Split peas, or "dal," as they are called in India, belong to the lentil family. There are three kinds—the green, which very much resembles an ordinary dried pea; the yellow, and the red. In this country we only see two kinds—the green and the yellow. The red are more frequently seen in India, and have a more delicate flavor.
Lentils are an old, old food. We read of Esau selling his birthright for a mess of red pottage, or a mess of red dal. Then later we read of the Hebrew children refusing to eat the king's meat, and growing rosy and fat on their daily portion of lentils.
Lentils are rich in protein. About twenty-five per cent of their food value is protein. They are richer in protein than beans, and are more digestible.
During Lent in the early days of the Roman Church, lentils were the chief article of food, because of meat being forbidden. Because of this the name lentil was given to them.
Split peas are used universally throughout India. Several recipes have already been given (Nos. 23 and 7), but a few others will be noted.
Soak a cup of peas over night and boil in three cups of water. Cook until peas are soft, then mash them quite smoothly. Then dilute with stock. This stock may be made from bones and cold meat or fresh meat. Fry an onion and add to the soup, and when ready to serve add minced mint leaves and little squares of toast, fried very crisp.
Prepare the dal as above, except instead of diluting with stock dilute with milk.
First soak a cup of split peas for about three hours. Then put them on to stew with two whole onions. When about half done add a cup of rice. The water must be about two inches above the split peas and rice. Cook until rice and peas are soft and the water is absorbed. Pour over all some melted butter or crisco. Usually kidgeri is served with poached eggs. Sometimes eggs are hard-boiled and sliced over the kidgeri after it is dished.
Soak a cup of split peas for several hours, then fry with two thinly-sliced onions and a cup of rice. When slightly brown, cover with water and boil. The water should be three inches above the peas and rice; also add a little bag of mixed spices. Fry some meat in a separate pan. It may be either beefsteak, Hamburg, or mutton. When rice and peas are soft, place a layer of meat in a dish and cover with a layer of the rice and peas. Repeat until all are used, being careful to have the rice and peas on top. Steam together and serve with cocoanut and fried onions sprinkled over the top.
Dal Bhat is the universal breakfast dish all over India. Prepare as for split pea curry (No. 23), but omit the curry powder, if desired.
Often it is prepared by frying minced meat with the onions before the peas are added.
No food known gives as much real value for the cost as do lentils. The green and yellow ones can be obtained very easily at any large grocery, and we urge all to give them a trial.