In Trinidad, the word "dal" is used to exclusively mean yellow split peas, but in Hindi "dal" refers to any kind of dried split pea. This varies from the original Indian version because it omits curry leaves, tomato, lemon juice and asafoetida or hing, a spice commonly added to lentil and bean dishes. While rice is ubiquitous in Trinidad, the variety used on the island is not Indian basmati but shorter-grain Carolina-style rice.

EatingWell Magazine, March 2022


Credit: Penny De Los Santos

Recipe Summary

30 mins
2 hrs 40 mins




Instructions Checklist
  • To prepare dal: Soak split peas in 3 cups water in a large bowl for 2 hours. Drain.

  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add cumin seeds and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the split peas, the remaining 2 cups water, chile pepper and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to maintain a simmer, cover and simmer, skimming off foam as necessary, until the split peas are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes. Mash with a fork or potato masher, adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup total), until the peas are the consistency of oatmeal.

  • Meanwhile, prepare rice: Place rice in a deep bowl and add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Swirl the rice around with your hand until the water is cloudy. Carefully pour off the water. Repeat four more times and then drain the rice in a colander. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the drained rice, butter and salt and stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the rice is tender but not mushy, 20 to 25 minutes.

  • Remove the chile from the dal and serve with the rice.


Scotch bonnet chiles are a common ingredient in Trinidadian cuisine. They are some of the hotter peppers on the Scoville scale. Keep white vinegar handy to wipe down surfaces that the pepper has touched—including your hands—before washing with soap and water.Carolina Gold rice is a flavorful, long-grain variety that first arrived in the Carolinas with enslaved people in the 1600s. (The yellow-hued crop became known as "the golden seed.") It has a fluffy texture that's a favorite in low-country cooking. Find it with other rices at the grocery store or online. 

Nutrition Facts

Generous 1/3 cup dal & 2/3 cup rice
276 calories; protein 9g; carbohydrates 47g; dietary fiber 9g; sugars 1g; fat 5g; saturated fat 1g; cholesterol 5mg; sodium 443mg; potassium 413mg.