I have been making my way through my stash of dried legumes and arrived at whole yellow peas, which are used in Indian dishes by my family in North and South India. In the North, they’re called ‘matar’ in Hindi and in the South, they’re called ‘batani’ in Kannada. I don’t hear about these peas that often though here in Brooklyn and am surprised because they’re not only tasty but super good for you. They’re rich in protein and fiber and good for lowering cholesterol. I think their relative, the split yellow pea has taken the spotlight but I have to say I prefer the texture of the whole yellow pea better. When cooked, they still kind of keep their shape, as opposed to the split yellow pea that totally disintegrates. They have an earthy, creamy taste to them too.
I cooked these whole yellow peas in a North Indian style to make a curry with ginger, garlic, garam masala and a few other spices and finished it off with some lemon, cilantro and yogurt. This curry makes for a super hearty dinner and goes really well on rice or with a roti. You can also add more water to the recipe and turn it into a soup.
One tip if you want to cook your whole yellow peas faster is to soak them in water the night before. They will only take about 10 minutes to cook in a pressure cooker and I have given detailed instructions below on how to use a pressure cooker. If you are using a pot on the stove top, the peas will take about 60-90 minutes to cook. If that is your option, this recipe could be done in parts where you cook the peas on a weekend or a week night and finish the dish on another night.
1 cup dried whole yellow peas, soaked overnight
4 cups (pressure cooker); 7 cups (without pressure cooker)
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
pinch of hing or asafetida
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, grated
1 green chili or jalapeño, minced
1/3 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
juice of 1/2 lemon
Wash dried whole yellow peas in water and cover them with 2 inches of water to soak overnight.
Drain the dried whole yellow peas and put them into a pot with 7 cups of water if you are cooking cooking in a pot and 4 cups of water if you are cooking in a pressure cooker (instructions for using pressure cooking are below). Turn the heat to medium high heat. You will get some foaming on the top so skim that off with a spoon. When the foaming stops, mix in salt and the turmeric powder. When the peas are boiling, start to simmer them at lower heat until they are soft, about 60-90 minutes. If you are using a pressure cooker, you will cook them for about 10 minutes. If they are not completely soft at this point, boil them for a bit more but they will be close at this point.
In a separate pan, heat the oil under medium heat. Add in the cumin seed and asafetida. When the cumin seeds starts to brown and get fragrant, throw in your chopped onions. Let the onions cook until they are translucent. Add in your garlic, ginger and green chili and give a good stir. Cook for a few seconds and then add in the garam masala. Stir the pot well so you get the smell of the fried spices.
Add to the pot of fried onions and spices, the cooked dal. Mix well and add more water to get to your desired consistency and salt to taste. Cook together for 5 minutes at low-medium heat.
Turn off the stove. Add lemon juice and chopped cilantro and stir.
Serve in bowls with a dollop of yogurt with rice or roti on the side.
How to Pressure Cook Dried Whole Yellow Peas
Soak 1 cup dried whole yellow peas overnight.
Wash off peas and add to pressure cooker with 4 cups of water.
Bring peas beans to a boil, skimming off foam with a spoon in the process.
Turn heat to medium, add salt and turmeric and place cover and stopper on top.
Once the stopper starts to rock, cook peas for 10 minutes
Turn heat off.
Only after the pressure has completely released from cooker, should you open it (as a check, make sure the pressure valve is no longer raised).
Check that peas are cooked and if not, boil for a bit more with lid off.