Dhal, a staple in Trinidadian cooking. We make this dish alongside curries or to be eaten alone like a soup or with roti *flat bread*. It’s healthy, flavorful and filling.
So funny story, when I was a teenager I was a bit rebellious *What? Really?! No way!*… I know, hard to believe right!? Anyway, my mom was forcing me to learn how to cook and I wanted no part of it, so I was throwing a hissy fit about cooking dhal and deliberately doing it wrong so she would just get mad at me and shoo me away. Well….she didn’t and I got a pot spoon thrown at me and she made me count each grain of dhal *split peas* in the package! Ever since then I’ve hated dhal and refused to make it! *Yeah! I’ll show her!!*
Years later, I’m pregnant and craving dhal and I didn’t know how to make it! According to Caribbean superstition, when you get pregnancy cravings and you don’t satisfy it, your child will be born with a birthmark shaped like what you were craving! And I was not about to have a child with a dhal birthmark on his head! 😁
Luckily my sister Giselle was visiting me and she is the best dhal maker I know *Yeah! Take that mom!!*, so I paid close attention and wrote down this recipe. I like my dhal not too thick and not too runny, just in the middle.
1 cup yellow split peas
2 1/2 cups water
7 grains garlic
1/2 onion chopped (medium)
1/2 habanero pepper ( keep whole if you want the flavor and not the heat)
1/4 tsp saffron powder
2 pimento peppers finely chopped (or you can use jalapeños)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp whole geera (cumin)
1. Soak split peas for a couple hours and drain.
2. Boil 2 1/2 cups of water and then add the peas.
3. Add the 5 garlic grains, onion, peppers and saffron powder.
4. Let boil until peas are very soft and tender.
5. In a small pan, heat oil and add 2 grains garlic and geera, let it brown over low heat.When the garlic is brown, carefully pour the oil mixture into your split peas. (This process is called chunkaying)
6. Whisk the mixture or puree until smooth and add salt to taste (about a tsp)
TIP: If your dhal is too thick you can add hot water until you get to your desired texture.