In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

25 Minutes Red Lentil Dhal.

I LOVE Dhal.. that rich and thick yellow split peas soup we make in the Caribbean, based on recipes brought to our shores by Indentured Laborer’s from India almost 200 years ago. However, since I dislike using a pressure cooker, I find that I don’t have the patience to wait the 1.5 hours needed. This brings us to Red Lentils, if you enjoy the taste and texture of yellow split peas Dhal, but want in in under 30 minutes.. stay tuned.

You’ll Need…

3 cups red lentils
1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
9 -11 cups water
2 small scallion (chopped)
3/4 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8-10 cloves garlic (smashed – divided)
1/2 medium onion (diced)
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon geera (cumin) seeds

Important! If doing this recipe gluten free, please go through the full list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs.

Bring the water to a boil in a deep pot on a high heat.

In the meantime wash the lentils by rinsing in cool water, drain and repeat until the water runs clear.

As the water comes to a boil, add the washed lentils, followed by the tumeric and bring back to a boil.

When you got that bubble going, skim off that froth at the top and discard.

Reduce to a rolling boil and add the black pepper, scallions (adds a lovely touch), salt, onion, scotch bonnet pepper (optional or any spicy pepper you like or have access to) and 5 cloves of the garlic.

It will cook on that rolling boil for 20 minutes with the lid slightly ajar… or until the lentils are falling apart.

I used a traditional swizzle stick (see image), but you can use a whisk or stick blender and get it smooth and silky. If using a stick blender, I’d recommend that you pulse or if you go continuous it will go frothy. BTW, I turned off the stove at this point as it was fully cooked.

Once smooth, taste for salt and adjust to your liking, then it’s time to chunkay (temper) the dhal to give it that finishing layer of flavor.

Heat the oil in a small pan on a medium flame, add the garlic and cumin seeds. Heat until the garlic burns (yes the only time I’ll recommend burning garlic) and you see smoke from the hot oil

All you have to do now is pour that oily mixture into the pot with the dhal, then stir. You’re done. Quick right?

An amazing side to rice and curry dishes or as I normally do.. as a cup of soup that warms my soul. I always make a big batch and freeze into containers for those nights I get my Dhal craving.

Drop me your comments below, tag me on Instagram and don’t forget you can now get my cookbook – The Vibrant Caribbean Pot, 100 Traditional And Fusion Recipes @

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  1. Krishna Parsanlall
    June 29, 2021 / 8:49 pm

    Hello Chris,

    As a fellow Trinidadian I just wanted to say that I am very glad that you are doing such a great job promoting the food and culture of our beautiful island. A couple of suggestions for you. I do a channa and yellow split pea dahl. I soak the channa overnight and cook the yellow split peas and channa together. I have also done carrot and yellow split pea dahl. Carille, green pepper, green split pea dahl. I also saw a dish in Singapore where the combination was yellow split peas, carrot, black bean, potatoes and red bell pepper. In this case they included star anise and whole black pepper in the chunkay. There are so many different styles and ingredients that can be used. Keep up the good work.

  2. Mark
    February 18, 2021 / 9:28 pm

    I ABSOLUTELY have to try this! My wife and I (her more than me) are on a vegan diet and this looks like something I need. Thanks!

  3. Audrey McIntyre
    February 11, 2021 / 5:38 pm

    I have been cooking since I was 8 yrs old.What can I say I am a foodie.Chris I love following and cooking your recipes.From “What’s up soldiers “to the final touches, I am there.I have been laid off since March of 2020 so there is a lot of cooking going on and alot of dirty dishes.This would come in so handy.Have a blessed day.

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