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Indian Split Pea Soup with Seared Shrimp and Fresh Tomato Relish
The flavors of dal are so bright and wonderful, why not dress it up with a fresh relish and a trio of spicy seared shrimp

for the spicy shrimp
12 large shrimp, shelled
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom seed
1/4 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons light vegetable oil, such as safflower
for the soup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup finely minced onion (about 2 medium onions)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely minced jalapeno (adjust to desired heat)
2 cups yellow split peas, washed
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
2 quarts chicken stock plus additional if necessary
for the relish
1 cup finely diced fresh tomato
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves plus additional for garnish
1/2 teaspoon minced jalapeno
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1. Make the spicy shrimp: In a bowl toss the shrimp with the cumin, cardamom, garlic, coriander, cinnamon, clove, salt, and cayenne pepper. Marinate, refrigerated, for 1 hour.
2. Make the soup: In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the split peas, coriander, cumin, celery seed, cinnamon, and clove. Stir to mix well. Add the chicken stock, stir again, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer slowly, partially covered, for about 1 hour, or until split peas are just soft. (You may need to add additional chicken stock if peas become too thick and dry.)
3. While soup is simmering, make the relish: Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste.
4. When soup is ready, butterfly the marinated shrimp, removing the veins. Place a heavy sauté pan over moderately high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, swirling around the pan. Add the shrimp, cut side down, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until just cooked. Turn the shrimp over, and cook for 1 minute. Remove shrimp from pan.
5. With a wooden spoon, crush a few of the soft peas in the soup against the side of the pot. Stir well. (If the soup is too thick, add a little chicken stock.) Season to taste. Ladle the hot soup into 4 wide soup bowls. Mix in most of the tomato relish, reserving about 1/4 cup. Place 3 shrimp in the center of each bowl. Divide the reserved tomato relish among the bowls, placing it in the center of the shrimp. Top that with a few fresh cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.

In most Indian restaurants, dal is a thin, unspectacular broth, made from lentils or split peas, that plays a distant supporting role to the star entrée. But the flavors of dal are so bright and wonderful, why not dress it up with a fresh relish and a trio of spicy seared shrimp and let the spectacular result take center stage by itself? You may never think of Indian food in the same way again. Serve as a main course with steamed Middle Eastern bread and a cucumber raita. Serves 4 as a main course