Cook-It-Yourself Ethnic Recipes

Smoky Yellow Split Peas (Tamatar Chana Dal)

Tis vegan and gluten-free recipe traces its roots to Southeast India, where roasting spices to yield nutty-hot flavors creates a layered experience.

Yields: 6 cups 1 cup yellow split peas

1 lb potatoes (Yukon gold or russet), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes 1/4 tsp ground turmeric

2 to 4 dried red cayenne chiles (like chile de arbol), stems discarded

Measure the peas into a medium-size

saucepan. Cover with water and rinse the grains by rubbing them in-between fingertips. Drain and repeat three to four times until the water, upon rinsing the peas, remains fairly clear. Measure and pour 4 cups of water

into the pan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. When some foam arises, scoop it out and discard it. Add the potatoes and turmeric to

the peas, stirring once or twice. Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Stew the mélange, stirring occasion- ally, until the peas are tender, but still firm-looking and the potatoes are cooked, 20 to 25 minutes. While the peas and potatoes cook,

preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan feels hot (a palm held close to the bottom usually feels the heat within 2 to 4 minutes), sprinkle in the chiles, coriander and cumin.

1 Tbsp coriander seeds 1 tsp cumin seeds 1 medium-size tomato, cored and diced

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems 1 1/2 tsp coarse kosher or sea salt

Toast the spices, shaking the pan very

frequently, until the chiles blacken and smell smoky-hot and the seeds turn red- dish brown and smell strongly aromatic (nutty with citrus undertones), 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer this spice blend to a blender jar

and plunk in the tomato. Purée, scraping the insides of the jar as needed, to make a smooth, reddish brown paste with a smoky aroma. Once the peas are cooked, scrape the

spicy, well-seasoned tomato paste into the pan. Stir in the cilantro and salt. Set the heat to medium-high and vig-

orously boil the dal, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to min- gle and the sauce to slightly thicken, 12 to 15 minutes. For a thicker sauce, mash some of the peas and potatoes with the back of a spoon. Serve warm.

Recipe courtesy of Raghavan Iyer (

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