This dish is known as a dal. Dals are the Indian name for legumes, as well as the cooked dishes of legumes. They can be a main dish or a side, and are usually flavored with spices and aromatics. The legumes can be cooked whole or split. One of the attributes of dals such a lentils and split peas is that they don’t usually need to be soaked before cooking, though there is a school of nutritional thought that prefers to soak. Your choice–if you have the time it can’t hurt and probably makes the legumes more bioavailable to your body. You can use most dals here, from lentils to other split peas, though the color of the yellow split peas complements the winter squash nicely. Some squash, such as butternut and delicata have edible skins–peel or not as you see fit.
1 c dry yellow split peas
3 1/2 c water, broth, or stock, divided; plus extra if needed
1 T vegetable oil
1 – 1 1/2 c chopped onion
2 – 3 c (peeled) chopped winter squash
3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 t peeled, minced fresh ginger, or 1/8 t powdered ginger; or to taste
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground turmeric
pinch of cayenne
salt and black pepper, to taste
1. Combine the split peas and 3 cups of the water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer until the peas are tender, anywhere from 40 minutes to over an hour, depending on the age of the peas.
2. When the peas are beginning to become tender, heat the oil in a large skillet or other large saucepan. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onions have softened some and become translucent. Add the squash, garlic, ginger, spices, and seasonings, and cook, stirring, for a minute or so, until the spices are fragrant–don’t let the garlic burn. Add the remaining 1/2 c water and bring to the simmer. Cover the pan and cook until the wash is tender–this will depend on the size of the squash pieces. Add more water if necessary.
3. Stir in the cooked split peas. Taste for seasonings. Serve over rice or other cooked grain.