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Quarantine Pigeon Pea Dal (Mitti Handi Dal)

  • Author: Meaghan Thomas
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: Big pot of dal - enough for 4-6 people


Warm comfort food with layers of flavor (add paratha for the win!).

This recipe is based on Food & Wine’s Buttery Pigeon Pea Dal, but made with items we had on hand, since during COVID-19 Quarantine, we don’t run out to the market to get items we’re short on.


  • 1.5 cup split yellow pigeon peas (aka “toor dal”), soaked in water for 30 mins then rinsed
  • 2 serrano or jalapeño peppers (we used serrano peppers from a jar of giardiniera), minced
  • 23 Tablespoons Pinch Curry Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons ghee or canola oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • Salt
  • Basmati rice
  • Naan or Paratha (we used Trader Joe’s frozen paratha) optional


  1. Get that rice cooking.
  2. Put pigeon peas in a pot with 4 cups water and a pinch of salt, bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer over low heat until the peas are tender, but not falling apart, about 15-20 minutes
  4. While pigeon peas are simmering, grab a saucepan and heat up the ghee or canola oil for a minute
  5. Add onion, garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring until the garlic and onion is slightly brown, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add in peppers, curry powder and tomato paste plus 1/4 cup water. Simmer until the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes
  7. When pigeon peas are done simmering, add them – with their cooking liquid – to the saucepan and simmer until the dal thickens, about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally (don’t let it burn on the bottom)
  8. While that simmers (stir occasionally) – heat up your frozen naan or paratha (we keep Trader Joe’s naan and paratha in our freezer for this)
  9. Season with salt, stir in the butter and serve over rice with warm paratha. Enjoy!
  • Cuisine: Indian
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