What is the difference between Split Yellow Pea, Split Chickpea and Split Pigeon Pea?

Split pigeon peas or Toor Dal (Cajanus cajan) split-desi chickpea or Chana Dal (Cicer arietinum) and split yellow peas or Matar Dal (Pisum sativum) are commonly referred to as split yellow peas, although they belong to different species in the bean family leguminosae (Fabaceae).

Split Pigeon Pea (Cajanus cajan) aka Toor Dal

Common Names: Toor dal,Togari bele, Congo pea, Angola Pea, Red gram, No-eye peatropical green pea, Gungo pea, Puerto Rico Pea; Pois cajanor or pois d’Angole (French)

Here is a photo of split and whole pigeon pea. The split pigeon peas are always yellow in colour and may be easily confused with split chickpeas (Chana Dal) or split yellow pea (Matar dal, Field Pea).

Pigeon pea is mainly grown for its dried mature seeds which can be sold whole or split. The whole pigeon pea seeds are round to ellipsoid to squarish in shape, 4-9 x 3-8 x 3-6mm in size and can be white, cream, brown, purplish to almost black in colour and plain or mottled.

Nutrition of Pigeon Peas

Pigeon peas contain high levels of protein and the essential amino acids, methioninelysine, and tryptophan, as well as dietary fibre.

Culinary Use of Pigeon Peas

split pigeon pea is popular in India for making ‘dhal’ or ‘Dal and for making a spice blend called ‘Sambhars.’ In Africa, it’s used in sauces and stews. Pigeon peas may also be used instead of soya bean to make tempeh or tofu and the seeds can also be sprouted.

Main Producers of Pigeon Peas

The main producer of pigeon pea is India, where it originated, and has been grown and eaten for thousands of years. Other major producers in Africa are, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It’s also grown in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa and Central America.

Split-Desi Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) aka Chana Dal 

Common Names: Split-Desi Chickpea, Yellow Gram, Chana Dal, Bengal Gram, Kala Chana, Chala boot

Here is a photo of whole and split Desi chickpea. The dark seed coat of the Desi-type of chickpea  is removed and the cotyledon is split to produceSplit Yellow Gram or Chana Dahl

There are several processing plants in Saskatchewan, Canada, which dehull and split Desi chick peas (North American Grain Corporation)

Split Desi-chickpea resembles the split yellow pea (Pisum sativum, Matar Dal), it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. It’s used to make dal, (daal, dhal) in India but is also popular in Middle Eastern Cuisine.

Split Desi chickpea is also ground into chickpea flour also called Besan or Yellow Gram Flour.

Split Yellow Pea (Pisum sativum) aka Matar Dal

Below is a photo of whole yellow peas and Split yellow Peaswith the testa (seed coat) removed. The whole yellow peas are husked and split in half.

Yellow Split pea, also known as the Field Pea, Soup Pea, dry pea or Matar Dal, belongs to the species Pisum sativum, together with the fresh garden peasSno-Pea and Sugar Snap Pea.

The field pea (Pisum sativum) is a cool-season crop grown for its  mature dried edible seeds, which can be marketed whole or split or ground into flour. The dried whole peas can be yellow or green in colour.

Split yellow peas have a mild, earthy flavour and soft texture. Since the mature seeds are rich in protein they can be cooked as a vegetable or added to soups and stews

Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of yellow and green split field peas.

Both Split Yellow and Split Green Peas are used to make soup. The split green pea is used to make the famous Dutch Pea Soup called Erwtensoep (also called Snert).

Nutrition of Split Yellow Peas

Split yellow peas are high in protein and low in fat. They contain the highest amount of dietary fibre, with 27 grams fibre per 100 gram portion.

100g (3.5oz) split yellow pea has: calories 370; Fat: 0%; Carbohydrate: 67g (Fibre 27g, sugar 3g); Protein: 27g and provides 25% RDA of iron. (Bulk Barn)

Last Updated: September 22, 2019

Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

18 thoughts

  1. Hello! Thank you for the information. I have a diabetic dog and have been making him a homemade stew for the past three years using chana dal. Today I opened the Amazon package as it’s time to make the food again and noticed they sent me toor dal instead. Nutrition wise, and glycemic index wise, do you know if they are the same? I have to make the food by tomorrow so I don’t have enough time to order the correct ones. If you can’t answer or don’t feel comfortable, no worries! Thank you 🙂

  2. I have a recipe which calls for “yellow lentils” and instructions to cook for 20 minutes. Which of the above are yellow lentils?

    1. none of these are yellow lentils. Yellow Lentil is called Moong Dal ( the ones which are green (not black or grey) as whole, tiny kidney shape beans, the broken and testa removed version is Yellow Lentil. Its very light on stomach to digest.

      1. Thank you for chipping in. In botanic terms however, we call Moong Dal – the green one Vigna radiata and the black one Vigna mungo.
        But in India- all split pulses are called dal? or are all split pulses called lentils? I would be happy to know. Thanks

  3. I’d like to echo Umesh’s sentiment! I don’t think I’d ever seen whole arhar/toor daal ie pigeon pea, so I was feeling less than confident in my assertion that lentil only refered to masoor – thanks for providing the picture that proves arhar/toor is not “yellow lentil”

    The note under the top picture was slightly confusing to read “….split yellow peas … are commonly referred to as split yellow peas” 🙂
    I think I finally understand that you’re saying that all three are commonly (?!!) referred to as split yellow peas, even though all three belong to different species under the leguminosae/fabaceae family!

    1. Yes Mailika you are right. In this article there are three species; Pigeon pea/toor dal (Cajanus cajun), Chickpea/chana dal (Cicer arietinu) and Spit yellow pea/ Matar dal (Pisum sativum) and all of them are commonly referred to as split yellow peas. I am glad the article help you understand. Thank you and wish you all the best!!!

  4. Hi Liz,
    Thanks for putting together such clear and well researched information!
    I need a low FODMAP diet and apparently split chick peas can be cooked to leach the fructans out but yellow split peas are high in fructans so I needed to find out whether there was a difference – and your blog was perfect!
    Thanks again,

    1. Hi Bridget
      Omg I am so glad this information helped in your decision making. And thanks for giving me me information about fructans. I shall do more research on that an probably write an article. I wish you all the best and thank you for the feedback!!!

  5. I ate all of these different kinds of “dal” growing up in India, but didn’t understand the difference as an adult. Until now! Thanks for clarifying the differences so well while also connecting with the Indian culture.

    1. Ha ha. I cook them all, so I know them. Canada grows a lot of pulses (lentils, beans and peas and is the worlds largest exporter of lentils and peas!
      Virtual Hugs

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