Tanty Elmina’s Dhal (Trinidadian Yellow Split Peas)

Dhal shown with roti. Serve by itself or with rice or your favorite curry. I suggest eating with clean fingers!

Dhal shown with roti. Serve by itself or with rice or your favorite curry. I suggest eating with clean fingers!

Dhal  (also spelled dal or daal)  is dried lentils or peas that are prepared into a thick stew like soup. It can be eaten by itself, with rice, roti, or as an accompaniment. I often serve dhal  with curry chicken or saltfish buljol.  Dhal is a great source of protein and contains no meat or animal products. Therefore, this is vegetarian and vegan friendly. When making dhal, it requires you to do something called chunkaying. This recipe is simple but for the intensity of the flavors you must not only chunkay the dhal, but also pull out your mortar and pestle for fresh ground roasted geera (cumin). Or you can buy ground roasted cumin, but trust me, it will not be the same.

For an “authentic” experience eat dhal with clean hands using your fingers. This is the one time I will suggest forgoing proper “western etiquette.” Eating dhal and rice with your fingers is as real as it gets. We eat this meal at least once a month. This is truly a “Trini to di bone” recipe.

 

Ingredients 

2 cups yellow split peas

7 cups water

2 teaspoons ground turmeric powder

6 cloves of garlic sliced thinly

1/4 yellow onion minced

1/2 tablespoon cumin/geera seeds

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 whole habanero/ scotch bonnet pepper

2 pinches of salt

Geera Seeds, Turmeric Powder, Dhal, Garlic, Onion, Scotch Bonnet Pepper and a Mortar & Pestle

Geera Seeds, Turmeric Powder, Dhal, Garlic, Onion, Scotch Bonnet Pepper and a Mortar & Pestle

Directions

In a large bowl place split peas. Cover with water. Remove debris using your hands. Water will be cloudy. Pour water off of peas. Repeat until water is no longer cloudy/appears clear. I usually have to rinse my peas 5 times.

Water is still cloudy in this photo. Rinse until clear.

Water is still cloudy in this photo. Rinse until clear.

Bring 7 cups of water to boil in heavy calderno or heavy pot. Add peas, turmeric, 1/2 of sliced garlic, and whole habanero pepper. Boil for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to medium-low and cook for one hour with pot covered. After an hour remove top and cook for another 20-30 minutes or until water is reduced by half.

Meanwhile, place a sauce pan on the stove and turn eye to medium-high heat. Once pan is hot, place geera (cumin seeds) in sauce pan. Do not allow seeds to burn. As soon as they begin to “pop” or dance around the pan, remove sauce pan from heat and pour seeds directly into your mortar and pestle . Grind seeds until smooth (the aroma will be AMAZING).

Roast seeds in dry pan, grind using mortar & pestle, add to hot oil prior to chunkaying

Roast seeds in dry pan, grind using mortar & pestle, add to hot oil prior to chunkaying

Remove habanero from pot, but DO NOT discard. With an immersion stick/hand blender blend peas for 1 minute (I often simply remove one cup of peas and blend in my blender and then return them to the put with remaining peas. This creates dhal that is smooth but still has some texture).

Allow sauce pan to cool and add olive oil. Turn to high temperature. Once oil is hot add 1/4 onion, garlic, and ground geera (cumin) to oil. Allow to cook for 1 minute. Then CAREFULLY pour oil mixture directly into split peas. Be very careful when doing this for oil will be extremely hot. <——- This is called chunkaying  Pronounced “chunking”.

Mix oil mixture and peas very well and add salt. Taste. Add more salt if needed. Leave on low heat.

Serve over rice or the items mentioned above.

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Tanty Elmina’s Dhal (Trinidadian Yellow Split Peas)

  1. I have never tried dhal, but I am always looking for ways to enjoy meatless meals. This is also a great recipe to introduce the kids to other cultures through food, which we love to do!

    • Most of all it is healthy! I struggle with finding foods that are full of flavor and healthy. Well this is it! No need for meat. BTW when introducing to children, you can share that Hindus eat this too. So it combines ethnic cultures and religion/faith.

  2. Yassss I can’t wait to try and make this. My grandfather is the only Trini of the family in DC. He doesn’t cook as much so I can’t wait to make him something from home for him.

  3. Pingback: Lover’s Curry Chicken (a la Lauryn) | ebullientepicurean

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