Saturday, May 5, 2007

Small Yellow Split Peas (Chana dal) Review

4 stars (on a 5 star scale)
p. 167

I like it. This is a pretty strong statement, as I usually don't like dals. It's certainly better than the average dal I've had at a restaurant. And it's really easy to cook -- although it takes a while, it requires practically no attention.

The dal ends up quite soft and with a strong and pleasant ghee flavor. It still had texture: i.e., it isn't uniform mush.

Some notes on the ingredients:
  • I used chana dal. (The recipe allows yellow splits peas as an alternative.) Apparently they are different:
    This bean looks just like yellow split peas, but is quite different because it doesn't readily boil down to mush. It's more closely related to garbanzo beans, or chickpeas. The differences are that chana dal is younger, smaller, split, sweeter, and has a much lower glycemic index.
    That web page also contains some interesting stories about how some stores mislead customers and how other stores valiantly attempt to prevent confusion.
  • I used a packaged garam masala mix, not Jaffrey's recipe.
  • I used bottled ghee.
Regarding cooking, during the initial boiling phase, I removed scum as directed by the recipe -- perhaps a bit more than half a cup in total. Also, I had no problem with the dal sticking to the pot as the recipe warned may be an issue.

Another picture of the dal.
This one better represents its color but is slightly out of focus.

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