Simple Trini Dhal and Rice Recipe

Dhal and rice are a popular Trini lunch that is so simple to make.

With just eight ingredients, you can make a satisfying, tasty lunch to please even the pickiest eaters.

Of course, you can pair dhal and rice with lots of vegetable and meat side dishes like curries, stews and more.

Dhal and rice ingredients

To make this simple lunch, I often use:

  • rice like white, jasmine, basmati, brown, red and more
  • yellow split peas (or dhal)
  • garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • turmeric powder
  • whole cumin (or geera) seeds
  • oil
  • water

Optional ingredients can include:

  • onion
  • Caribbean green seasoning with chadon beni, thyme and cilantro
  • cumin (geera) powder
  • amchar masala powder

I like jasmine rice so I often use it to make my dhal and rice. Of course, if you prefer a more nutritious rice with lots of extra fiber, try brown rice or red rice.

For more lunch ideas, check out all these Trini recipes usually served for lunch.

How to make dhal and rice

Make the rice

Step 1: Place a large pot on medium heat with about 3 cups of water. Cover and leave to come to a rolling boil.

Step 2: In the meantime, check the rice, removing any bad grains or tiny impurities. Then, wash the rice several times to remove any dust or dirt.

Step 3: When the water is boiling, add the rice carefully to the pot. Mix to make sure the grains are not sticking to the base. Also, stir in a teaspoon of salt.

Step 4: Leave uncovered to boil until soft. This white jasmine rice takes about 12 minutes to completely cook.

Step 5: Once cooked, I usually strain the rice, rinse with cold water and fluff everything with a fork. I read somewhere that rice should be rinsed after cooking to remove any arsenic in it. I’m not sure how true that is but I still do it just to be sure. Rinsing with cold water also cools down the rice faster and makes it less sticky.

Set the rice aside until you are ready to serve – though you can fluff it with a fork occasionally as it cools.

finished jasmine rice

Make the dhal

You can make dhal by either boiling in a large pot or pressure cooking it.

Step 1A: For boiling, place a large pot on the stove on medium heat and add 3 cups of water. Wash the yellow split peas a few times, removing any bad peas.

Step 2A: Add the peas to the water plus a teaspoon of salt, turmeric and pepper. You can add any optional ingredients like onions and Caribbean green seasoning at this point.

Step 3A: Boil until the peas are completely soft. This can take about 30 to 40 minutes.

Step 1B: If you are pressure cooking, add the yellow split peas to your cooker with the water, salt, turmeric and pepper.

pressure cooking dhal

Step 2B: Pressurize and cook for 10 minutes.

Step 3B: Leave to depressurize before opening the pressure cooker. Then, jump to Step 5.

pressure cooked dhal

Blend the dhal

Pressure cooking the dhal causes the peas to completely liquify into a soup-like texture (see the photo above). That’s the consistency you want.

Step 4A: But, boiling does not cause the peas to break apart. So, you should blend the dhal once it is cooked with your immersion blender or dhal ghoutnie.

Chunkay the dhal

Chunkaying is a old Hindi term used to describe mixing hot, roasted garlic and spices into food.

Step 5: Chunkaying dhal involves heating sliced garlic and whole cumin (geera) seeds in oil until the garlic turns dark brown.

Step 6: Then, the garlic, cumin and oil are added and mixed into the dhal. Be careful though, the hot oil sputters and can cause burns.

chunkaying the dhal

That’s it! Your dhal is done and so is your rice.

finished dhal for dhal and rice

Here’s a quick video on dhal, rice and fried tomatoes:

What to serve with dhal and rice

Trini dhal and rice is so versatile you can serve it alone or with most curried and stewed vegetarian and meat side dishes. Dhal, rice and bhagi made with some type of spinach is a very popular vegan combination. Tomato choka, curry bodi or fry bodi are other great choices.

For meat options, dhal, rice and curry chicken or fried fish are common as are brown stew chicken or curry duck.

As you can see, the dish is versatile.

plated dhal and rice

More peas please!

Dhal and rice recipe

dhal and rice featured image
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5 from 1 vote

Simple Trini dhal and rice

Dhal and rice are a popular lunch combo in the Caribbean. It is made with few ingredients like rice, yellow split peas, garlic, turmeric powder and more. Plus it is so simple and quick to make without sacrificing delicious flavor.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time22 minutes
Total Time37 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Caribbean, Indian
Keyword: dhal, dhal and rice
Servings: 4
Calories: 414kcal
Author: Ros Singh



  • 1 cup rice (like white jasmine rice)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups water


  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 2 cloves garlic (sliced)
  • 1 pepper like pimento pepper (chopped)
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp whole cumin (geera) seeds
  • 1 – 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cups water


  • Pressure cooker (optional)



  • Place a large pot on medium heat.
  • Add 3 cups of water.
  • Cover and leave to boil.
  • Wash the rice 3 or 4 times (removing any bad grains).
  • Add to boiling water.
  • Add 1 tsp of salt.
  • Stir occasionally.
  • Cook until soft (approximately 12 minutes).
  • Strain.
  • Set aside to cool.


  • Place pressure cooker on medium heat.
  • Add 3 cups of water, turmeric powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Wash the yellow split peas 3 or 4 times (removing any bad peas).
  • Add to cooker.
  • Cover and pressurize.
  • Place the weight on the cooker, lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and depressurize.

Without pressure cooker

  • Place a large pot on medium heat.
  • Add 3 cups of water, turmeric powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Wash the peas.
  • Add to the pot, stirring occasionally.
  • Cook until soft, approximately 30 – 40 minutes.
  • Once soft, blend with immersion blender or dhal ghoutnie.

Chunkaying the dhal

  • Add oil, cumin seeds and sliced garlic to a small pot or ladle.
  • Place on low heat.
  • Stir often until the garlic becomes roasted and dark brown.
  • Add the hot oil to the dhal.
  • Stir.
  • Serve hot with rice and any sides for lunch.

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