Basic mung dal

June 5, 2008 at 4:57 pm (Beans, Indian, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, unrated)

This is a simpler version of the mung and toovar dal from the cookbook From Curries to Kabobs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey.

Serves 4

  • 1 cups hulled and split mung dal
  • 3.5 – 4 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp. Indian chili pepper (or sub in cayenne pepper if you don’t have any)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 3/4 Tbs. peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 Tbs. garlic, crushed to a pulp (about 3 cloves)
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 1/8 tsp. kosher salt (scant tsp. fine sea salt)
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 1 tsp. whole brown mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. chili flakes
  1. Wash the dal, then add to a 2-quart lidded pot, along with 3.5 cups of water. If you’re not going to eat the dal immediately, use 4 cups of water as it thickens as it sits. Bring to a boil. Do not let them boil over. Skim off the scum that rises to the surface with a slotted spoon. Stir.
  2. Add the Indian chili powder, turmeric, ginger, garlic, shallot, and salt. Stir. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover with the lid, and simmer gently for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the dal is tender.
  3. Pour the oil into a small frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the mustard seeds and red chilies. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, a matter of seconds, empty the contents of the frying pan, oil and spices, into the pan containing the dal. Cover immediately with the lid to trap the aromas. Stir gently before serving.

My notes

I wanted to make Madhur Jaffrey’s mung and toovar dal but was out of toovar dal, as well as other necessary ingredients. This is my simplified, don’t-go-to-the-store version. If you want to veer back to the original, use 1/2 toovar dal, add in asoefetida, fresh green chilies, cilantro, and fresh curry leaves, and use whole dried red chilies instead of chili flakes, and ghee instead of oil.

I fried my spices in avocado oil, because that was what I had. I’m not sure whether it added a specific flavor, but the final dish was delicious. It was noticeably spicy, but I couldn’t stop eating it. I would eat this with my dosa recipe, or naan, or Ethiopian injera, cauliflower curry, or any other vegetable curry dish. Add some rice and/or raita and you’d have a healthy, tasty, vegetarian Indian feast.

This is a large recipe.  It makes around 3.5 – 4 cups I think.  I bet it would freeze well, but I haven’t tried it.

If you’ve never eaten mung dal, there’s a great picture of the different types of lentils at The image of the mung dal is quite accurate.

Update 1/11/2009: I made this recipe again, except I used about 1/3 mung dal and 2/3 toovar dal, and I only used 1 Tbs. of oil. I didn’t like it nearly as much as I did the first time. It was okay, but didn’t quite taste like something you’d get at an Indian restaurant. Eaten with yogurt it was fine, but was a little too stinky on its own. For this version:

Rating: B-
Derek: B-

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