Yellow Split Pea Soup

Yellow split pea soup (called Chana Dal or Chane ki Dal in North Indian cuisine) was one of my favorite dishes growing up. You can make it watery enough to just have as a soup on its own, or you can have a thicker version, and have it with some rice. I’m a big fan of the latter because I think it’s great comfort food on a cold winter evening.

Yellow split peas normally take a while to soften, so you should soak them in water for a few hours before cooking, or boil them for a few hours. Once they’ve been softened though, then it takes only around 20 minutes to make the entire soup. Top it off with some lemons and cilantro and serve warm over rice!

Yellow split pea soup, or chane ki dal

Yellow split pea soup, or chane ki dal


I normally like my dal a bit spicy, and if that’s not your style, I would suggest cutting down on the chili powder and garam masala.

  • 1 + 1/4 cup chana dal or yellow split peas
  • 1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 4 tablespoon tomato paste + 3/4 cup water or 1 cup grated fresh juicy tomato
  • salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1.5 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 pieces clove
  • fresh cilantro/coriander + some thinly sliced green chili pepper for garnish (optional)
  • fresh lemon juice to finish it off right before serving


  • Heat oil in a deep saucepan
  • Add the onions, cumin seeds and garlic into the saucepan and saute until onions have caramelized. Mix the ginger and the tomato paste into this mixture. Cook for 3-5 minutes on medium to high heat, making sure the mix at the bottom of the pan does not start to burn. So give it a stir once in a while.
  • When the oil starts to separate and most of the water has evaporated reducing the mix, add the lentils to the pan. Make sure these are just the lentils, and the water in which they were soaked/boiled has been drained.
  • Add 4-5 cups of water (depending in how soupy you want the lentils to be), cover and cook (or cook in the pressure cooker or slow cooker) until the lentils are tender but not mushed. Before covering the container, add all the spices in. Check after 15 minutes or so to see if the seasoning is to your taste.
  • When the lentils appear to be soft and the soup has attained the consistency that you want, add cilantro and fresh lemon juice. Serve hot with rice or flat bread or any crusty bread.

2 thoughts on “Yellow Split Pea Soup

  1. Reena says:

    Yum! I’m going to make this. Do you think it matters if I leave out the cumin seeds and just use ground cumin? Or do the seeds add a different flavor?

    • Suparna Chaudhry says:

      I doubt it’ll matter if you leave out the cumin seeds. It’s essentially the same flavor as ground cumin, I just use it because I like the texture of cumin seeds. Let me know how it turns out!

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