Dhal & Rice is one of those go-to meals to feed the family in many Trinbagonian households. Split peas are a very common legume used in most caribbean homes and are inexpensive, in fact “dhal” is a very cheap and easy dish to make, as it utilizes aromatics that are usually in your kitchen. Pour it over a bowl of rice and add a refreshing cucumber salad at the side and you’re good to go.
1 cup of Dhal (Split Peas), soaked in water for 30 minutes or overnight
3 1/2 -5 cups of boiling water (Add more as needed)
5 Pimentos or Seasoning Peppers finely chopped (reserve 2 for chunkaying) 1 small Onion
1 small Onion
10 cloves of Garlic roughly chopped (reserve 4 closes for chunkaying)
1 Hot Pepper finely chopped (optional – no seeds, reserve 1/2 teaspoon for chunkaying)
1 teaspoon Turmeric Salt (to your preference)
1 teaspoon of ground geera/cumin
1 teaspoon Geera/Cumin seeds
Salt and Black pepper to taste
A technique where oil is heated in a pan or metal ladle before adding spices. This added to dishes such as dhal, infuses it with an extraordinary flavour that won’t be achieved any other way.
Add water to the pot and bring to boil. Add the peas – ensure they are properly washed and soaked. Soaking is optional but it cuts down on the cooking time. Remove any bad peas and rinse until the water is free from debris/dirt.
When water is at a rolling boil, add the peas, turmeric, onion, pimento, hot pepper and garlic. Cook for approximately 15 mins then add salt, pepper and ground geera and cover, reducing to a medium flame.
After about 30 mins, uncover – the peas should start to soften and some of the water would have reduced. The consistency of the dhal can be to your liking but traditionally
it is of a soupy consistency (on the thin side) but some like it with texture or chunky. Add more water as needed , bring to boil and cover.
After 15 minutes, the peas would have disintegrated more by now but you can swizzle if needed or blend. If too much water evaporates during the cooking process, add more water until it’s at a consistency that you are satisfied with. Taste for salt – cooking the pepper in it adds a nice spicy depth but its not overpowering because the seeds are not used.
In a hot pan or ladel, heat oil until you see slight ripples (this lets you know the oil is ready). Add the cumin seems, standing a safe enough distance so has to not get burnt as there will be some oil splatter when the cumin is added. Once it starts to turn slightly brown, add in the remaining garlic and hot pepper and stir until the garlic gets to a golden brown colour. Remove from fire, add to the split peas then cover immediately. This will prevent oil splatter and also help infuse the dhal.
When this has settled, remove the cover and stir over a low flame to fully incorporate. The geera seeds will float to the top and this is normal.
Pour over a bowl of rice or eat with your favourite roti