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A staple in Indian cuisine, and soon-to-be in your household too. Are you ready to make an Indian-style yellow split pea dal in an approachable way without a laundry list of spices?
Come learn this meal step-by-step where we make cooking fun and easy to do!
Table of Contents
There is no doubt in our minds that Indian cuisine is in our top 3 favorites. Not only does Indian food taste delicious, but the culture is fascinating, beautiful, and unique. It’s sad to say we were supposed to be living in India by now, but our move was postponed because of the pandemic. So, this meal is a little taste of the place we hope to see one day.
Our dal recipe is simple, spicy, and packed full of authentic flavors that will keep you coming back for more. It’s delicious freshly cooked, or eaten as leftovers throughout the week. The flavors meld together so nicely the longer they sit (we’re drooling just talking about this).
Indian cooking can seem intimidating for many people, which is why we tried to make this recipe as simple as possible. The Broke Bank Vegan motto is to make food approachable and budget-friendly. We picked the most effective spices to bring out the best in this dish.
Rest assured, it’s all 100% vegan, gluten-free, high in protein and fiber, easy to make, and will be one of your next staple dinners!
🍲 Key ingredients
- Yellow split peas: if you haven’t cooked with split peas before, fear not. It’s really easy! We love them for their high protein content (16g/cup) and high fiber content (also 16g/cup). Once cooked, split peas become tender, creamy, and slightly sweet. Perfect to counter the fiery Indian spice.
- Cumin: made from the dried seed of a plant and a member of the parsley family, cumin is well known as one of the more classic Indian spices in the Western world. But, did you know it’s widely used in the Middle East, Latin America, and Northern Africa? Cumin lends a warm, earthy flavor, but also a bit of sweetness and bitterness.
- Onion: this is a staple in Indian cooking! you’ll be hard-pressed to find an Indian meal that has an absence of onion. Also, there’s nothing better than the smell of onions sautéing in a pan. They’re intense in taste, but become sweet as they cook.
- Garlic: another key ingredient in Indian cooking is garlic. We love adding it to pretty much everything, which is one reason we’re attracted to Indian cuisine. When it comes to garlic, the more the better in our opinions! Ayurvedic medicine, commonly practiced in India, recognizes garlic for it’s healing properties, specifically when it comes to blood purification.
First of all, soak your peas in water overnight, or for at least 1 hour if possible. Soaking them will help shorten the overall cooking time! Next, you’ll need to rinse and drain those bad boys and set them aside for later.
Then, in a large pot, heat some coconut oil over medium. Throw in your diced onions and sauté for a few minutes, or until they turn translucent.
Add in garlic and ginger, and sauté for a little longer. Time for spices. Add some cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and tomato paste to the pot and wait for your house to smell amazing.
Once the spices are fragrant, add in coconut milk, vegetable broth or water, and split peas to the pot. Bring everything to a low boil, then cover the pot and let it simmer.
Cook your dal for about 50-60 minutes more, stirring occasionally until the peas are cooked to your preference. If the dal appears dry, mix water in 1/4 cup at a time. Note: just be aware some split peas take longer to cook than others.
When the peas are tender, mix in spinach, garam masala, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat off and cover the pot to allow spinach to wilt a little.
Taste and adjust spices as needed, adding cayenne for more heat, garam masala for sweet spice, or salt to bring the other flavors out. Serve this split pea dal with a side of basmati rice, cilantro, roti, or lime wedges!
This meal will store well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. You can also portion meals out and freeze them for up to 6 months! Just make sure to let the dal completely cool before putting it in the fridge or freezer.
💭 Budget tips
We think everyone should be able to eat better for less, so here are a few tricks to make this recipe even more affordable:
- Replace the coconut oil with cheaper vegetable oil of your choosing
- Serve with more rice to make the dal last longer
- Use water to cook instead of vegetable broth
🍴 Tasting notes
This yellow split pea dal comes together with minimal effort, but you’d never guess it. It’s:
If you try this dal, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Yellow Split Pea Dal (Matar Dal)
- Large pot
- Chef knife
- Large bowl for soaking
- 2 tbsp coconut oil ($0.24)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced ($0.24)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced ($0.20)
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced ($0.03)
- 1 tbsp cumin ($0.03)
- ½ tbsp coriander ($0.02)
- 1 tsp turmeric ($0.01)
- ½ tsp cayenne ($0.04)
- 3 tbsp tomato paste ($0.24)
- 2 cups yellow split peas, uncooked ($0.65)
- 4-5 cups vegetable broth or water ($0.99)
- ½ cup full-fat coconut milk ($0.27)
- 2 tsp garam masala ($0.07)
- Salt & pepper to taste ($0.02)
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 2-3 cups cooked rice of choice
- Lime wedges
- Soak dry split peas in water overnight*, or for at least 1 hour if possible. Then, rinse thoroughly and drain the peas. Set aside.
- In a large pot, heat coconut oil over medium. Once heated, add in diced onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until turning translucent (but not browning).
- Next, add in garlic and ginger, and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Then, add cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and tomato paste. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Once the spices are fragrant, add coconut milk, vegetable broth or water (start with 4 cups), and split peas to the pot, mixing well. Bring to a low boil, then cover with a lid and reduce heat to simmer.
- Cook for approximately 50-60 minutes more, stirring occasionally until the peas are cooked to your preference. If the dal appears dry, mix water in ¼ cup at a time.
- When the peas are tender, mix in spinach, garam masala, salt & pepper. Turn the heat off and cover the pot to allow spinach to wilt a little. Taste and adjust spices as needed, adding cayenne for more heat, garam masala for sweet spice, or salt to bring the other flavors out.
- Serve this split pea dal with a side of basmati rice, cilantro, roti, or lime wedges. Store leftovers in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 3-4 days.
- The longer you soak your split peas, the less water and time you will need to cook them. We highly recommend soaking them overnight! Prep time does not include overnight soaking.
- Optional ingredients are not included in the price or calories of this recipe.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more South Asian inspired dishes, check out our:
- Baingan bharta for a smoky take on eggplant.
- Vegan red lentil dahl to find out which legume you prefer this meal with!
- Easy chana masala because no one should ever go without trying this at least once.
- Vegan lentil patties for a crispy, protein-packed snack.
- Curried chickpea salad to take with you on-the-go!
If you don’t have split peas, you can also make this recipe with red lentils. Note: the cooking time will be significantly reduced, and the liquid required will also be different.
No, you do not have to use coconut milk. Although it makes this dal creamier, the coconut milk can be replaced 1:1 with vegetable broth or water.
If your split peas seem like they are not cooking, you’ll need to just keep simmering the dal while adding in water 1/4 cup at a time to keep it from drying out.
Delicious! Lovely blend of spices!
Thank you! 🙂 It’s one of our favorites!
This recipe has lots of amazing flavour – and had a perfect kick for my liking. Hold the cayenne if making for a non-spicy crowd!
I forgot to soak my split peas so I made this in my instant pot! Sautéed everything up in there and then added everything up to step 5. I cooked it on high pressure for 10 min and then let it naturally release. Might have been a little too long as the peas didn’t have much shape at all. Would suggest 8-9 minutes and let it naturally release for 10, then release the pressure. It still came out amazing and was great with a squeeze of lime, cilantro and rice!!