and-then-i-moved-into-the-refrigerator Recipes

everyday yellow dal

I spent the summer in Israel when I was 15 years old, and while I know I did all of the expected stuff–day trips, stays at hostels and kibbutz, the big cities and the desert–one of the things that stands out most clearly in my memory is something sort of random–the way the Israeli kids dressed on hot days: black jeans and often long-sleeved shirts. I’d look at them, so covered, so dark, and want to scream. “Don’t you know how HOT it is here? I’m melting in my Tevas and tank top and you’re there wrapped as tight as you can in WINTER clothes.” Clearly this penchant for melodrama isn’t a recent phenomenon.

yellow split peas

I feel the same way on days like we’ve had this week, when the air is so oppressively thick and stagnant (seriously, I think the breath I left on our front step last night greeted me there this morning) and I see people, probably dressed for important jobs in aggressively air-conditioned offices in these woolen suit layers and shoes with covered toes and sleeves (fine, I’m talking about Alex) and I want to melt for them at the thought of having to walk more than a block in such a getup. My Eastern European genes are inconsolable in this swelter, thus if you need us we’ll be over in the corner, hugging it out with the a/c this weather stops being such a brat.

these get minced

And what to eat? If common sense demands cold food, fresh fruit, raw vegetables, why am I craving Indian food? All jokes about my lack of sense aside, why do I only want thick, spicy curries? How can I crave dal when it’s 95 immobile rain-longing degrees out? But maybe this has more to do with the denim-clad Israeli kids than I think: we all handle the heat differently, and they chose to cover their skin rather than expose it to the sun’s teeth. I had a Vietnamese friend in college that used to drag me out McLean, Virginia on hot days for some pho, which along with the soothing sweetened iced coffee, he considered the only proper cure for heat exhaustion, and I have to admit, it worked like a charm. If any culture has down what to eat when it’s hotter than a monkey’s butt outside (I say this theoretically, of course), it’s gotta be India.

black-eyed peas everyday yellow dal

Seriously, don’t knock it until you try it. Despite the fact that you’re actually cooking with heat when there more than enough to go around, there is something immensely satisfying about eating spicy, wholesome food when all the ice cubes in the world aren’t cutting it. I grabbed these recipes from a San Francisco Chronicle about pairing wine with Indian food a few weeks ago, and–so unlike me–tried them without giving any thought to whether they’d work or not. My leap of faith was duly rewarded, as the Everyday Yellow Dal is going right into the recipe folder, next to the Red Split Lentils and Cauliflower and Potatoes. The Black-Eyed Peas, which I was most dubious about as I don’t really dig coconut milk outside the realm of dessert, were also delicious despite my nagging feeling that might not actually like these vaulted peas. And the salad, slaw really, is exactly what’s been missing from my Indian recipe battery–something crunchy, raw and complementary to these hearty dishes. It’s kind of a gateway drug to summer dals, refreshing in a way that my lunch of cold salad and raw fruit never is. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Tangy Shredded Cabbage Salad
Adapted from Ruta Kahate via, 6/8/07

Revisiting this in March 2013 minus the chile (3 year-old accommodation) we were reminded of how much we adore those toasted mustard seeds. When they pop, they smell and taste like popcorn. It’s incredible, and it was so lovely to have a salad component to an Indian meal.

Serves 4

2 cups tightly packed, shredded green cabbage (use the large holes of a grater)
1 small serrano chile, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more as needed
1/4 to 1/2 to 1 teaspoon table salt (adjusted from 1 tsp. as a few commenters found it too salty)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Instructions: In a medium bowl, toss together the cabbage, chile, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You are looking for a well-balanced, sweet and sour taste.

Heat the oil in a small skillet or butter warmer over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds, covering the pan with a lid or splatter screen. When seeds top popping, immediately pour the oil over the cabbage salad and toss well. Let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes before serving, to allow the flavors to blossom.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

Everyday Yellow Dal
Adapted from Ruta Kahate via, 6/8/07

Serves 4

1 cup yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
1 large tomato (about 8 ounces), cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, finely ground
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (I used 1/4, thought it was plenty, although I may be a wuss.)
1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves (I abhor cilantro, and always replace it with flat-leaf parsley.)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt

Instructions: Drain the dal (split peas) and place in a large saucepan. Add the tomato and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until peas are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Pick out any tomato skins and whisk dal to emulsify it. Keep warm over very low heat.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the cumin seeds, covering the pan with a lid or splatter screen. After the seeds have stopped sputtering, add the onion and saute over medium heat. About 3 minutes later, add the garlic and saute until most of the onion has turned dark brown, about 5 minutes altogether. Add the coriander, turmeric and cayenne, stir and pour mixture over the dal. Add the cilantro, butter and salt to the dal and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Black-Eyed Peas in a Spicy Goan Curry
Adapted from Ruta Kahate via, 6/8/07

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup dried black-eyed peas or two 15-ounce cans, drained
2 tablespoons, canola oil
1 small yellow onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, finely ground
1/2 teaspoon finely grated garlic (about 1 large clove)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated ginger (about a 1-inch piece)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (I always start with the half the suggested cayenne, and then decide if it needs more. Mine didn’t.)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, finely ground
1/4 cup minced tomato (1 small tomato)
2 cups (or 1 cup if using canned peas) hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste if using canned peas
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice

If using dried black-eyed peas, rinse and soak them in enough water to cover for 6 to 8 hours. Drain.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat and saute the onion until it turns dark brown, about 8 minutes. Add the coriander, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne and cumin, and stir for 2 minutes. Add the tomato and stir over low heat until it disintegrates.

Add the peas and mix well. Pour in the hot water, if using, add the salt and sugar, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer until the peas are cooked through, about 20 minutes. If using canned peas, simmer for only 10 minutes (it is essential to simmer the canned peas, too, so that all the flavors blend better). Stir in the coconut milk and simmer uncovered for another 8 to 10 minutes, again allowing the flavors to come together.

Add the cilantro and lemon juice, simmer for 1 minute more, and remove from heat. Serve hot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

150 comments on everyday yellow dal

  1. What’s a kibbutz exactly? I only have a half baked memory from that show The Nanny, and Fran Dresner says it’s just hot Isreali guys everywhere. Or at least I only remember the good part! aha ha ha

    Anyway, food looks good. See you tonight!

  2. on the hottest of days, i will want soup or to make a big pot of my chili. i don’t know why. i don’t want ice cream in the summer but i do in the winter. i just thought my thermostat was broken.

  3. These dishes look delicious! I’ve actually read that eating spicy food on hot days is a well known traditional way to actually cool the body off. I don’t recall the science of it, or the details really, but it has something to do with internal regulation of body temperature that adjusts the feeling of how humid it feels externally. Does that make sense? I’m sorry if it doesn’t…. Just know you are doing the right thing!

    Also, congrats on winning the contest! I wanted to vote but found this blog on the day the votes ended. You are inspiration to my lil blog and I love reading your site now, daily. Keep on keepin’ on!

  4. You’re so right about the Indian food; I like it extra spicy in the summer. I might like the Goan curry better with chickpeas than with the black eyed peas, what do you think? Also, I have a Madhur Jaffrey recipe for a carrot salad that is almost exactly the same as your cabbage, I think I’ll try it with the cabbage, but people not liking the slaw might like it better swapped with shredded carrots. BTW, your new lens is giving us some awfully good eye candy.

  5. I think the spicy food on hot days thing has to do with the fact that the spices simulate heat and stimulate your body’s response to heat–sweating, sending blood to the surface of the skin and so on–so it can actually cool you off, even though it seems counter-intuitive. I think I remember reading that sometimes eating cold foods can stimulate your body’s attempts to warm up, so cold things don’t always succeed at cooling you off. (I’m not sure if any of this is real science, or if I made it up because it sounded good at the time. Either way, it kind of makes sense to me, anyway.) Your food looks marvelous, as usual.

  6. i completely understand this hot in heat phenomenon: it has been 95+ in DC this whole week, and all i’ve been craving is a pot of soup!

    ps, i hate cilantro too and everybody thinks i’m crazy.

  7. This looks fabulous, I love Indian food and you don’t seem crazy to me… well maybe the cooking over a hot stuff part – but certainly not the eating spicy food. I am all over that on a hot day.

    I was wondering did you have to babysit the dal while it cooked? I have only made dahl once but I found if I wasn’t really careful it was apt to burn on the bottom.

  8. It is not crazy, while I am no scientist but perhaps eating hot food makes your body start a cooling process [not to mention if you heat really hot food and sweat and by ingesting very cold foods, your body will then want to warm itself.

    Ok, I just read Elizabeth’s answer…so yes, I agree with her…

    Everyone thinks I’m crazy for eating hot foods in the summer.

    By the way, beautiful photos and site.

  9. A couple comments today –
    First, did anyone else notice that in the picture of the split peas, Deb’s new and oh-so-amazing lens/talent caught with impeccable clarity the tiny bubbles of gas the peas were giving off in the water?!? That’s SO COOL!
    Second, it’s a proven scientific fact that spicy food cool the body. Now if only I could remember what source to reference to back up all my fancy pants science talk. Anyway, it’s true.
    Third, I’d adore some indian food right now but can’t bring myself to light the stove right now, for fear I melt into a puddle on my already way too mysteriously sticky kitchen floor.
    Perhaps tomorrow will be cooler….

  10. I’ve so been craving Indian food lately (I’ve recently moved back to my small, hometown–and away from a favorite Indian place). So, thanks. Instead of jumping into my untested Indian cookbook, I’ll plan on trying these! I think there might be magic to spicy, hot meals on warm days.

  11. I too (like Farah) have had soup a handful of times here in steamy, steamy FLA and I third, or fourth or whatever it is – the distate for cilantro.
    But that salad – looks refreshing and crunchy (of course with a bowl of soup!)

  12. mais non, c’est pas vrai! In other words, how did you know? We are moving to Geneva in a month and it’s my goal to eat all of the nonperishables in the house so that a) i don’t have to buy so much food this month b) we don’t have to carry them to a new kitchen.
    I looked this afternoon, and in the bean shelf I have left, black eyed peas and yellow split peas and not a clue – NOT A CLUE – what to do with them. And then you appeared, magical mystery of a food blogger, and solved my problem in one fell swoop. may I send you a swiss chocolate bar? this is fantastique!

  13. Yum, I think I’m going to have to make the potatoes and cauliflower dish again soon, the everyday would go with it well. And the cabbage salad, Yum! Now, if I can get the Indian restaurant give me the recipe for their pistachio na’an, all will be right with the world. (BTW, Pistachio na’an is bread crack – so good!)

  14. Jim

    Huh! I never would have considered using spicy food to beat the heat (especially in the nightmarishly hot Chicago), but now I’ll be looking for an Indian restaurant on my lunch break.

  15. Santadad

    Jessica – I am one of the two people responsible for Deb being here … sorta in a way. Anyway, you can send the swiss chocolate bar to me! :-)

  16. joylynn

    Deb, I was looking for new Indian recipes & these look so yummy! This weekend looks like a great time to try them out.

    Jessica, (commenter # 14) I am buying those molds you linked to at this moment. So adorable and perfect for a party we are having in July.

  17. dan

    I come from the caribbean – and we always soup or eat spicy food when its super hot outside b/c it makes you sweat and sweat is your body’s way of cooling off- so you’re not nuts

  18. I agree with everything you stated here! Having grown up in Arizona, I dislike direct sunlight, but I despise humidity. Maybe it’s that spice make you sweat, but I also start craving spicy food when it gets hot (and I crave creamy, dull, dairy filled foods when it’s cold).

    Also, a product suggestion for this hot weather, or for Indian dishes. I am completely, entirely in love with Trader Joe’s pre-cooked, vacuum sealed lentils locatable in the fridge section by the fresh veggies. The ingredient list is “lentils and natural seasonings”, and they are amazing – hot, cold, with any flavor you can imagine, whatever… even cold without seasoning. No boiling required.

  19. Yum. I wish my husband was into lentils. I can’t believe you hate cilantro! I made salsa this weekend, with boatloads of lime and cilantro, and it is so good I was swooning. But that also could be because I am a sissy and I always make my salsa too spicy for myself, not spicy enough for the husband (who can eat habaneros plain without wincing).

  20. Tea

    I share your violent dislike of heat (must be the Eastern European lineage). I lived in Asia for five years, where summers are a humid hell (worse than NY, I think, though when you’re in a humid NY summer it doesn’t seem like that could be possible). Most afternoons I lay down on the floor in front of the fan and begged whatever friend was around to “just kill me now!”

    Perhaps I should have tried Indian food instead?:-)

  21. Michael

    Sweat is natural air conditioning! Thats why we sweat when we excercise, and get overheated. Eating spicy foods causes us to sweat. That is why the hottest regions of the world tend to also have the spiciest foods. Eating them counter-intuitively served to cool off the people in their hot weater!

  22. Gorgeous! Have you read The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (I think I have the name right)? You mentioning dal reminds me of the book. I just finished it–wonderful. (And your towering strawberry cake from a few days ago makes my mouth water.)

  23. deb

    Joc — Kibbutz are collective farms communal living groups in Israel, though a lot of them have gotten away from farming. Apparently, they account for about 2 percent of the population. Israeli guys are indeed hot.

    candy — I LOVE chili in the summer. And a couple weeks ago, when I had the great honor of meeting Shuna from Eggbeater, she ordered cabbage soup at Veselka and I couldn’t bring myself to because it was so hot out, and I’ve craved it INCESSANTLY since. I’ll report when I finally get my own bowl–it’s worth raving about.

    miss mangia — I think it makes sense. Whenever I eat highly-spiced Indian foods, summer or not, I always feel kind of fuzzy and calm afterward. (I swear, it’s not just the gin.) It seems amplified in the summer.

    Mary — I might, but for chickpeas, I’m still trying to get the perfect chana masala recipe down. (Though I loved Orangette’s Brandon’s one I made a while back.) I think I’ll always pick a tomato-y sauce over coconut milk, but I can’t imagine that chickpeas, or even kidney beans wouldn’t make an excellent swap.

    Maura — Oh, it’s so not you. I swear, it’s something genetic. Most people think it’s great, and the rest think it tastes like tinny dirt, n’er between the two seem to meet. People who love cilantro do not get that to others it tastes putrid, and vice-versa. Fortunately, I’ve found that flat-leaf parsley is a perfect swap.

    Farah — Cilantro-haters unite! It really doesn’t bug me that I don’t like it so much as I am bugged by people who think I’m crazy, because I know I don’t taste what they do. Ah, well.

    Katerina — Let’s see, I still have non-stick pans so I don’t have to worry as much about burning on the bottom but still, I don’t go that far from the pot once they start thickening up.

    Tara — I am just not loving the breads, noodles and rice over the summer, I have to admit. We often toast up some naan with dals, but weren’t feeling it at all.

    Jessica — Those are adorable! (But they scream “clutter!” I confess. But cute clutter!)

    jessica — Geneva! What a cool reason to clean out the kitchen. You don’t need to send me any Swiss chocolate bar, but my father, a few comments below, might disagree. ;)

    Jenifer from Houston — Pistachio naan sounds awesome. We need to get Tabla on that! (Though their rosemary, sourdough and mustard seed versions are none too shabby themselves. Mm, ghee and sea salt…)

    Rachael — That sounds great. I’m going to add those lentils to my thousand-long list of things to try if I ever make it the nine whole blocks to Traders Joes. Tsk-tsk, I know. Oh, and macro lens! We’re in LUV.

    Recovering Overachiever — We used to go to this place called Pho 75. I believe it cost $4.75. We thought that was brilliant.

    Lauren — I did, and I loved it. I loved the movie, too. Also her first book. Me, obsessed? No, not at all.

  24. Jelena

    Despite being from Eastern Europe, I don’t really mind warm temperatures. However, humid and hot and please-kill-me-I-can’t-bear-it-anymore is no fun at all. My cure for it is Iced Cappucinos (from a chain of coffee shops in Canada called Tim Hortons, they’re everywhere in Canada and probably the national symbol after beavers and maple leafs). Thankfully, it’s cooled down a bit here in Southern Ontario, so I’ll try to send the breeze your way.
    Indian food sounds so great right now, your curry and dal look amazing. :)

  25. jennac

    yup im indian, my mom feeds us all spicy food in the summer because it promotes cooling. no idea how that works but its traditional. those beans look soooooooo good btw.

  26. deb

    Good point! I forgot to mention how blown away we consistently are with our grocery bills when we cook Indian food. I think this one was $10, and it fed us for two days. Once you’ve bought four or six spices, you’re set for an indefinite amount of budget, healthy meals.

  27. akaellen

    i tried the dal this weekend. I used the full amount of chile powder but maybe mine has outlived its spiciness in my spice cabinet b/c i could have used more kick in the dal. I alos used the dreaded cilantro….

  28. Indian flavors and legumes, my favorite combination! Looks fan-flippin-tastic.
    I’m digging my dried black eyed peas out of the pantry right now…

  29. You’ve defined my pantry . . . can’t wait to make this! I swear, by the way, your photos are getting better and better. I thought of you leafing through the July Gourmet, as I was drooling over the gorgeous photo spreads.


  30. Nicole

    deb– what is the white stuff in the middle of the picture. looks like a yummy cool relief, but I am not familiar enough with indian fair to pick it out.

  31. Stacey

    The Everyday Dal was absolutely delicious- thanks for posting. Goes great with the frozen naan at Trader Joes. Love your site, congrats on Napa.

  32. Alice

    The Everyday Dal was delicious! You have really turned me on to Indian food ever since the Indian Spiced Potatoes and Cauliflower. I served the dal with steamed kale greens and pillowy zucchini pancakes from Mark Bittman. So good!

  33. Carol

    I thought that both the dal and the Goan curry could have used a LOT more spice. They were far to bland for summertime!

    Next time for the dal, I’ll throw a pepper or two in. I don’t know if there will be a next time for the Goan Curry – better coconut recipes exist (especially from Kerala) and the beans never got to the right consistency despite appropriate soaking.

    The cabbage slaw, however, was a big hit!

  34. Shannon

    Let me tell you a story. I lived in India for a year, and “everyday” yellow dal was my absolute least favorite dish. I am ashamed to admit that I cried when I was served it for dinner on “thanksgiving.” I love Indian cooking now, but haven’t attempted a yellow dal because I found them way too heavy on the cayenne yet bland at the same time, if that makes sense. I made this dal with hesitation but wow- it FAR surpasses the “everyday” dals that I suffered through. And the black eyed peas are fabulous as well. Like Carol, I thought both were a little bland so I pumped up the spices and also added about a teaspoon of garam masala to each and they were perfection. Thanks for sharing these!

  35. tricia

    made this menu yesterday (been trying to get into indian cooking a little bit). I liked these quite a bit…they didn’t quite pack the punch that i usually like in my indian food, but the flavors were still nice. I was surprised i like the cabbage slaw as much as i did…it was the one i thought i’d like least…but it was my favorite.

  36. kari

    I made the slaw and the yellow dal for a dinner party the other night, and hoo boy was the dal delicious! i added more onions and more pepper, and it was terrific. i actually saved a little bowl for myself for work the next day, and it was still awesome after spending the night in my fridge and being zapped in a microwave.

  37. a

    i am allergic to tomato (actually the whole nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, chile peppers and eggplant) and wonder if you have some idea of how these dishes would turn out without using any tomato (or cayenne) and/or if you have any substitution suggestions, thanks for any ideas you might have!

  38. Brit

    I stumbled upon your site a few weeks ago, and am really tempted to make the everyday dal, but I don’t have cumin seeds–only ground cumin. Can I just make the substitution, or should I really go out and try to find cumin seeds?

  39. JW

    Hi – I just wanted to say, thank you thank you for posting the dal pictures and recipe! I found this post off of foodgawker just now and as soon as I saw the photo of that beautiful yellow dal my jaw literally dropped and my heart broke a little b/c I wanted some so badly! I had tried making dal before and it was a disaster b/c I had used lentils instead of split peas – obviously I don’t know much about Indian food! Really looking forward to trying out this recipe though, so thanks again :)

  40. Lilivati

    Yes! Another cilantro hater! So many people think I’m crazy too, and I also have been doing the flat leaf parsley substitution for a long time, ever since I discovered guacamole. ;)

  41. tara

    FYI, w/r/t the cabbage salad, i found 1 teaspoon to be WAY TOO MUCH SALT. maybe it should have been kosher salt, not regular salt? i added some splashes of vinegar, which helped, but it still tasted a little weird to me. the toasty mustard seeds were delicious, though.

  42. I need to say, thank you. I continually make this cabbage salad and am becoming famous for it even though I always refer to this site to people who compliment it. It is one of the best recipes I’ve come across in years. It’s cheap to make a lot of for guests, I’ve quadrupled the quantities for picnics. People constantly ask me if there are exotic ingredients in it like wasabi or sushi vinegar. I have made it at least 10-20 times since reading this.

    My variations: I tend to use jalapenos which are milder and easier to find hot peppers, I get black mustard seeds from an Indian spice store instead of standard ones, I use olive oil for better taste, and I tend to prefer to use a mandolin for strands of cabbage rather than a fine grate.

    The dal recipe is also great. Although I’m thinking of switching to more traditional mung or pigeon peas for it. My local split peas seem to be old and take twice as long to cook.

  43. oh as other commenters said, I also tend to use half the salt listed and I’m a salt person. If I actually do end up using Serrano peppers I use half because they are way spicier and don’t seem to double well when making quantities.

  44. beth

    I made the black eyed peas and they were good; I added a chopped yam and my husband, who claims to hate yams, said it really added some delightful sweetness. I also used chicken broth instead of water and added a tablespoon of butter at the end. I was suspicious of the cook time before I started- 20 minutes for dried beans? Maybe in a pressure cooker? I simmered this dish for over an hour, even after soaking the beans over night. They still could have cooked a little longer. Undercooked dried beans feel chalky and taste like dirt. Good recipe though, and healthy. I love Indian food, and it’s so much more affordable when you make it yourself. I want to try the yellow dal next!

  45. Deb,
    you’ve been my hero since i started reading your blog,
    but i just read in this post that you “abhor” cilantro–I think I just
    added another 10 pedestal for you to be on!!! you’re my HERO. :)

  46. Danica

    So delicious! I made all three tonight for a dinner party, along with your cucumber scallion raita and a big pot of basmati rice. It was a hit with everyone! The yellow split peas I used actually needed to be quick soaked with boiling hot water for an hour, or soaked for 6-8 hours instead….but I failed to note that until after I had been simmering them in the pot with the tomatoes and the cooking time was at least an hour or two longer than expected. Doh! I know better and don’t know why I didn’t think to check my bag of split peas first. The end result was still on the “firm” side, but done enough to eat. No one complained though, I suspect it was because the flavors were so tasty otherwise. :)

  47. Maggie

    an easier way to deal with the tedium of mincing ginger and garlic into tiny enough pieces to suit an indian dish is to puree them together in a food processor. or you could even crush them with a mortar and pestle. during my two years living in india i learned how to make what they call “ginger garlic paste” (which, incidentally, is the flavor base of most dal or curry, giving it that really authentic taste). you just puree equal parts of ginger and garlic in the food processor- it will store freshly made for up to a week in the fridge (for those who have a penchant for indian food- its just easier to have it already prepared). also, one specialty ingredient that i love to add to daily dal is called curry leaves, or kuddyapa. they can be found fresh in most indian stores, and have a distinctive flavor that i have never found in another herb. love all three of these recipes!

  48. Evelyn

    I’ve made both the cabbage salad and the dal and they are both fantastically delicious! The dal is on the menu again tomorrow night. Question: it being winter and the tomatoes being both incredibly expensive and tasting of cardboard, would you recommend using some amount of tomato sauce, paste, or canned tomatoes?

  49. Jennifer

    Great flavors in the dal. However, I had to stop cooking them at 2 1/2 hours, when they were mostly cooked for lack of time. Deborah Madison recommends soaking 3 hours –I’ll do that next time.

  50. I love this yellow dal– thank you. It’s the first time I really believed it possible to make Indian food to rival a restaurant’s at home. My 11-year-old daughter liked it so much that she took the serving bowl and ate the dal like soup. One quick question. Any clues for making basmati rice? Brand? Ingredients to add? Mine is fine but nothing special

  51. Nicole

    No idea if you check all new comments, even if the posts are old, but I’d love some feedback. I made the slaw last night, and while it was really tasty, it was incredibly SALTY! This could have been because I used Chinese cabbage, which was much leafier and less sturdy than your standard grocery store head, but I thought I’d at least ask whether 1 tsp was accurate – it seemed like a lot for two cups of shredded veggie (and I love salt).

    1. deb

      I do! It does look like 1 teaspoon is accurate to the original recipe, which means I used it too. However, it does sound like a lot in hindsight… I need to make this again soon and see how that amount holds up for me. Regular green cabbage lets off a lot of water when it is salted — which might have allowed more of the salt to sort of “slip off” into the bowl as it releases its water and wilts — so using a leafier one might have affected it.

  52. Megan

    I made this trio of recipes lat night. The cabbage was amazing and the black eyed peas were also great. However, both my peas and dal turned out very soupy. I’m not sure what I did wrong, they just didn’t turn out as thick and delicious looking as the pictures here. The black eyed peas also took about 40 minutes to be cooked (with overnight soak). I think a bit more spice would have really made these two recipes awesome. As they are I still thought they were quite good. I’ll have to try again with some adjustments in spices and amount of liquid.

  53. Connie

    Deb – Do you think you could use the slow cooker on the this? My split peas are taking forever to get soft and they seem to be cooking very uneavenly. This is a problem that I’ve had with many types of beans until you solved the issue with your slow cooking beans advice. Do you think it could be applied here?

  54. Anna

    I made the black eyed peas using a 16oz. bag of frozen guys and 2 cups of water. It turned out kind of soupy, but it was DELICIOUS over brown rice. Next time I will make it spicier so the absurd amount of cucumber raita I eat with it seems more rational. Thanks Deb!

  55. I’ve just discovered your website a week ago and i’ve been perusing through your posts for a couple of days now. I’ve made the dal and black-eyed peas today and they were completely awesome. I substituted the butter in the dal with yoghurt to make it even lighter. It seemed to work fine. Thanks for all your effort making this site!


  56. Sarah

    Made this tonight and it was delicious. My husband didn’t know what I’d been up to in the kitchen as said he felt like he’d walked into an Indian buffet!

  57. Clerky

    I’m Indian and cook Indian food all the time, and tried out the dal and the goan curry. I was not impressed with either! They are certainly fine but nothing special. If you’re looking for great Indian recipes, consider ones by Madhur Jaffrey. Her recipes are consistently excellent.

  58. Lovely Goan curry! If you want to really speed up the process (and be really Desi!) you can cook the black-eyed peas in a pressure cooker without even soaking them – so easy! I did it the long way though, as I had started soaking the peas first and then found a recipe I wanted to use. The coconut milk was a nice touch (apparently Goans put it in everything). I’ll make this again for sure. Very happy with it! Thank you!

  59. In response to Clerky – I’m definitely not Indian, but my friend from Mumbai came over and cooked with me. She thought the curry was good, and I agree. I don’t know that it’s SUPER special, but it’s definitely tasty and worth making. Thanks again!

  60. angela

    Loved the dal and the slaw, but I’ll have to second the “too salty!” comments (and I oversalt everything). I would recommend maybe just using half at the start, and salting to taste after.

    I thought the dal needed more salt, so I just alternated bites and it all evened out.

  61. laurel in madison

    i love the dal. when my husband and i made this for the first time, we insisted that we were eating something from a restaurant, not something we made in our home!

  62. Tricia

    I just made this yellow dal! It’s delicious, and the fresh cilantro REALLY brings out the flavor! If you like cilantro, make sure you include it. yum yum.

  63. jenny

    deb, I’ve made the yellow dal twice now and the flavors are delicious … but for some reason my yellow split peas REFUSE to get soft. have you ever had this problem? the first time I thought I hadn’t soaked them for long enough, so this go-round I soaked them for several hours before cooking. still no dice. cooked for almost two hours and they were still crunchy. (btw, the peas are a recent purchase–have only been in my cabinet for a little over a week.) any thoughts?? I would so love to get this recipe to turn out the way it’s supposed to!

    1. deb

      jenny — The store might have kept them around forever before you bought them. I look for beans and other dried things in vacuum-sealed packages where I can.

  64. jenny

    thanks … good call. meanwhile, I discovered another solution in my molecular gastronomy book: baking soda! apparently dried beans won’t cook down if your water is hard, but baking soda takes care of the problem. now I’m even more excited to try this again. :)

  65. Mollie

    Made the black eyed peas and the slaw tonight and both were fantastic! I went heavy on the cayenne (about the 1/2tsp) and it was amazing over brown basmati. It’s going to become a standard around here, probably almost as much as the chana masala which I’m obsessed with. Obsessed.

    Deb..I was wondering, will we be seeing a valentines day link, you know for brunches or dinners?… :0) *hint hint*

  66. Jenny C

    This is my new favorite way to cook black eyed peas! It is delicious with an extra 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger.
    Instead of split yellow peas, I used Indian split red lentils (Masoor Dahl). They don’t require any soaking and cook in 20 minutes tops.

  67. Erin

    The Goan Curry was great! I added collard greens to make it a meal, w/ rice. The flavor of the collard greens was really nice with the curry.

  68. Ashley

    This was all absolutely delicious! Next time I’ll double or triple the cabbage. We really felt that a small bite of it with each bite really made everything taste fresh. Two of us ate all the cabbage! I can’t wait for lunch today to have leftovers!

  69. Amber

    I have to agree with some of the previous posters re: salty slaw. It was almost inedible as written! I had to add another cup of cabbage and increase the sugar and lemon juice just to make it tolerable. I have no idea how other people are eating it as written. Love the idea though, next time I will cut the salt by half and see how it is.

  70. Indie

    hmm… Can I use a pressure cooker instead of that 1 and 1/4 hour of simmering ?…I usually do with the dals that I make … not sure about this one though …

  71. cristina

    I can’t begin to thank you for these recipes – I keep coming back to them! I also have a newfound appreciation for cabbage from the slaw recipes on this blog.

  72. Courtney

    This was so so amazing!!! It was different and exciting. I made all 3 recipes and they were all amazing. I found the cabbage a little two bland so added some extra sugar and rice vinegar. You’re incredible!

  73. Rae

    Hi deb, I made the dal tonight and had a major problem. As I was boiling the tomatoes with the split peas, I noticed a really funky smell. I’ve never done a dal before and so was unsure if this was normal. Well, after dal finished it had a funky taste as well. The tomato I used appeared to be fresh, only a couple days in the fridg and had a firm feel. Do you know how this could have happened?

    1. deb

      Hm. Is it possible that your spices could have been old or musty? (I don’t mean to insult your kitchen, btw! I am just running through the list of things that I suspect could cause the problem.)

  74. Rae

    Thanks! All my seasonings are pretty fresh. Must have been the tomato … I’m def trying this baby again soon though. I’ll report back, captain!

  75. Meredith

    Hi Deb,

    I’ve made this dal recipe many times now, and love it. Last night, I tried making it with canned tomatoes for the first time (it was late, I was lazy, the nearby store was closed, etc etc), and it came out TERRIBLE. Like, inedible. The flavor was really off and the peas came out whole and crunchy even though I cooked it for an extra hour.

    Any thoughts on whether canned tomatoes could cause all that, or whether they should generally be a no-no for this type of recipe? It might also be that the peas were old, but I used the same brand from the same store as always.

  76. deb

    So weird, as in the last few comments before yours, I discussed with someone ways that the dish’s flavor could be thrown. Do any of those ring true for you? I wish I knew what the problem was.

  77. Meredith

    Thanks — didn’t mean to make you repeat yourself. I was thinking that maybe the acidity is somehow different in fresh vs. canned tomatoes, and that might make the peas break down differently? No idea. Anyway, I’ll go back to fresh next time, just in case!

    1. deb

      Not a problem! I’ve only made this with fresh ones, and now I clearly need to retest it with canned. I wish I could get my son to love Indian food as we do; I would have retested this much sooner!

  78. Haley Y

    Hi, I know I’m a few months late, but I wanted to let you know that I used canned tomatoes (actually the kind with chilis included in the can, haha) in this recipe with great success! It was delicious, so that must not be the answer to Meridith’s problem. Good luck to Meridith, and to Deb: thanks for helping me add another amazing recipe to my repertoire!

  79. Reena

    Embarassed to admit that I use recipes like this even though I’m Indian! But mom always taught me “a little of this” and “a little of that” which resulted in everything being “a little off.”

    Proud to say this turned out amazing and, in my husband’s words, “just like mom’s!” Only thing I did that I learned from mom was add a little (1/4 tsp) garam masala to the onion mixture at the end of cooking (not too early or the spice will burn) and add a touch of turmeric (1/4 tsp) to the boiling dahl while it’s cooking with the water and tomatoes. Otherwise, totally authentic and totally delicious. Thanks so much!

  80. Eldub

    I loved the Spicy Goan Curry sauce! I added a dash or two of Thai fish sauce, which really brought out the sweet and savory notes of the dish. I forgot to add the coconut milk, but it turned out great anyway. I highly recommend it, and will be trying this out again with other beans and legumes. Also, I’m thinking of getting a cone of palm jaggery from the Asian food market nearby and seeing how that tastes when used in place of sugar. Thanks for the great recipe!

  81. Jessica

    I own the cookbook these recipes were adapted from. It was the first cookbook I ever bought, and is still my favorite. But I lost the pages with the yellow dal and black-eyed pea recipes several years ago. They were my favorite recipes, and I missed them, but I never thought to write them down. You cannot realize how made my day was when I found them here. Thank you so much!

  82. Nadia

    My black-eyed peas in curry turned out more soupy than you would assume from the picture. I used dried beans + 2 cups of water and simmered covered for about 30 minutes. Yummy, but soupy…

  83. Janelle

    I just made these tonight, and they were so so so delicious!! I’m always looking for a new use for black-eyed peas (my husband’s family grows them in abundance), and I have had a bag of split-peas (they did happen to be green instead of yellow, but it didn’t seem to matter) in my cupboard begging to be used for some time now. Mmmmm! Thank you! I was wondering though–how do you serve this? All three recipes together? With naan? Rice? And the photo shows something white and creamy-looking in the middle. Did I miss something? What is that?

  84. Janelle

    Thank you! Ooh-one more question if you have a sec–I’m new to making Indian food, but I’m in love! Would you recommend a cookbook for me??

  85. Robert

    I just finished making the yellow dal. Tears of joy and gratitude! At first I thought, No way will this taste anywhere near restaurant quality — that would be too good to be true for a recipe this manageable. But it’s not! As an unskilled cook who’s vegetarian and has celiac, thank you, thank you, thank you.

  86. pvl

    the dal is deeelicious! :-)

    I have not yet tried the black-eyed peas, but since I had never cooked these I started looking around, and found a couple interesting things. Several sites suggested that BlackEyed peas do NOT need to be soaked, and that cooking time is only about 40 min.

    Then I also found in the comments to this article:

    a discussion of why salt should not be added to bean cooking water until the beans are tender. Fascinating! I wonder if this curry recipe were changed to not include soaking, and not adding salt to the cooking water until the very end – would it work? Maybe a bit longer cooking time, but no soak?

    I’ll have to try – btw here is the text that about salt that I found most interesting (hope you do, too):

    “Update June 2012: Several knowledgable scientific minds have sent me the technical data as to why I avoid adding sea salt to the dried bean cooking water. This explaination is the BEST I’ve read and easiest to understand.

    Water Follows Sodium
    “Actually it is not the “plugging” by sodium, but instead is due to the osmotic pressure gradient between the sodium solution in which the dried beans would be cooked and the water in the dried beans themselves. “Water follows sodium” is a phrase medical students learn to understand this process. The cell membranes of the bean are semi-permeable. They allow water to move freely on both sides of the membranes (in the dried bean and in the cooking water) when the concentration of sodium on both sides of the membrane is the same. This is what you want for cooking dried beans. However, once there is a difference in the concentration of sodium on one side of the membrane, in this case the cooking water, the water molecules flow toward the sodium to try and equalize the concentration on both sides of the membrane. This means the beans won’t absorb the water needed to cook them properly.” —Rich Howard

    So add the salt and seasonings AFTER the beans are tender and the consistency you want the finished recipe to represent.”

  87. Hi Deb,
    I’m about to make this delicious-looking dahl, but couldn’t find yellow split peas anywhere. What do you think of using small red lentils instead? Any advice about cooking with them as opposed to the yellow split peas?


  88. claibird

    LOVE the tangy cabbage. Amazing! I used parsley instead of cilantro because my husband despises it, and I added a fourth of an orange bell pepper which paired nicely with the lemon. I’ve never eaten cabbage with my Indian, but I found it harmonized the heavy spices of the dal. I’m adding this into my Indian food rotation for shizzle.

  89. claibird

    Allison, I used red lentils. The cook time is, like deb says, shorter, and they form a mash-like puree on their own after about 45 minutes. But I like this texture with the aromatic rice I usually make to go with dal.

  90. Tanja

    I am a new fan! And I am a reverse fan! I found the book last Sunday while strolling through a little independent bookstore, and it was love at first sight and will compete with my complete series of Jamie Oliver books. I totally relate to every word you say about your cooking meanderings Deb! This Blog is amazing.
    I just happened to read above comments about the “funny smell” of the Dal. My husband is Indian, so I do cook quite a bit of Indian food (not enough for him though..I am German, I like good simple food based on good ingredients, and believe the presentation matters) – so I am always happy to try out something new. As one of the Indian girls mentioned above, any Indian mother/aunty/mother in law never has a recipe but just “some of this and some of that”…! Anyhow, I don’t think the choice of tomato, canned or fresh, makes a different unless you pick a really rotten one which is unlikely, as this would be noticable right away. I have sometimes soaked my lentils in water and then did not get to cook them, so kept them in the water for too long and the smelled really bad after a while so I tossed them out. But whenever I cook them as planned, there is no issue. I do however not cook them in plain water but hot broth (vegetable or chicken) and then only add a pinch of salt in the end if needed, but I like it less salty, and my husband will cover it in salt once on his plate regardless. You just need to make sure you heat the broth first before mixing with the lentils, else they may not soften ( I mom told me once..)!

  91. Rebecca

    We LOVED the black eyed peas and the cabbage salad! Thank you Deb, so much, for these recipes. We made the red kidney bean curry from your site a few nights ago and loved it so much that we wanted to keep the Indian food going and tried these recipes tonight. :) You have certainly boosted our confidence for making delicious Indian food!

    I only had time to soak the black eyed peas for an hour and a half or so, but like other reviewers read that they don’t necessarily need to be soaked like other beans. I found they took about 30 minutes to cook without having had a long soak.

    I halved the amount of black-eyed peas, onion, tomato, and liquids, but kept the spice amounts the same as in your original recipe, as we like the spice levels high. It was perfect for our tastes. My husband and I devoured everything between the two of us! Thank you again Deb, these Indian recipes will become regular in our household!

  92. Nicole

    Growing up with a father who loved to cook Indian food, I’ve always tried to do it myself- It would never end up how I remembered as a kid. We made your everyday dahl last night and it was wonderful! This recipe is what I’ll use from now on- thank you! Even the 5 year old picky eater loved it. Thank you!

  93. Alice

    Made this tonight for dinner and it was a hit with my meat loving flat mate, thanks for a super easy and delish recipe :)
    havent read through the comments but I used white vinegar since we had no citrus in the house and the salad was awesome (although made a HUGE mess with the mustard seeds, not quick enough with the pot lid!)

  94. bubba

    After simmering the yellow split peas in 3 cups of water there is no mention of draining before mashing. Although cooked for 1 & 1/2 hours it still seemed to liquify to me but what do I know? Never had Dal before and would like to get the consistency right.

  95. deb

    Hi bubba — I am not sure how watery yours were but this is a loose dal. (They can be a bit soupy.) However, you can make it thicker by draining off some water if needed. It’s really about how you would enjoy it the most.

  96. Robin

    I’ve been using this recipe for a couple of years now along with the channa masala and cauliflower. Actually, all of the Indian recipes are delish..thought it was about time to thank you for one of my favorite go to recipes! I’m certainly going to get your cookbook. Thank you again!!

  97. Cara

    I have made the everyday yellow dal twice now and both times it has been delicious! I, too, find cilantro repugnant and used flat-leaf parsley. It’s divine. I’m bringing it to the synagogue tonight, and hope all those silly vegetarians enjoy it as much as I do! This is a super easy and wonderful dish.

  98. Elizabeth

    This dal is insanely delicious. INSANELY. It stacks up to the food in India. I used sorrel instead of cilantro because I have a ton of it and it added a lovely lemony brightness. Thank you Deb!

  99. Sandy

    I made your tangy, shredded cabbage salad and it was spectacular! Thanks for a great recipe that I will make many more times. Now I’ll have to try the other recipes here. Yum!

  100. This has been a favorite recipe of ours for years. But lately we’ve been having trouble getting the peas to cook fully. We moved a while back, and reading in the comments here that it may be our water and that baking soda might be a solution to the problem is very encouraging! Thanks Smitten Kitchen readers!

  101. Celeste Bickford

    The dal was good (we served it with buttered white basmati rice and 11% milk fat yogurt) but the cabbage salad was AMAZING. I subbed blackberry honey for the sugar and forgot to toast the mustard seed and it was still amazing. Going to be putting it on regular rotation. Looking forward to trying it with BBQ salmon this summer.

  102. Lynx

    I will simply echo what so many others have said above.

    I made the dal tonight – absolutely delightful! Perfect flavors, and SO dead simple. I told my husband we should make this again soon (not going to lie- the two of us ate it all), and he said, “Like tomorrow night?”

    Made our evening great – such tasty food. Thank you, Deb!

  103. NBL

    I made the dal earlier this week and it was SOOO delicious. As a brown girl, I’m pretty particular when it comes to Indian food, but this recipe nailed it! My toddler son has been devouring it with brown basmati rice. Can’t wait to try the other two recipes!

  104. Laura in CA

    my husband’s comments on the dal and cabbage, “This is one of the best SK recipes we’ve had, don’t you think? But I guess I say that about all of them.” LOVED IT!

  105. alexandriagrown

    Wow, I just made the yellow dal recipe for dinner tonight and it was delicious! I did find that I had to turn the heat up on the lentils a bit to cook the liquid down (I was getting a little impatient probably because I was hungry) If you like Indian food, I highly recommend this recipe.

  106. Julia D

    I’ve made the dal and the cabbage salad several times with basmati rice and find it a very satisfying meal. It’s definitely on my comfort-food list!