Easy Split Pea Curry {vegan, high protein, oil-free}

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.
overhead shot of split pea curry in a metal bowl with rice alongside

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
  • Oil-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Grain-free
  • Fast & easy to make
  • Frugal

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.

close up of split pea dal with a fork inserted

 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.

close up of dried yellow split peas in a glass bowl

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.

two picture collage of chopped onions and onions with peas and spices added

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.

saucepan filled with ingredients for yellow split pea dal

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!

close-up of a spoonful of curried split peas

Super. Yum.

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.
curried split peas in a metal bowl with rice

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:

  • Field peas
  • Chickpeas (desi variety) (also called chana dal)
  • Pigeon peas

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.

Happy Cooking!

More Split Pea Recipes to Try (& Love):

  1. Split Pea & Green Pea Soup {4 ingredients, Vegan, High Protein}
  2. Baked Split Pea Meatballs {vegan, gluten-free, high protein}
  3. Baked Split Pea-Nuts {nut-free, high protein}
  4. Vegan Yellow Split Pea Soup {vegan, high protein}
  5. 1-Ingredient Split Pea Tortillas {Vegan, Grain-Free}
Yield: 4 servings

Easy Split Pea Curry {vegan, high protein, Oil-Free}

curried split peas in a metal bowl with rice

A fit and frugal dinner: my easy split pea curry (also known as dal), made in one pot! It is vegan, high in protein, oil-free & gluten-free.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 and 1/2 cups (875 mL) water, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 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 Toppings:

  •  

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Add the ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, (optional) cinnamon, split peas and tomato puree. Cook and stir for 2 minutes longer.
  3. 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.
  4. Serve with any of the suggested accompaniments or toppings, as desired.
  5. Serve warm with any of the suggested accompaniments and/or garnishes.

Notes

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.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size

1 and 1/4 cups (310 mL)

Amount Per Serving Calories 238Total Fat 0.8gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 354mgCarbohydrates 44.6gFiber 17.5gSugar 7.4gProtein 17.1g

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