Introduction: Indian Yellow Split Pea Soup (Dal)

Try a new take on the split pea soup with yellow split peas flavored with garlic and cumin. This is an Indian staple but this particular recipe is from Trinidad where we puree the lentils and usually serve it over rice. It's called dal and it's a great introduction into Indian cooking.   

Step 1: Ingredients

You will need: 

1 cup (8 oz) of yellow split peas (dal)
4 cups (32 oz or about 1L) of water
2-3 cloves of garlic, cracked or halved
1 teaspoon of turmeric
dash of vegetable oil to prevent boil over

2-3 cloves of garlic, cracked or halved
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Salt to taste

At least a 2 qt pot
Bowl to wash the split peas
Blender, immersion blender or potato masher in a pinch
Frying pan

Step 2: Cook

1. Wash the yellow split peas in a bowl with running water to remove the dust. The water should be fairly clear after stirring the peas and rinsing a couple times. Drain the peas.

2. Put the yellow split peas, water, garlic cloves and turmeric in a pot and bring to a boil. 

3. Add a dash of vegetable oil to the water to prevent a spillover and lower the heat to a medium/medium-low. 

4. Check the soup after 30-40 mins; the split peas should be soft and broken-looking. If they have hard bits, they need to cook longer. Depending on the temperature, you may need to add a cup or 2 more of water to the pot so that the peas have at least 2 inches of water covering them. 

Step 3: Finish the Soup

To finish the dal soup, you have to puree it. The consistency is entirely up to you and you can add more water if desired. For best results, use an immersion blender or blender. Traditionally, we use this stick with wire loops on it to swizzle it in order to break up the dal or a wooden stick with a flat round wheel to mash the dal. There's a picture of the swizzle stick below. You can also use a potato masher if you have none of the above, but it will take you longer. 

For the garnish, you will fry garlic and cumin in the vegetable oil and add it directly to the dal soup. Many Indian dishes are finished this way and it adds a ton of flavor. 

1. Put the oil in the frying pan and heat it on high.

2. Place the cracked garlic cloves in the oil and fry until dark golden brown, flipping the cloves to fry on both sides.

3. Add the cumin seeds last, and let them just get golden brown (this will take just a few seconds, so don't look away)

4. Pour the contents of the frying pan into the soup and then stir after the oil has stopped bubbling.

Please be careful with the hot oil! 

Your beautiful soup is now ready! You can serve it over steamed white rice or eat it plain. It serves about 3 hungry people or 6 as a side dish. The recipe is easily doubled.  When refrigerating leftovers, the dal can thicken and you just need to add a little water when reheating. Enjoy!

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