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Dal (Yellow Split Peas with Indian Spices) recipe

Dal (Yellow Split Peas with Indian Spices) recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Main course
  • Curry
  • Vegetarian curry

This dal recipe is great as it is not pureed but rather whole and makes a great cheap meal for you family.

Buckinghamshire, England, UK

17 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 1 litre water
  • 250g yellow dried split peas
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-4 whole green chillies, pricked with a knife
  • 2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful chopped fresh coriander leaves

MethodPrep:5min ›Cook:45min ›Ready in:50min

  1. Place the lentils and 900ml of the water into a pan, stir well and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth that forms on the surface of the water with a spoon. Cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer, stirring regularly, for 35-40 minutes, or until the lentils are just tender, adding more water as necessary.
  2. When the lentils have cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and use a whisk to break down the lentils. Set the mixture aside to thicken and cool.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 20-30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  4. Add the onion, chillies and ginger and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Blend the garlic and tomatoes to a puree in a food processor. Add the puree to the pan and stir well to combine.
  6. Add the ground spices and 100ml of water to the pan and stir well to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and simmer over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the oil from the sauce has risen to the surface of the sauce.
  7. Add the cooked lentils to the sauce and stir well, adding more water as necessary to loosen the mixture. Bring the mixture to the boil and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the chopped coriander just before serving.


Serve with rice.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(4)

Reviews in English (2)

liked it-08 Apr 2016

Wonderful dal curry, I used green split peas but you could use an split beans.-19 Dec 2014

The Best Dal Ever

Dal was always on the table when I was growing up, thanks to my mom. I wanted to create my own signature dal recipe, and this is it! It's creamy and rich from the coconut milk, and tangy from the lemon juice. The tomatoes add sweetness and I love adding a bit of sneaky spinach to add some greens to my day. This dal is my favorite — it's comforting, hearty and the perfect weeknight companion.

Technique tip: Soaking the lentils for as little as 30 minutes or as long as overnight allows them to cook faster. Don't skip soaking!

Swap option: Feel free to use full-fat coconut milk if you prefer a richer dal.

Dal (Yellow Split Peas with Indian Spices) recipe - Recipes

Split peas — or matar dal — are not the most frequently used legume in Indian dal curries, but their rich, earthy taste and hearty, chewy texture contrast beautifully with the hot and tart and tangy flavors for which Indian cooking is so famous, and make a wonderful change of pace on occasion. This simple and colorful curry takes abundant advantage of these natural combinations of Indian flavors with the humble split pea, and takes no more than 10 minutes of preparation and 15 minutes of cooking.

As usual, ingredients like amchoor powder (ground dried mangoes) and garam masala are easily available at local Indian grocers, or you can make your own garam masala blend using ideas found here or here.

Indian-Style Yellow Split Pea Curry (Matar Dal)
Recipe by Lisa Turner
Cuisine: Indian
Published on January 25, 2012

A simple and colorful curry contrasting the earthiness of split peas and hot, tart and tangy Indian spices and flavors

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

  • 1/2 cup dried yellow split peas
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 green chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon amchoor powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • small handful fresh coriander or parsley leaves, chopped

Rinse the split peas under cold running water and soak for 1 hour under several inches of cold water. Drain and rinse, then add to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the peas are tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat the ghee or olive oil in a frying pan or wok over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and fry for 2 minutes or until the onion starts to turn translucent. Toss in the ginger and chilies, and stir for 1 minute. Add the cumin seeds and cook for 30 seconds or until the seeds darken a couple of shades and turn fragrant. Now stir in the tomato, cayenne, turmeric and amchoor and cook for 5 minutes or until the tomato starts to reduce. Stir in the split peas and let the pan simmer for 10 minutes to let the peas warm and absorb the flavours.

Remove the pan from heat and season with salt and garam masala. Serve hot or warm on its own or on a bed of hot fresh white rice, garnished with chopped fresh coriander or parsley leaves. To reheat, add a little water and simmer gently in a pan for several minutes.

Basic Yellow Split Pea Dal Recipe

In Vietnamese, there’s a term called bùi, which means buttery and rich but it doesn’t just describe desserts. My mother likes to apply the word to tasty legumes. That’s how I like to characterize this Indian dal recipe, one of my go-to Asian vegetarian dishes. It’s very bùi (“boo-ee”) and loaded with spices and a touch of heat too. 

I’ve been making this dal recipe for years and I tweak it all the time. For example, last week, I made an Indian lunch for company: Tandoori chicken, seared ginger raita, green salad, basmati rice, and dal. Since the raita called for mustard seed, curry leaves, and whole chiles, I dropped them from the dal. Instead I cooked chopped onion with the garlic and other spices to flavor the dal.  On the other hand, if there is a lot of onion used in another part of the meal, I’ll drop it from the dal and opt for the curry leaves and chiles. I imagine that you can use all the ingredients too.

However you fuss with the seasonings for a dal, the foundation is the creamy base of cooked legumes (step 1). Once you have that, you can add spices and aromatics to impart extra flavor. Frying those ingredients intensifies them and sometimes, in the case of the onion that gets caramelized, transforms them. Developing that wallop of seasonings is important as the buttery dal will soften their blow once everything is combined.

Note that dal can be prepared from a variety of legumes (pulses). This favorite features yellow split peas, which have a wonderful richness, earthy depth, and cheery color. At South Asian markets, look for chana dal, which cook up a little firmer and don’t lose their shape entirely like the yellow split peas sold at mainstream markets and health food stores. Some cooks like to soak the peas first before cooking but I just throw it into a pot with water and turn on the heat.

If you tweak this recipe, let me know your twist!

Basic Yellow Split Pea Dal

1 cup chana dal or yellow split peas
4 cups water
2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup canola oil
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon brown or black mustard seeds (optional)
5 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped, and/or 1 or 2 hot green Thai or Serrano chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise and 10 fresh or thawed curry leaves, blotted dry with paper towel
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne (use the maximum if no fresh chiles are used)
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, leafy tops only

1. Put the dal and water into a 4-quart pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim the scum and then add the tomato. Lower the heat to simmer. Cover and cook until the dal is soft and broken up, 40 to 60 minutes. Remove and discard the tomato skin pieces, and then gently whisk to further blend the dal and tomato. The dal will break up a bit.

You can make the dal a day in advance up to this point. Let it cool completely and refrigerate. Return it to room temperature before moving forward. Add a splash of water when bringing it up to a simmer as it’s bound to thicken a lot from sitting overnight.

2. Bring the dal to a simmer and have a lid ready before proceeding. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and partially cover to shield yourself from the sizzling drama. Decrease the heat to medium. After the seeds stop sputtering, uncover.

Add the garlic and onion (or the chiles and curry leaves). If you used onion, cook, stirring for a good 5 minutes, until the onion has turned a dark brown. If you opted for the chiles and curry leaves, you only need to cook them with the garlic for about 1minute, or until the chiles and leaves are fragrant and slightly blistered.

3. Regardless, turn off the heat and stir in turmeric, coriander, and cayenne. Add to the simmering dal. Stir in the salt and butter. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes to develop the flavor. Taste and add extra salt, as needed. Transfer to a shallow bowl, garnish with cilantro, and enjoy with rice, naan, chapati, or warm whole-wheat tortillas.

Motor Dal| Bengali Split Pea Dal Recipe

Split pea dal or matar dal is one of the most popular lentils in Indian cooking. Belonging to the family of Pisum sativum also known as peas, the dried peas are hulled and split to get the matar dal. This is a very traditional Bengali dal recipe which requires absolutely basic ingredients and just a couple of minutes of time. This can be served with parboiled rice and a vegetable side dish, often comprising of season’s fresh like cauliflower curry (aloo phoolkopir dalna) in winters or say, bottle gourd in the summers.

Peas vs Whole Dried Yellow Peas vs Dried Yellow Split Peas

After the peas are harvested, they are dried and peeled to get whole dried yellow peas. Popularly known as matar ki dal, which makes for a very popular Indian street-food called Matar ke Chole. In Kolkata, it is known as Ghugni.

When these whole dried yellow peas are further split into halves, they are then called as dried yellow split pea dal. Today in this post I will share an easy way of making this yellow split pea dal, also known as matar dal or motor dal.

Ingredients required to make Yellow Split Peas Dal recipe in Bengali style (Motor Dal)

  • Yellow Split Peas Dal or Matar Dal or Motor Dal
  • Wild Celery Seeds or Randhuni in Bengali or Ajmod in Hindi – This is a very uncommon ingredient, often found in Bengali cooking but rarely used elsewhere. Alternate to this would be Panchforon or Bengali mix-spices.
  • Dried Bay Leaves
  • Green Chillies
  • Mustard Oil
  • Salt & Turmeric Powder
  • Sugar

The legume family is quite extensive and Indian cuisine comprises of quite a few many dal recipes whereby using these. It is interesting that Toor Dal or Split Pigeon Peas and Chana Dal or Split Yellow Gram are all referred to as Pea Dals, however, they all belong to different legume families.

Here on my blog, I have a recipe for Bengali style yellow split pea chana dal recipe, very popularly known as Niramish Cholar Dal.
For recipes with yellow split pigeon peas (toor dal), I have two varieties. One is the traditional Bengali way of making Arhar Dal with Panchforon. And the second is in North Indian style, which is Tadke-wali Toor Dal.

In addition, I have a separate post where I have listed all the Indian Dal recipes at one place. You can check it out here.

There are two parts to the cooking method of this vegan yellow split pea dal 1. cooking the dal (yellow split pea) and 2. pan frying the aromatics. These two processes can be done simultaneously.

  1. The best thing you can do for yourself is prepare your food before getting onto the cooking part of this dal recipe. This is called Mise En Place in a professional kitchen.
    Start by measuring all your spices and liquids. Do this per item. It will make it easier to cook your yellow dal recipe. The chop/slice up all the ingredients requiring this ginger, chilli, coriander.
  2. Now start with cooking the dal once you have this in a pot and bubbling away, you can pan fry the aromatics at the same time. Frying the aromatics will finish ahead of the dal. The pan fried spices will be darker once cooked.
  3. Once the dal is completely cooked, it should be goopy, add the aromatics to the yellow split pea and stir through thoroughly. Taste to see if you'd like to adjust the salt.
  4. Serve with freshly chopped coriander/cilantro and enjoy with naan bread or rice. Of course, you can also eat this on its own, it's a very filling meal for either lunch or dinner.

This dal recipe is also perfect as leftovers, I find the flavour to be better infused the next day. Store in a container in your fridge.


This dal is gluten free, vegetarian, egg free, nut free and soy free.

  • Vegan and Dairy Free: Use coconut oil or any other vegetable oil of your choice.
  • Adding a dollop of ghee and/or butter adds a very rich taste to dal. You can make your own brown butter if you don’t have ghee. If you use oil for cooking the dal, then you just need a few teaspoons of ghee or brown butter drizzled on the top for that extra nice taste. Checkout our baklava recipe post for how to make brown butter.
  • Add other finely chopped vegetables to give it a different taste and flavor.
  • Use a combination of yellow lentils to make dal with a different taste and texture.

Ingredients of Yellow Split Pea Dal

  • 1 cup chana dal
  • 2/3 teaspoon turmeric
  • 5 teaspoon refined oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 dash turmeric
  • 5 teaspoon refined oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 halved and broken dry red chili
  • 4 cup water
  • salt as required
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 3 green chilli
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 11 curry leaves

How to make Yellow Split Pea Dal

Step 1 Rinse and soak the chana dal

To make this easy recipe, rinse the chana dal nicely and soak it in a pot full of water for at least 30 minutes or so. Drain the excess water from dal.

Step 2 Pressure cook the chana dal with water and turmeric to soften it

Add the chana dal, water, and two-third teaspoon of turmeric in a pressure cooker. Tighten the lid of the cooker and pressure cook dal until 6 to 7 whistles over a medium heat. Once the chana dal mixture is cooked, turn off the heat and let the pressure go down by itself. Open the lid and stir the mixture with a ladle. The chana dal should be soft by now.

Step 3 Prepare the sauteed mixture and add to the cooked chana dal

Now, preheat 5 tablespoons of refined oil in a flat bottomed frying pan. After the oil is hot enough, add green chili, ginger, and garlic paste to it. Cook over a medium heat. Add chopped onions and tomatoes to the pan and cook until the onions turn translucent and tomatoes turn mushy. Add red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric, and garam masala to the saute mixture and saute for a minute. Now add this sauteed mixture to the cooked chana dal and stir. Add extra water to make a runny consistency of the chana dal mixture. Now, bring the chana dal mixture to boil and then let it simmer for 5 minutes.

Step 4 Make the tempering and pour into the simmering chana dal mixture

To prepare the tempering for dal, heat another 5 teaspoons of refined oil and add mustard seeds. Once they start spluttering, add cumin seeds, curry leaves, and dry red chili. Cook the mixture for half a minute and add to the simmering chana dal mixture. Mix well and turn off the heat.

Spicy yellow moong dal recipe | healthy moong dal | Indian moong dal for weight loss |

spicy yellow moong dal recipe | healthy moong dal | Indian moong dal for weight loss | with 25 amazing images.

spicy yellow moong dal recipe | healthy moong dal | Indian moong dal for weight loss is appealing though it encompasses simplicity. Learn how to make healthy moong dal .

To make spicy yellow moong dal , clean, wash and soak the yellow moong dal in enough water in a deep bowl for 15 minutes. Drain and keep aside. Combine all the ingredients along with the yellow moong dal and 1½ cups of water in a pressure cooker, mix well and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Allow the steam to escape before opening the lid and whisk well. Add ¼ cup of water, mix well and bring to boil. Serve hot.

This Spicy Yellow Moong Dal is so tasty you will want to make it every day, and you can – because it is so simple and easy-to-make. Unlike traditional methods of making dal with a ghee-loaded tempering, this healthy moong dal is made without any oil and yet tastes the same.

Moong Dal is a storehouse of nutrients like protein, iron and folic acid, so you can relish this dal without any guilt of putting on extra kilos and with the satisfaction of providing your body machinery with required nutrients. This Indian moong dal for weight loss is a wise choice for diabetics and heart patients too!

Further the teamwork of onions and tomatoes with basic Indian spices in spicy yellow moong dal produces an excellent mix of flavours and aroma. These vegetables also lend antioxidants, which are necessary compounds to reduce inflammation in the body and keep stress at bay.

Tips for spicy yellow moong dal . 1. Instead of slit green chillies and ginger paste you can also add ginger-green chilli paste. 2. If you are serving the dal later, then add water to adjust the consistency of the dal before reheating and serving. 3. This is a zero oil dal, but if you wish you can give a tempering of cumin seeds in a tsp of oil after the dal is cooked. 4. You can buy readymade garam masala or make garam masala at home.

Learn how to make spicy yellow moong dal recipe | healthy moong dal | Indian moong dal for weight loss | with step by step photos.

Recipe Keywords

1. Sort through the split peas to remove any debris and then rinse the peas thoroughly under cold water. Add the split peas and 4 cups of water to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until peas are tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Drain the peas of excess water and set aside.

2. While your peas cook prepare your rice: Rinse the rice thoroughly under cold water several times until the water coming off the rice is clear and no longer cloudy. Add the rice and 1 1/2 cups water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. When it begins to boil cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes (DO NOT REMOVE THE LID DURING THIS TIME). Take the pan off the heat and let the rice rest with the lid on for 10 more minutes (DO NOT REMOVE THE LID DURING THIS TIME EITHER).

3. Heat the ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and toast, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 10 seconds.

4. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno to the pan and cook, stirring often, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

5. Add the turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, the tomatoes, and 1 cup of water to the pan. Stir the split peas in with the tomato mixture and bring to a boil.

6. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is gone, about 10 to 15 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

7. When the rice is done remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Serve the split peas over the rice.