Share, , Google Plus, Pinterest,


Posted in:

Mom’s Dhal

Serves 4

© by Suech and Beck

When comfort calls, this humble dhal satisfies me like nothing else. As kids, my brother Jai and I would tear up fresh homemade Roti and dip them into our dhal. It’s a simple dish with humble ingredients, often prepared whenever we needed a quick and hearty meal on the table. More importantly, this heirloom recipe is a preservation of my cultural ancestry and, more importantly, an invaluable connection to my late grandmother. It’s the perfect expression of my family.


  • Yellow Split Peas 1 cup, rinsed
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Garlic 3 cloves, finely chopped
  • Wiri Wiri Chili Peppers 1–2, to taste (see Note)
  • White Onion 1 small, finely chopped
  • Scallion 1, chopped
  • Curry Powder 1 tsp
  • Ground Turmeric 1/2 tsp
  • Ground Cumin 1/2 tsp, toasted
  • Baby Spinach Leaves 1 cup
  • Roti to serve


  • Grapeseed Oil 1 Tbs
  • Cumin Seeds 1 tsp
  • Garlic 1 clove, thinly sliced

Cook It

  1. Add 10 cups water to a large saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Stir in split peas and salt. Add garlic, Wiri Wiri chili pepper(s), onion, scallion, curry powder, turmeric and cumin. Mix well. Cover partially, then simmer for 35–40 minutes, until split peas are softened. Remove from heat.
  2. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Stir in spinach.
  3. Make the chunkay: Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add cumin seeds—they should sputter once they hit the oil. Cook for 30 seconds before adding garlic, then fry until golden brown.
  4. Carefully pour the chunkay into the dhal. Cover with a lid and set aside for 2–3 minutes to trap the aromas. Stir, then serve.

Notes: Chunkay is a way of tempering aromatics before they’re added to a dahl. East Indians have something similar called tadka or parka.

Wiri Wiri chili peppers can be substituted with half the amount of Scotch bonnet or habanero chili peppers.

Excerpted from Mad Love: Big Flavours Made to Share, from South Asia to the West Indies–A Cookbook  by Devan Rajkumar. Photography by Suech and Beck. Copyright © 2023 by Devan Rajkumar. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher