Split Pea Soup with Spices and Coconut ( Bengali Cholar Dal ) | Dinner

This simple dal gets its flavours from just a few whole spices such as cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds, and coconut. The flavours intensify as the whole spices sit in the soup, and the dal tastes even better the next day. Remove the whole spices just before serving. Serve over rice or with flatbread or crackers. This one was a big hit with my testers’ young kids.


DAL: 1 cup split chickpeas (chana dal) or split yellow peas, washed, soaked for 1 hour, and drained 3 1/2 cups water 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste 1 teaspoon sugar

THE TEMPERING: 2 teaspoons coconut oil or safflower oil 1/4 cup large coconut flakes, dry or fresh 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds 2 (2-inch) cinnamon sticks Seeds of 2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed 2 bay leaves 3 cloves 3 whole dried red chiles or red pepper flakes, to taste 1 (1-inch) knob of ginger, minced 2 tablespoons roughly chopped raw cashews 2 tablespoons raisins 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, for garnish


1. Dal: Combine the split peas with 3 1/2 cups of water and the turmeric in a saucepan. Partially cover and cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the split peas are very tender. Stir in the salt and sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer while you make the tempering. 2. The tempering: Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut flakes and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Remove the coconut flakes from the pan and set aside. Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks,

cardamom seeds, bay leaves, and cloves to the hot oil, and mix for 1 minute, or until fragrant. 3. Break the red chiles in half and add them to the pan. Add the ginger, cashews, and raisins and cook until the cashews are golden, about 1 minute. Add this tempering to the simmering split peas and mix well. Mash some of the split peas if needed. Taste and adjust the salt and spice, if needed. 4. Stir half of the golden coconut flakes from Step 2 into the split peas. Simmer covered for 5 minutes. Garnish with the remaining coconut flakes and red pepper flakes. Remove the cinnamon and bay leaves from the split peas just before serving. Pressure cooker: Wash the split peas and soak for 15 minutes. Drain, and combine with 3 cups of water and the turmeric, in a pressure cooker. Close and lock the lid, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes after the cooker reaches pressure (3 to 4 whistles at medium-high heat). Let the pressure release naturally. Open the lid, add the salt, sugar and tempering, and simmer uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved. Garnish with red pepper flakes.

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