Saturday, 19 May 2012

Recipe: Moong Dahl

While here in Chennai, I'm attempting to gather new and interesting recipes for local dishes. To that end, I have started harassing my friends and, in some cases, their family members about teaching me to make their signature dishes.

Mid-way through cooking... so colorful! 

First up is Moong Dahl, taught to me by my lovely roommate Nipsi. Made with yellow lentils, it is quick cooking and really filling. We enjoyed it with some sautéed mushrooms, garlic and potatoes but you could also have it as a side dish to a curry or even on its own with a naan or a paratha (Indian breads).

For this recipe, you will need:

1 cup of Moong Dahl (yellow lentils)
2-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 - 1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin
1 handful curry leaves
2+ cups of water

To begin, rinse the lentils in water and then set them to boil with twice as much water. In this recipe, we used 1 cup of lentils to 2 cups water just to make it easy. This made enough dahl for Nipsi and I to enjoy for two meals but if you were serving more enthusiastic eaters and enjoying it on its own, you might want to double the recipe.

As the lentils boil, you may find that there is a foam on the surface. Skim this off as it will affect the flavor of the final dish. It's not a huge deal if you leave it in but might mean you get a slightly different final version than this recipe intends. After the lentils have been at a rolling boil for about fifteen minutes, add in the garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt, chilli powder, and cumin. The amount of garlic is up to your personal preference. We used four cloves but could have easily had more. The same is true for the chilli powder. Choose one that suits your preferred level of heat. It shouldn't be overwhelming in the dahl, just a slight hint of warmth.

Once the lentils have started to soften, add in the tomato and onion, along with more water to give the mixture a more soup-like texture. Give the dahl a good stir and then leave it to continue boiling until it has reduced. When it has reduced about halfway to the point that you prefer, add in the curry leaves. These are  important as they have a huge impact on the final dish. However, it would still be delicious without them as they might be hard to find in some stores. Crush them a little bit in your hands to release the flavors and then add them in.

Tomato and onion goes in

You can leave the dahl simmering for as long as you like to get it to the texture you prefer. Ours was almost like a thick sauce when we decided it was finished. The tomato, onion and garlic should have all melted into the dahl so that when you taste it, you can identify the flavors but wouldn't be able to see actual pieces.

Nearly finished! See how everything has melted together?

Final verdict: DELICIOUS! I plan to make this at least once a week in London as its very economical, makes tons, and would go with just about anything. Scrambled eggs and dahl? Delicious. Dahl and crackers? Delicious. Leftover veggies and dahl? Delicious. Seriously, the flavor is tasty but mild enough to not overpower other components in your meal. If you get a chance, give this a try!

Leftover mushrooms, potatoes and garlic were a perfect accompaniment 


  1. Cold dal on toast... yummy! Next try arhar dal... its the one used to make sambhar and it's my favourite :-)

  2. I love moong dal! Thanks for the recipe--the one I use has a lot of garam masala, which makes me break out. This one's so simple!

    I actually ate this almost every day when I was in Paris because it was cheap, and I didn't have to buy a lot of ingredients or equipment to make it! Who knows, I may have to use it in Korea too!