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stewing Indian
Indian Vegetable Stew with Yellow Dal

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Summer vegetables are cooked in a spicy golden sauce, or dal, made from dried yellow peas. The flavors of the spices lean toward the hot and pungent rather than the sweet. Serve the dal with simply prepared rice.

The inspiration for this dish came from Julie Sahni's recipe for Gujrati Dal in her book Classic Indian Cooking. Her version, which is very delicious, uses fewer vegetables but has a more complex dal, one made with a variety of legumes.

Yield: Serves four to six



  • ¾ cup yellow split peas
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 serrano chilies or 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped


  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 Japanese eggplants or ½ globe eggplant
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 4 tablespoons clarified butter 
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ small cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, for garnish


Sort through the peas, remove any chaff or small stones, and rinse them well; then cover them with water and leave them to soak at least 2 hours ahead of time so that the peas will not continue to absorb liquid and thicken the sauce once it is made. Pour off the soaking water, and add 3 cups fresh water and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; then simmer until the peas are completely soft and have fallen apart, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly; then blend to make a smooth puree. Measure the amount of puree, and add water to bring it up to 3½ cups.

While the peas are cooking, prepare the vegetables. Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for a count of 10 seconds; then place them in a bowl of cold water. Remove the peels; then halve them and gently squeeze out the seeds. Cut them into large pieces. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes, and cut the zucchini and the carrots into batons or sticks about 1½ inches long. Whatever shapes you make, keep them large enough so that after cooking they will have a clear, distinct appearance on the plate.

When you are ready to cook the stew, have the dried spices ready on the stove, and a lid handy, in case the mustard seeds splatter and pop. Heat the clarified butter in a large wide skillet, and when it is hot, add the mustard seeds. Cook a brief 5 seconds or so, until the mustard seeds turn grayish and begin to explode; then add the cumin seeds, and after another 5 seconds the onion. Saute for one minute over high heat; then add the tomatoes and the eggplant. Cook 2 or 3 minutes before adding the cauliflower and the carrots. Stir everything together; then add the pureed yellow peas. Add the salt, stir, and cook over medium-low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Add the zucchini during the last 10 minutes, so that it will stay bright and somewhat firm.

Taste again for salt, and add more if necessary. Serve the vegetables and dal garnished with the fresh cilantro.

© 1987 Deborah Madison and Edward Espe Brown

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 6 servings.

236kcal (12%)
68mg (7%)
37mg (62%)
271mcg RAE (9%)
20mg (7%)
422mg (18%)
5g (25%)
9g (14%)
2mg (13%)

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