Pakistani Dal (Spicy Split Peas and Lentil Stew)

There are lots of recipes for dal (it just means beans), but this is one of my favorites. It is a little bit spicy as written; if you don’t like it spicy, use less hot pepper (but don’t leave it out altogether or it will be bland).

I don’t have exact amounts here because I was taught to make this by a former boss’s mother when I was in high school, and she taught me to do it by feel/eye. I haven’t gone through and measured everything exactly… if people are interested then the next time I make this I will measure the beans and the water as well as note the exact cooking time.

You want to use yellow split peas and not green split peas, and red lentils and not brown lentils, or this will be a really unappetizing color.

About 2 cups yellow split peas
About 2 cups red lentils
About 1 cup olive oil
8-10 cloves of garlic (depending on size)
1 small green hot pepper, seeds removed and chopped small (1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp ground red pepper
1 Tbsp cumin seeds

Soak peas and lentils for about 10 hours (covered with water and with whey added). Drain and rinse. Put into a 8-10 quart pot, and cover with water (fill it maybe a half inch over the beans). Crush half the garlic and add it to the pot with the hot pepper, ground red pepper, and cumin seeds. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered or uncovered, until peas are cooked (they cook slower than the lentils), maybe an hour and a half. (I was taught to cook them uncovered, but they will cook faster covered and it saves energy). Continue adding water as needed, and stir frequently so they do not stick to the bottom of the pot.

Meanwhile, slice remaining garlic and heat it in the olive oil on low heat, until garlic is lightly browned. Turn off heat.

When beans are cooked, remove garlic from oil with slotted spoon and discard. Stir garlic-infused oil into the pot.

This can be served as a main dish (like a thick stew) with roti or as a side dish with curried chicken and rice pilaf.

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