Stewed Potatoes with Yellow Split Peas

Urulikazhangu Kootu

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

660 Curries

By Raghavan Iyer

Published 2008

  • About

During my childhood days, this was a favorite curry of mine, and when my mother made puffy pooris to go with it, it was all I would eat—finishing my dinner with a glass of spiced buttermilk, a must after any meal in southern India because of its stomach-soothing qualities.


  • ½ cup yellow split peas (chana dal), picked over for stones
  • 2 medium-size russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into ¼-inch cubes, and submerged in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning
  • 1 small red onion, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons Sambhar masala
  • teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 12 to 15 medium-size to large fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Ghee or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon skinned split black lentils (cream-colored in this form, urad dal), picked over for stones
  • 6 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles, stems removed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground asafetida


  1. Place the split peas in a medium-size saucepan. Fill the pan halfway with water and rinse the peas by rubbing them between your fingertips. The water will become cloudy. Drain this water. Repeat three or four times, until the water remains relatively clear; drain. Now add 3 cups water.
  2. Drain the potatoes and add them to the split peas. Stir in the onion, Sambhar masala, salt, turmeric, and curry leaves, and bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Then lower the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the split peas and vegetables are tender and the sauce is much thicker than when you started, 30 to 35 minutes.
  3. While the split peas are cooking, heat the ghee in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, cover the skillet, and cook until the seeds have stopped popping (not unlike popcorn), about 30 seconds. Add the lentils and chiles and stir-fry until the lentils turn golden-brown and the chiles blacken, 15 to 20 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle in the asafetida, which will sizzle and cook upon contact.
  4. Once the split peas and vegetables are ready, pour in the spiced oil mixture and stir once or twice. Continue to simmer the curry, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the flavors blend, about 5 minutes. Then serve.