Ethiopian Yellow Split Peas Curry

Kik Alicha with Berbere Seasoning

In under 400 calories, this Ethiopian yellow split peas curry recipe makes a healthy yet satisfying meal. Prepare a big batch and keep it at hand when you need a comforting meal loaded with nutritious ingredients. It's vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free.

Ethiopian Yellow Split Peas Curry Recipe


Nutrition per serving
Net Carbs69 g25.1%
of which Sugars6.5 g7.3%
Fibers11.3 g40.2%
Fats4.5 g7%
of which Saturates0.7 g3.7%
of which Omega 30.1 g13.2%
Proteins12.5 g27.3%
Calcium80 mg8%
Vitamin A43 mcg6.1%
Vitamin C19 mg26%
Iron3.8 mg25.5%
Potassium662 mg18.9%
Sodium15 mg0.6%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Kcal367 18.4%
Macro split
  • net carbs 71%
  • sugars 7%
  • fats 5%
  • saturates 1%
  • proteins 13%
  • fibers 12%
*RDA based on a 2000 kcal diet;
**Nutritional data sources: USDA, food labels.
367 per serving

This Ethiopian yellow split peas curry served with rice and greens is not only a satisfying and hearty dish but also a very nutritious meal.

This recipe is inspired to two world-famous Ethiopian dishes, the Kik Alicha and the Wat.

The former is a curry prepared with yellow split peas, onions, and turmeric; the latter is a red split lentil stew simmered in a spicy berbere seasoning.

We combined these two dishes into a mouthwatering Ethiopian Alicha recipe that is vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free.

In our recipe below, we'll show how to make the berbere seasoning from scratch for this curry dish, but you can also opt for a quick store-bought mix.

What's great about this recipe is that it's also under 400 calories per serving, and it makes a nutritionally balanced meal.

Thanks to the combination of peas and rice, it provides a complete source of plant-based proteins, plenty of fibres, and iron.

You can have this Ethiopian curry with plain steamed rice or try this seasoned rice recipe from Kenya or vegan Nigerian jollof rice.

And why not pair this yummy African meal with a nice Nigerian vegetable salad or a spicy vegetable stew like this Nigerian porridge with yam or Ghanaian stewed spinach as a side? Perfect!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to cook yellow split peas?

If you soak the yellow split peas for 2 hours, it will take roughly 1 1/2 hour to cook them. If instead, you soak them overnight, the cooking time will halve to about 50 minutes.

To cook the yellow split peas, drain and rinse them after soaking. Then, transfer them into a deep pan and add enough cold water to cover them. Let them simmer with the lid on until they're soft.

Do yellow split peas need soaking?

Soaking the yellow split peas, like for other dried legumes and pulses, will shorten their cooking time. Therefore, if you don't have much time at hand, we recommend soaking them before starting the recipe.

To do so, place the split peas in a bowl and pour enough cold water to cover them. Allow soaking at room temperature for a minimum of two hours, even if eight to twelve hours would be ideal. A good trick is to soak them overnight so you'll have softened split peas ready to cook for the next day.

During this time, the split peas will absorb water, swell, and soften. Therefore, they will cook much faster.

If you have problems digesting beans and legumes, try adding half a teaspoon of baking soda to the soaking water and rinsing the split peas before cooking them. By doing so, you'll remove the sugars that are hard to digest.

Do yellow split peas contain gluten?

Yellow split peas do not contain gluten, like other legumes. Therefore it is safe for celiacs or those with gluten sensitivity to eat beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts[1].

By gluten, we refer to those proteins which are most commonly found in grains like wheat. If you are intolerant or sensitive to gluten, your immune system triggers a defence response that results in inflammation, discomfort, and impaired nutrient absorption.

As finding gluten-free recipes is crucial for those with this condition, we have a super handy Smart-Search tool to help you filter our best gluten-free recipe. Make sure to check it out!

Are yellow split peas good for weight loss?

This Ethiopian yellow split peas curry is a great recipe if you're looking for a healthy yet satisfying meal. Not only it's under 400 calories per serving, but it also provides 45% of your recommended intake (RDI) for fibres and 30% RDI for proteins.

Fibres and proteins are the best allies in any weight loss plan, as they take longer to digest and fill you up. By doing so, they prevent spikes in blood sugars and reduce appetite, preventing you from overeating.

Also, the fibres in yellow split peas remain undigested, and they feed gut-friendly bacteria[2]. These, in turn, promote a healthy digestive tract, boost your immune system, and lower bad cholesterol.

Yellow split peas also provide a substantial amount of folate and iron, and, unlike animal products, are low in saturated fats and are cholesterol-free.

So, whether you're on a weight-loss plan or just looking for a way to eat healthier, eating more legumes every day is the right move.


Measuring System
For the Berbere Seasoning
Cumin Seeds1/2 tsp
Coriander Seeds1/2 tsp
Fenugreek Seeds1/2 tsp
Cardamom Pod1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Black Pepper1/4 tsp
Allspice1/2 tsp
Clove1/4 tsp
Chillies1/2 tsp
For the Ethiopian Kik Alicha
Yellow Split Peas240 g
Extra Virgin Olive Oil1 tbsp
Garlic Cloves2
Grated Ginger Root1 tbsp
Turmeric11/2 tsp
To Serve
Basmati Rice260 g
Green Beans480 g

Step 1

Before you start, make sure you soaked the yellow split peas for at least 2 hours or even better overnight as this will shorten the cooking time.

In a skillet sizzle the extra virgin olive oil with finely chopped onions, crushed garlic, and grated ginger root until the onions are soft and translucent. Then, let's start incorporating some of the berbere spices. Add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fenugreek seeds and cook until lightly toasted.

You can crush the seeds before adding them to the pan with the help a mortar and pestle. This way, they will release more flavour and make the Kik Alicha even tastier.

Onions, garlic, ginger root, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds sizzling in a pan.

Step 2

Next, add the soaked and drained yellow split peas followed by the other berbere spices: turmeric, salt, pepper, allspice, clove, and chilli flakes.

Give all a good stir and cook at medium heat for 5 minutes. Then, pour enough water to fully cover the split peas and simmer for 40 minutes until they're soft.

Keep in mind that the cooking time depends on how long you soaked the split peas for so you might need to let them simmer for longer. In our FAQs below, we explain a bit more how to cook yellow split peas. Check it out!

Yellow split peas simmering in a pan with turmeric, chillies, and allspice.

Step 3

Remove the pan from the heat and blitz one-third of the split peas into a smooth cream. To do so, you can use a food processor, an immersion blender, or a masher.

Then, incorporate the blended peas back into the stew and mix well.

Garnish this hearty Ethiopian split peas curry with fresh coriander and chillies, and serve with boiled basmati rice and steamed green beans for a fully balanced meal.

Ethiopian yellow split peas stew cooked in the pan.


    • Try this raw ginger turmeric paste as a base for the kik alicha stew and keep the leftover paste for preparing sauces, golden lattes, and tea!

    • Store this Ethiopian yellow split pea stew in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

    • You can turn this recipe into a soup. Just add double the amount of water in Step 2 and simmer for ten more minutes. Then, you can add the basmati and enjoy a cosy Ethiopian split peas and rice soup.