This flavorful and warming Afghan-inspired split pea dal is made with creamy yellow split peas simmered in ginger and warming spices. A comforting vegan meal that’s easy enough for a weeknight!
Dal is one of my favorite easy meal varieties. It’s generally pretty simple to throw together, pretty healthy, and nearly always delicious!
In the past when I thought of dal my brain always went immediately to lentils, because that’s the main ingredient in most dals. But you know what else makes an excellent dal? Split peas! Specifically, yellow split peas.
Split peas cook up a lot like red lentils and the texture ends up being great for a dal recipe. Yellow split peas differ a bit from green spit peas. Their flavor is a bit more earthy and a tad less sweet. They taste less like…well, peas.
This particular split pea dal recipe is something I created in an attempt to replicate a delicious dish I had at an Afghan restaurant. It’s super simple to make, but you’ll need to get your hands on some whole cloves and a cinnamon stick — trust me, the flavor will be SO much better than if you stick with ground spices.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Olive oil. Feel free to substitute another high-heat oil, such as coconut, avocado or vegetable oil.
- Fresh ginger.
- Ground cumin.
- Ground turmeric.
- Dried yellow split peas. Look for these near the dried beans at the store.
- Vegetable broth.
- Whole cloves. Most supermarkets sell whole cloves in the spice aisle. Could you substitute ground cloves? Probably, but the flavor of your dal won’t be as good.
- Cinnamon stick. Again, you can usually find whole cinnamon sticks in the spice aisle, and it’s totally worth getting them for this recipe. If you can’t find them at the regular grocery store, try an Asian market or buy them online.
- Lemon juice. Use freshly squeezed juice to give your dal the best flavor.
- Sambal oelek. Obviously this isn’t an authentic ingredient in Afghan dal, but it’s an easy way to add heat, so it’s what I use. Feel free to substitute a hot pepper or your favorite hot sauce, or leave it out for a milder version of the dish.
- Salt & pepper.
- Fresh cilantro.
- Cooked basmati rice. This is my favorite accompaniment for yellow split pea dal, but you could serve it with another grain such as quinoa, or even bread.
How It’s Made
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!
- Heat the oil in a large pot, then add diced onion. Sweat the onion for a few minutes, stirring it often, until it begins to soften up.
- Stir in the garlic, ginger, cumin, and turmeric. Sauté everything for a few minutes, until the mixture becomes very fragrant.
- Stir in the split peas, broth, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Raise the heat and bring the broth to a simmer.
- Lower the heat and let the dal cook, giving it a stir every so often and adding water to the pot as it dries up.
Tip: Keep a container of hot water nearby so you can add it to the dal as it cooks without bringing down the temperature. A tea kettle works great for this because you can keep heating it up!
- Be patient and give the yellow split peas plenty of time to soften up — it can take a while! Mine generally cook in an hour, but give them up to an hour and a half if needed.
- Remove the pot from heat when the dal has finished simmering. Stir in the lemon juice and season your yellow split pea dal with salt, pepper, and sambal oelek. Remove the cinnamon stick from the pot. You can take the cloves out to if preferred, but I like to leave them in for little bursts of flavor.
- Serve your yellow split pea dal over rice with a sprinkle of cilantro on top.
Leftovers & Storage
Leftover yellow split pea dal will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about 4 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can! The flavor will be a bit different, but it will still be delicious.
The first thing to check is that you’ve got enough water in the pot. You might end up adding several cups of water while the dal cooks. You don’t want too much, but you at least want all the peas to be covered. Also check the date on your package of peas, if there is one. If they’re old they might not soften up.
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Yellow Split Pea Dal
This flavorful and warming Afghan-inspired yellow split pea dal is made with creamy yellow split peas simmered in ginger and warming spices.
freshly grated ginger
dried yellow split peas
or to taste
Salt and pepper,
Fresh cilantro leaves,
Cooked basmati rice,
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in large pot. When the oil is hot, add the onion.
Sweat the until soft and translucent, about five minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in the garlic, ginger, cumin and turmeric. Sauté everything for about 1 minute, until very fragrant, stirring constantly to prevent anything from burning.
Stir in the peas, broth, cinnamon stick and cloves. Raise the heat and bring the broth to a boil.
Lower the heat, cover and allow the dal to simmer for about one hour (Note 1), stirring occasionally. Add hot water to the pot as the liquid dries up. (Note 2)
Remove the pot from heat and stir in the lemon juice, sambal oelek, salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls and serve with rice and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
- It can take up to an hour and a half for the peas to totally soften up, depending on a number of factors such as how old they are, how much water is in the pot, and how soft you like them. Be patient!
- Make sure the lentils are just covered with water at all times. I like to fill a kettle with a quart of water and keep it hot so I’ve always got hot water nearby when needed.
- This recipe makes about 3 cups of dal.
Yellow Split Pea Dal
Amount Per Serving (0.75 cups)
Calories from Fat 42
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 0.7g4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.