Yellow split pea vs. yellow lentil
I saw a video where someone explained that yellow split peas and yellow lentils where the same thing, and this really confused me. Are they the same? If not, can they be used interchangeably? I have yellow split peas but I need yellow lentils and market doesn't carry them.
No, they aren't the same thing. There are also at least a few kinds of what are loosely called "yellow lentils" in English, quite different from each other.
People most often confuse "chana dal" with split peas, but chana dal are from a variety of chickpea, not "field peas." They're not the same as the big white chickpeas, but they taste a lot more like those than they do like "peas." Then there's "arhar or toor or tuvar" dal - also yellow, but also not split peas. Then again, there's moong dal - very small, shinier than the other two, and very, very different in flavor and texture from split peas - those are made from what Americans generlaly know as "mung beans." The quality is usually much lower than the Indian products (more bits of skin, less polished), but you can the split variety at many Asian grocery stores.
If you have no access to Indian stores at all, the split red lentils you can usually find in American supermarkets are the closest "authentic" substitute you're likely to find. They taste different, but South Asians will sometimes use the split orange lentils (masoor dal) in dishes calling for toor/arhar dal. Masoor dal cooks a lot faster, among other things, but the flavor is sort of similar. Certainly much closer than yellow or green split peas are to any of the S Asian dals.
I'm planning to go to Toronto's Little India today to pick up masoor dal, which some recipes I'm planning to make refer to as pink lentils. Now I'm confused - are they pink or orange?
I just bought Floyd Cardoz's cookbook, "one spice, two spice" and the recipe I'm planning to make using pink lentils sounds fabulous - "Stewed Pink Lentils with Spinach and Coconut."
PS: Masoor dal turns a tan/yellow color when it cooks, so it doesn't even look wildly different from the toor dal, if that's what the recipe is calling for.
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"Now I'm confused - are they pink or orange?"
They're way more orange than they are "pink" in the Easter egg sense, but they are I guess a sort of reddish orange. I don't know what that would be in the Pantone range, but in Crayola-speak, "salmon" is pretty close, though sometimes they're a pretty bright pumpkin-orange, too. ;)