Autumn is still months away but when I was cleaning out the freezer I realized I still had quite a bit of pumpkin left over from last fall so I figured I would put it to use in an experimental recipe-
I took a basic North Indian Chana Dal recipe and tweaked the spices for a more Autumnal flavor. The caramelized maple scent of the fenugreek seed and bready, savory quality of the nigella compliment the earthy sweetness of the split peas. I use cassia cinnamon in this recipe instead of Ceylon cinnamon as it has a sweeter scent with vanilla undertones (due to it’s coumarin content). The pumpkin marries well with the peas and sweet and savory spices and imparts a rich, golden hue to the soup. This soup goes well with naan, roti or masala paratha.
Peas: Golden Split Pea and Pumpkin Soup
*The Thai chilies give this recipe a little kick- if you don’t like the heat you can skip them. A pinch of stevia extract works nicely in place of the jaggery.
*For a velvety smooth soup take the soup off the heat when the peas are all tender. Remove the cinnamon stick and tej patta and puree the soup (in batches) in a blender until smooth. Reheat and add the amchur and cilantro before serving.
- 2 cups yellow split peas (chana dal)
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 1 tsp each fenugreek seed (methi) and nigella (kalonji)
- 2-3 Indian bay leaves (tej patta)
- 2 Thai chilies (opt.)
- 1 3” stick cassia cinnamon
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped fine
- 2 cloves garlic (lahsun)
- ¼ tsp asafetida (hing)
- 1 tsp each chili, garam masala and turmeric powder (haldi)
- 3-4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped fine or pureed
- 1 ½ to 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 tbsp each of sea salt (or to taste) and jaggary (palm sugar)
- 1 tsp amchur powder
- 2-4 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
- Yogurt (preferably whole milk), thinly sliced green onions and freshly grated nutmeg or extra garam masala powder to garnish
- Soak split peas with baking soda in cold water for an hour or so. Drain peas, and rinse in several changes of water.
- Melt ghee over medium heat in a pot. Add the fenugreek, nigella, tej patta, cinnamon stick and Thai chilies (if using). When the seeds start to splutter add the onion and sauté a few minutes till onion begins to caramelize. Crush garlic directly into the pan and cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant and starts to turn golden (do not brown/burn the garlic).
- Add the asafetida, chili, garam masala and tumeric powders. Cook, stirring, until the ghee becomes golden hued- about a minute. Add the tomatoes and pumpkin puree and simmer until the sauce thickens- about 5 minutes.
- Add peas, a tsp of salt, the sugar and enough water to make a thick soup. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer until the peas are very tender- about 30-40 minutes. If you cook them long enough they will “melt” and develop an almost pureed quality. Add water if it isn’t soupy enough.
- Stir in amchur, remove from heat then add cilantro. Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt, green onions, and a dusting of grated nutmeg or extra garam masala.