I cannot claim that this is any kind of authentic food from any part of Asia, but the combination of yellow split peas, typically far eastern seasonings, and some familiar vegetables should work for most Americans to bring the flavor of an Indian restaurant into their own kitchen.
Split Peas and Vegetables, Indian Style
8 oz yellow split peas
olive oil—about 2 T
2 c chopped onions
1 large jalapeno, seeded and all white membranes removed—chopped (for more heat, use more jalapeno or chop some of the membrane into the mix)
3 c carrots, sliced
2 to 3 c finely shredded cabbage
½ t turmeric
½ t coriander
1 t curry powder or to taste
2 T vegetable broth powder
½ t cumin
1 c chopped cilantro, leaves and stems
1/3 c unsweetened applesauce (optional)
1. Rinse the split peas until the water runs clear. Cover with water, about an inch above the peas. Cover and simmer until soft. See the following comments about cooking with yellow split peas on the amount of time needed for cooking. (This step can be done ahead of time, with the peas refrigerated or even frozen until you are ready to add them.)
2. Sauté the onions and jalapeno in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Stir in the carrots and lower heat to medium. Continue cooking for a few minutes, until the carrots are just starting to become tender.
3. Stir in the cabbage and seasonings, adding a small amount of water as necessary to keep the mixture from sticking. Cover and simmer another 5 minutes or until the cabbage is just barely tender. Add liquid as needed to keep the mixture moist. (Water, broth, or even tomato or apple juice can be used for this liquid.)
4. Stir the cooked split peas and applesauce into the vegetables. Taste again and adjust for seasoning before simmering together for a few minutes to meld the flavors.
Serve with rice or naan.
Serve with rice or naan.
Cooking with Yellow Split Peas
When you begin cooking with dried beans, lentils, and peas, you will quickly learn that the length of time it takes to cook a particular batch can vary quite a bit, depending on how old the beans are. Perhaps because yellow split peas are less commonly purchased in my area, I have found that most of the time the ones I buy require much more cooking time than the green variety.
Unlike dried beans, split peas don't generally have to be pre-soaked, and you will find many recipes that add them directly to other ingredients without any pre-cooking or preparation. However, after having an experience or two where I had to choose between having hard little nuggets of peas or very overcooked vegetables, I have found the approach in this recipe the best: cook the peas separately until they are almost done and then add them to your other ingredients to finalize the cooking and blend the flavors.
So how long should you allow for cooking the peas? If they are "fresh," 30 to 45 minutes will be needed without pre-soaking. However, older peas (indistinguishable in the bag or bin unfortunately) could take twice as long. If you suspect you are dealing with peas that have been dried for some time, you can pre-soak for a few hours, just cook for a longer time, or use a pressure cooker, if you have one.