Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Robyn Valarik
Total Time
40 Mins
Serves 4 (makes 4 cups) (serving size: 1 cup)

Back home in South India, Sunset reader Kavita Aiyar's mom made traditional lemon rice scattered with channa dal (a yellow, lentil-like legume). At her home in Silicon Valley, Kavita cooks quinoa instead of rice and adds spinach or other greens, "basically California-izing it," she says. She suggests split peas instead of the dal because they're easier to find. You can serve the recipe as a side dish or a vegan entrée.

How to Make It

Step 1

Simmer split peas with 2 cups water in a small saucepan until just tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry on a towel.

Step 2

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, cover, and cook until they pop, 1 minute. Stir in cumin; cook a few seconds until sizzling, then stir in split peas, curry leaves, chile, turmeric, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring often, until split peas start to turn light golden, 2 minutes. Scrape into a bowl.

Step 3

Add spinach to frying pan, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain any liquid. Stir in quinoa, split-pea mixture, and 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice. Add more lemon juice and salt to taste. Scatter cilantro on top.

Step 4

*Find curry leaves at Indian markets.

Ratings & Reviews

Vickisue's Review

March 18, 2013

greyout's Review

January 13, 2013

ReginaPhelps's Review

December 17, 2011
I added 1/2 a onion, and doubled the spinach..we are a vegetarian household and we loved it...

TerryMonaghan's Review

August 01, 2011

Tobiko's Review

May 30, 2011
would add 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper to the chile and turmeric step; would also boil the peas and quinoa in salted water.

portland's Review

May 28, 2011
i liked all the separate items in this recipe, just not all together. the split peas added a nice texture, the spinach was tasty fried, the quinoa was good, but in my opinion, the overall undercurrent of spiciness just didn't work.