Indian-Style Yellow Split Pea Curry (Matar Dal)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Indian style yellow split pea curry

Split peas — or matar dal — are not the most frequently used legume in Indian dal curries, but their rich, earthy taste and hearty, chewy texture contrast beautifully with the hot and tart and tangy flavors for which Indian cooking is so famous, and make a wonderful change of pace on occasion. This simple and colorful curry takes abundant advantage of these natural combinations of Indian flavors with the humble split pea, and takes no more than 10 minutes of preparation and 15 minutes of cooking.

As usual, ingredients like amchoor powder (ground dried mangoes) and garam masala are easily available at local Indian grocers, or you can make your own garam masala blend using ideas found here or here.

Indian-Style Yellow Split Pea Curry (Matar Dal)Indian-Style Yellow Split Pea Curry (Matar Dal)
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on January 25, 2012

A simple and colorful curry contrasting the earthiness of split peas and hot, tart and tangy Indian spices and flavors

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

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  • 1/2 cup dried yellow split peas
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 green chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon amchoor powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • small handful fresh coriander or parsley leaves, chopped
  • Rinse the split peas under cold running water and soak for 1 hour under several inches of cold water. Drain and rinse, then add to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the peas are tender. Drain and set aside.

  • Heat the ghee or olive oil in a frying pan or wok over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and fry for 2 minutes or until the onion starts to turn translucent. Toss in the ginger and chilies, and stir for 1 minute. Add the cumin seeds and cook for 30 seconds or until the seeds darken a couple of shades and turn fragrant. Now stir in the tomato, cayenne, turmeric and amchoor and cook for 5 minutes or until the tomato starts to reduce. Stir in the split peas and let the pan simmer for 10 minutes to let the peas warm and absorb the flavours.

  • Remove the pan from heat and season with salt and garam masala. Serve hot or warm on its own or on a bed of hot fresh white rice, garnished with chopped fresh coriander or parsley leaves. To reheat, add a little water and simmer gently in a pan for several minutes.

Makes 4 servings

split peas

Other simple Indian dals you may enjoy:
Indian-Style Split Pea Soup
Spicy Green Lentils and Yellow Split Peas
Mung Tamarind Dal

On the top of the reading stack: "The Cat's Table" by Michael Ondaatje

Audio Accompaniment: Neroli by Brian Eno


MapMaster said...

I love these simple Indian dal curries -- easy to make, tasty and healthy

Anonymous said...

Very good! Yum

Rita said...

I usually use split peas to make soup; this really is tempting.

Simona Carini said...

Making something with split peas is part of my NY resolutions. I'd really like to taste this dish. I like that it is simple and quick to make.

Priya Suresh said...

Wat a terrific and super tempting dish..

hotpotcooking said...

Nice dal curry. Simple too nice one.

janet @ the taste space said...

I absolutely adore yellow split peas. This looks like a great weeknight dal. I didn't know it was called matar dal, thanks for the tip. :)

Unknown said...

Question: would I be able to use green split peas? is there a taste/cooking difference?

Lisa Turner said...

The cooking time would be the same, but there would be a difference in taste. The yellow split peas are creamier. You can give it a try and let me know how it works out for you.

Anonymous said...

Made this recipe this evening but threw some paneer in as well. Have to say it was absolutely gorgeous. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Put some thick coconut milk in the end. Amazing!

Diliplodh said...

Going to have it very shortly..🙆