While I like just about all types of food, I crave a big pot of soup or stew when the weather turns cold. With Thanksgiving and the holiday season upon off, I’ve eaten a fair-share of meat (to include turkey, of course, my annual post-Thanksgiving duck, and a ribeye roast), so am fancying some vegetables to balance out my meat indulgence.
Indian-spiced yellow split chickpeas (aka chana dal) with greens was calling my name. As prepared today, it’s minimally spicy, so for all you chile fiends out there, myself included, I recommend adding a minced green chile to the pot.
It’s hearty and loaded with lots of nutrition — turmeric, fresh ginger and garlic, and greens (used spinach, but you could easily substitute something like Swiss chard), tomatoes, and capsicum (chiles). It’s vegan too.
The exact consistency of this dish is up to personal preference, whether you like it a bit more soupy or dry. I like mine in between, not too soupy, not too dry. Just adjust by adding more or less water.
Next time around the only thing I would do differently is make a bigger pot so I have plenty to nibble on throughout the week.
Serve hot with a side of roti or naan or rice.
Spices that went into the dal:
- Whole cumin seeds
- Deggi mirch (a blend of red Indian chiles and Kashmiri red chiles; mild in heat. If you can’t find, you can easily subsitute another type of chile powder, just adjust the quantity accordingly, depending on its level of heat).
- Garam masala — a blend of black and white peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, black and green cardamaom, bay leaf, and cumin.
I read that the key to getting the dal nice and creamy is by using a wooden tool called a mathani. I found one at one of my frequent trips to my new favorite spice shop. While a mathani is not essential for making this dish, you can use a whisk or wooden spoon instead.
Indian-Spiced Yellow Split Chickpeas with Greens
1 cup Indian yellow split chickpeas (aka chana dal)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups water
2 tablespoons oil
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup onion, finely diced
1 inch-piece of ginger, grated
5 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
*1 green chile minced, such as serrano or jalapneo (optional)
1 cup tomato, diced
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chile powder, such as deggi mirch (more or less to taste)
Large handful of spinach (or Swiss chard), chopped
In a large saucepan or pot, combine the chana dal, turmeric, salt, and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer, partly covered for 40 minutes (add more water if needed). Set aside.
Optional: Use an Indian mathani to puree the dal for 1 minute.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds and fry for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the onion and saute until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic (and green chile) and continue to saute a few more minutes, until golden but not browned. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook until the tomatoes are soft. Stir in the garam masala and chile powder. Add this mixture to the pot with the chana dal.
Bring the pot back to a simmer. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
Serve with rice, naan, or roti.