Delicious and nutritious, the cuisine of India is always full-flavored and often without the supplementation of fatty meats. How do they get so much satisfaction from boring old vegetables? It’s the spices, silly. Check out this recipe for one of my all-time favorite Indian dishes: Dal Stew. Meaning ‘split’ in Sanskrit, Dal can be made with any sort of pea or bean. Yellow split peas are common.

The Dal:

¾ cup yellow split peas

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 serrano chilies, seeded and chopped

The Vegetables and Spices:

3 medium tomatoes

2 Japanese eggplants or ½ globe eggplant

2 medium zucchini

2 medium carrots

4 tablespoons clarified (ghee) butter

1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

½ small cauliflower, broken into florets

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped.


Let the peas soak in water for around 2 hours. Then, pour off the soaking water and add 3 cups of fresh water along with the remaining Dal ingredients. Bring to a boil and then simmer for around 45 minutes or until the peas have become completely soft. Let it cool and blend to make a puree–adding water if necessary–to get 3½ cups.

When the peas are cooking, prepare the veggies by peeling the tomatoes, halving them and gently squeezing out the seeds. Cut the tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and carrots into pieces that are large enough so that they remain substantial within the finished stew.

Heat the ghee butter on a large skillet, and add the mustard seeds (they may pop, so be cautious) until they turn grayish and begin to expand. Next, add cumin seeds and after another 5 seconds, the onion. Sautee for a minute on high heat and then add the chopped tomatoes and eggplant. Cook for just under 3 minutes before adding cauliflower and carrots. Stir everything together and begin adding the yellow pea puree. Add salt and stir over a medium-low heat until the vegetables become soft. This should continue for about 15 minutes, at which point you can add the zucchini and then continue stirring for another 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy your healthy and hearty homemade stew!