Friday, December 10, 2010

Getting Territorial over Split Peas

I wanted to make dhal, but there was no coconut cream left. Not to panic. Option B is my second favourite dhal curry. Except it’s called ‘Dholl’ in Madhur  Jaffrey’s ‘World Vegetarian’ cookbook, which has this recipe coming from Trinidad. “We cook it just like that,” assure my Mauritian friends. Either way, here's the yummy Trinidad-Mauritius ‘Dholl’ aka 'Yellow Split Peas with Thyme and Cumin'.

Yellow Split Peas
You will need:
* 1 ½ cups split peas, picked, washed and drained
* Scant ½ teaspoon ground turmeric;
* ½ cup finely chopped onion;
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives (didn’t have any so omitted, but in the past I’ve substituted spring onions);
* 2-3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh hot red or green chillies or ¼ Scotch bonnet, finely chopped. (Didn’t have fresh or a Scotch bonnet. So substituted whole dried red chillies, broken into biggish pieces);
Continental Parsley
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley. (Used Continental Parsley fresh from the garden);
* 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (again from the garden) or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves;
* 1 ¼ teaspoons salt;
* 3 tablespoon oil;
* ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds;
* 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed (I doubled the garlic and chopped it, very finely).

Dried Red Chillies

What to do:
Bring split peas and 5 cups of water to boil in a heavy pot, taking care the liquid doesn’t boil over. Add turmeric, stir. Turn heat down low. Partially cover pot with lid. Cook for about half an hour. Enough time to catch-up on emails or do this next bit.
Peel and chop onions. Go out into garden. Avoid spider hanging over potted herbs. Discover the chives are far too puny to be useful, grab a handful of parsley and thyme. Avoid spider a second time. Go inside and chop all herbs finely. Add to simmering split peas, along with salt.

Cumin
Partially cover pot again, and cook for another 20 minutes, or ten (because the split peas looked done by then). Turn off the heat.
Next, heat oil in a small frying pan. When very hot, put in cumin seeds. Let sizzle for 10 seconds (time it takes to walk from stove to island bench, collect chopping board with garlic on it, walk back to stove). Add garlic to oil. Stir until golden brown, then pour contents of frying pan over split peas. Stir to mix.
Now it’s ready to enjoy.

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