Spicy Dhal with Tomatoes and Swiss Chard

spicy dhal

Man, what a grey old day we had. It’s the Pacific Northwest, but man, the first one of the year, the day where it doesn’t get light until after 7 a.m. and it’s in the mid-40s, and it’s stormy, it’s just a slap upside the head.

And I’m just done with turkey for now. I’m not hating on it, but I’ve had my fill. There’s a last container of turkey soup in the fridge, but the thing I was craving by 10:30 yesterday morning was a bowl of spicy dhal and rice. This one’s a yellow split pea dhal.  If you’ve never tried yellow split peas before, hit up the bulk section at your market. They’re usually right next to the green split peas, and they’re cheap – about $1.35 a pound at my market – and high in fiber.

I don’t make it as soupy as you might have in a restaurant, this is more of a curry, but it’s bright and flavorful and just what you need to push the grey to the edges.

Spicy Dhal with Tomatoes and Swiss Chard

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 1 hour


  • 1 c. yellow split peas, rinsed and picked over
  • 2 1/2 c. water
  • 1/4 t. turmeric
  • 1 T. canola (or vegetable) oil
  • 3/4 t. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 t. brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 1 c. canned chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • half a bunch of swiss chard, leaves removed from the stalk, cut into 1-inch ribbons
  • Water, as needed to achieve desired consistency
  • Serve with basmati rice, flavored with black cardamom, cinnamon stick, whole cloves and cumin seeds.



In a 3 qt. sauce pan, combine yellow split peas, water and turmeric. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low, cooking for 30-45 minutes until the peas are soft. There will still be a fair amount of liquid in the pan. Using the back of a large spoon (or a potato masher), mash the split peas against the side of the pan 8-10 times to break them up.


Heat oil over medium high-heat in a large skillet. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and pepper flakes and cook until the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the onion and garlic and reduce heat to medium. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Obviously, stir occasionally. Stir in the tomatoes and salt and cook for 2-3 minutes. You want to the tomatoes to hold their shape.


Add the cooked yellow split peas and bring to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and continue cooking until wilted. Add additional water as needed to achieve desired consistency.


Adapted from a recipe in Maya Kaimal McMillman's Curried Favors.

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