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

Split pigeon peas (Cajanus cajan) split-desi chickpea (Cicer arietinum) and split yellow peas (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. Pigeon pea is mainly grown for its dried mature seeds which can be sold whole or split. The split seeds have a yellow cotyledon.

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.

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).

Nutrition: Pigeon peas contain high levels of protein and the essential amino acids, methionine, lysine, and tryptophan, as well as dietary fibre.

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

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.

Immature Pigeon Pea Seeds and Pods

The immature seeds are always green, and are consumed as green pigeon peas. Immature pods are also used as fresh vegetable or in sauces especially in Africa and India. They can also be sold canned, or frozen.

y User: C.L. Ramjohn [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
The pigeon pea plant is a perennial shrub that tolerates drought and low soil fertility. It is used as a fodder or cover crop. It improves the soil though nitrogen fixation in the roots and mulch provided by the fallen leaves.

if you’ve never seen the pigeon pea plant, this video shows the morphology of the plant in detail

Split-Desi Chickpea (Cicer arietinum)

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 produce Split 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)

Split pea, also known as the Field Pea, Soup Pea or Matar Dal, belongs to the species Pisum sativum, together with the fresh garden peas, Snow-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.

The whole green or yellow peas are husked and split in half. The split peas can be green or yellow in colour and are about ¼ of an inch wide.

Green and Yellow Split Pea (Pisum sativum) myfavouritepastime.com

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).

Pea Soup

Pea soup is eaten in many parts of the world, including northern Europe, parts of middle Europe, Russia, Iran, Iraq, India, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and the Fiji Islands.

Pea soup can be cooked with with smoked ham,  pork belly or thick cut bacon, pork chops, smoked sausage or ham hocks, with vegetables like carrot, potato, celery, leek, onion and celeriac and herbs like bay leaf, thyme, parsley or oregano. It’s a matter of preference.

The processing of pea soup is an important industry in CanadaHabitant® soups have been prepared since 1918 using traditional recipes. The canned soup is made from split yellow peas.

Last Updated: June 14, 2018

Author: Liz

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

6 thoughts

    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
      Liz

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