In springtime, according to our digestive fire and constitutional nature, we can incorporate a little more of the lighter, rougher and dryer qualities in our meals because Kapha dosha, the water and earth elements, is at its peak. Yellow Split Peas are a good source of the astringent taste and are therefore Ruksha or drying. They also have a bit of the Khara or rough quality. Turmeric is drying and warm, while fresh ginger adds some umph to your digestive fire. These qualities can be helpful during mid-Spring when accumulated Kapha is in its liquid stage after the late-winter/early spring build up.
This recipe is my take on Madhur Jaffrey’s ”Yellow Split Peas with Thyme and Cumin” in her book “World Vegetarian.” A fusion of Mediterranean and Indian/Ayurvedic spices celebrating Spring, it can be made in the slow-cooker, the pressure cooker or on the stove top. Since my days are pretty busy, I like to throw the peas into the slow cooker with the water, salt, ginger and turmeric, cook on low during the day and when I come home, all I have to do is sauté the rest of the spices, mix them in and voila dinner is ready.
¾ cup of yellow split peas
4 cups of water
4 to 5 coins of fresh turmeric or ½ teaspoon of powdered turmeric
4 coins of ginger
½ teaspoon of pink Himalayan sea salt
Put the above ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pot that has a lid and bring to a boil. Cover and turn down the heat—simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes. If you pre-soak the peas (recommended for those with a fussy digestive fire) then the time will be reduced to about 20 to 25 minutes. You’ll know the peas are done when they’ve cooked down to a velvety puree.
Or, just put the above ingredients in a slow cooker with 4 to 5 cups of water, turn on low and let it cook 7 to 8 hours.
While you’re waiting for the peas to cook, or when you get home after slow cooking the peas all day, chop up the following:
¼ of a large onion—diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Any combination of parsley, oregano and/or thyme
Go to you spice cupboard and get:
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon of Ajwain seeds
When your peas are cooked, remove them from the heat. Melt some ghee or heat some olive oil in a sauté pan, throw in the seeds, toss in the ghee. Quickly add the onions and stir. When the onions are starting to look translucent, add the garlic and the chopped fresh herbs. Saute until the fresh herbs and garlic are fragrant. Then add the whole mix to your peas and stir well. Taste and adjust the salt to your liking. You might also want to stir in a bit more ghee or olive oil.
In my opinion, ghee works best in this dish, but olive oil works well too. Keep in mind that ghee is cooling and yet helps boost the digestive fire. Olive oil is warming.
If you are trying to follow a Sattvic diet and are not eating onions or garlic, you can substitute a pinch or two of asafotida (aka hing) for them. Just heat your fat and once it is hot, remove the pan from the heat—immediately throw in the fennel, cumin and ajwain and they will start to brown. Toss in a small pinch or two of asafotida (a little goes a long way). Once your seeds are golden brown and fragrant, add them to your split peas and stir.
Vata-predominant folks can enjoy this occasionally with more ghee, making sure that the beans are soaked overnight and well cooked; Pitta-predominant folks can have it a bit more often; and Kapha-predominant folks can savor this dish often and even spice it up a bit with a minced green chili, sauteed with the spices at the end.