Cooking with the Fam: Di Van's Dhal

Although the first day of school was less than 2 weeks ago on Sep 1st, it feels more like a year as I've been working to keep up with the bustle of changes that occur in the first month of school. It certainly hasn't kept me from cooking but it definitely has been a hindrance to writing and I have a backlog of recipes and stories to share.

Many years ago when I lived with my family in the East coast of Canada, we would often drive to Ontario in the summer to visit our extended relatives. I don't remember much else from one of these trips except for my aunt's Indian food that was waiting for us when we got out of the car. I remember this as being the best dhal I had ever eaten and I'm sure a bit of it can be attributed to the fact that I was starving from our trek across the country but let me tell you that after having made it a few times at home, it really is as good as I remember it. Forever, I remembered my aunt for making amazing Indian food and then some odd years later, we had an Indian themed Thanksgiving dinner hosted at her place. Oh, man. I went home with some dhal leftovers and soon after I found the recipe she had e-mailed me and well, here we are.

It was so good that once I got it in a bowl, it didn't stay there
long enough for a picture!
Of course, I change it slightly based on what I had, as I wanted to use up my yellow split peas. Turns out that dhal means to split, so it can be something made from any kind of de-shelled dried bean or pea that has been split. Or so I learned. Also, I bet you thought all of my cooking with the fam would be Vietnamese food, yeah? Yeah. Well, I suppose this one is pseudo cooking since I'm not actually cooking with her...

Di Van's Dhal, slightly modified to become Yellow Split Pea Dhal
Original Recipe

1 tbs oil/butter
1 tsp dry brown/black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp dry cumin seeds
1 tbs dry curry leaves (A generous tbs)
1/2 tsp dry red pepper flakes
1 onion, thinly sliced
8-10 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

2 cups yellow split peas
4 cups of water (I may have subbed 1-2 cups of some kind of stock, like veggie)

1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp curry powder

salt to taste
juice of one lemon
Chopped cilantro for garnish


Heat oil and splatter mustard seeds, cumin, chillies and quickly add curry leaves. Then
add onion, garlic and ginger, tomatoes and saute until onion is golden brown.

Add peas, water, turmeric, curry powder and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for
15-20 minutes or until lentils are half cooked.

Add salt and lemon juice and simmer until soft and the consistency is to your liking.

Now I made this one time before this time and I think I did some de-glazing of the bottom of the pan with some white wine. I say this because I made it a time after that, and it didn't quite taste the same...

Thank you Di Van, I hope to cook with you soon!

make 'em laugh!