Updated 4/27/2020

Guyanese style dhal is made with yellow split peas, curry powder, turmeric and roasted spices. There are many variations in taste, texture and look of dhal. All equally tasty.

My mom taught me how to make dhal when I was 11 or 12. Back then we boiled the split peas on the stove top until it was nice and soft, then we would blend everything together using a dhal gutney (a simple wooden utensil used when making dhal). Today, I cook my dhal in the pressure cooker and it ready in 20 mins and sometimes my instant pot. Click here for the Instant Pot Dhal Recipe.  I don’t have a dhal gutney (I know, I know) but I use a hand held blender to blend everything up at the end of the cooking process, for a really smooth dhal!

The main ingredients for Guyanese Style Dhal

I have only ever used yellow split peas for my dhal. However, yellow split peas is hardly ever available in the regular supermarkets and we sometimes have to go to Caribbean, Mexican or Indian Markets to find it. Recently my mother in law used green split peas to make her dhal and to both our surprise it tasted almost exactly as it does with yellow split peas.

Chunkaying the Dhal

“Chunkay” is the Guyanese term used for adding the roasted spices and garlic cooked in hot oil to the finished dhal. This step is the final step in traditional dhal making.

My mom chunkays her dhal by roasting whole cumin seeds in a stainless steel ladle over an open flame. When they are roasted she adds oil to the ladel, then chopped garlic and continues to cook over the flame until the garlic is a rich roasted color.

When she is done roasting the cumin (geera) and garlic she adds that super hot oil, directly to the boiling pot of dhal. Gives it a good stir and her dhal is ready. If you are not at that expert level of dhal making like my mom is you can do like me and roast your ingredients for the chunkay in a small frying pan. Plus I have an electric stove, so no open flames for me.

If you are like my family and don’t like your dhal with whole roasted cumin seeds and chunks of “burnt” garlic floating in your dhal you can use an immersion blender to blend away all of that into a very smooth dhal. Give this recipe a try today!

The Printable Guyanese Style Dhal Recipe

Guyanese Style Dhal {Whole30}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Yellow split peas cooked with curry powder and spices into a delicious protein packed side dish.
Recipe type: Whole30, Vegan
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1 cup yellow split peas, washed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ small chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic (whole) 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin or 1 teaspoon geera
  1. In a pressure cooker, add water, split peas, curry powder, onions, whole garlic and salt
  2. Mix together and pressure cook on high heat for 20 minutes or when split peas are completely soft and no longer grainy
  3. Alternatively, if you don't have a pressure cooker you can put all the ingredients in a large stock pot and cook until the split peas is soft. It will take about 40 minutes.
  4. You can also make Dhal in your Instant Pot (click HERE for the recipe)
Chunkay the dhal:
  1. Add whole cumin to frying pan on medium heat and toast until dark brown in color, toss often to avoid burning
  2. Then add the oil to the toasted cumin, followed by the cloves of finely chopped garlic and cook until the garlic is almost burnt
  3. Next add the cooked garlic, oil and roasted cumin to the cooked split peas
  4. Give a good stir and your dhal is ready!
Optional Steps:
  1. Using a hand blender the dhal until the garlic and roasted cumin seeds are completely mixed into the split peas
  2. If you don't have a hand blender you can blend with a whisk, let the dhal sit for at least 30 mins and then strain with a tight sieve to remove the bits of burnt garlic and whole cumin seeds

Save it for Later

Dhal Pairs really well with:

Fried Baigan / Sautéed Eggplant:

Lamb Curry



  1. Rowena January 15, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Man… Every time I come on your blog page I get hungry…doesn’t matter what you’re cooking up…looks sooo good…

    1. Metemgee January 15, 2013 at 6:43 pm

      That’s the idea. 🙂

    1. Metemgee September 6, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Glad you liked it! Thanks for trying my recipe.

  2. Haleema January 26, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    what can i use if i don’t have a pressure cooker… i live with my friend and well she’s american and said “a what” when i asked if she had a pressure cooker

    1. Metemgee January 27, 2014 at 9:55 am

      You can just boil it in a regular pot. It will take about an hour or so to get it to the right consistency.

  3. Aleya September 7, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Hi, thx for posting your recipes. What kind of pressure cooker do you use stove-top or electric? And do you find a difference between the two?


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