Dal is an Indian staple which can be eaten in the morning, lunch, dinner as a side dish or for a snack. It can be eaten with rice, bread or on its own. Bottom line, it is Indian comfort food. A thick stew of moong (mung) beans, spices and creamy goodness. It is often made with spilt moong dal, but I prefer to use the whole moong dal
I had eaten various types of dal in many places around the word, including India and was always impressed with its creaminess, but speaking frankly I wouldn\’t have gone out of my way to make it at home. A friend kept mentioning that he was gong to cook “mug” which was a recipe from his Indian friend and I finally asked what he meant and he said moong dal.
I was intrigued and after comparing many recipes from my own cookbooks and online, I came up with this recipe which is nothing short of amazing. The house smelled wonderful while it was cooking and the flavor was hearty, wholesome and a bit spicy and just perfect for a fall afternoon.
Additionally, it is vegetarian and can easily be made vegan, by just using Earth Balance instead of ghee or butter.
2 cups of Whole Green Moong Beans, rinsed thoroughly and then soaked overnight in 6 cups of water.
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
3 Tbsp Earth Balance or Ghee
2 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
10 fresh Curry Leaves, available at any Indian market
1/8 tsp Asofetida or Hing, available at any Indian market.
2 Dried Red Chilies, whole
1 stick of Cinnamon
½ tsp Cayenne or ground Chili Pepper
1 Tbsp Salt
2 tsp Sugar
1 large Onion, chopped and pureed
2 inch piece of Ginger, chopped and pureed
6 cloves of Garlic, pureed
1 – 14.5 oz can of diced or crushed Tomatoes
2 Tbsp Coriander Seeds, ground
2 Tbsp Cumin Seeds, ground
2 tsp Turmeric
To begin, I really think you should soak the beans overnight or for at least 6-8 hours, but you can do them in a pressure cooker if you are in a rush.
Make sure to soak the beans in a large pot with a cover which can be used afterwards for cooking them. It just makes it easier. After soaking the beans, pour off the water and then add 6 cups of fresh water. Put it on the stove over medium heat and let it start cooking.
Prepare your onion, garlic, ginger, salt, red chili powder and sugar, by pureeing them in a small food processor.
Heat your oil and Earth Balance/Ghee in a separate sauté pan or wok and when very hot add the black mustard seeds and cook until they crack open and begin popping. Then add the curry leaves, asafetida, red chilies and cinnamon stick, cook until they start to release their aroma. About 2 -3 minutes. Then add the onion mixture and cook until the onion just begins to lightly brown. About 5-7 mintues.
Add the tomatoes, ground coriander, turmeric and cumin powder. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then pour this mixture over into the beans and water and bring all to a soft boil.
Cover and cook on a gentle simmer until the green color is gone from the beans and the beans are soft and creamy. add water if needed, but make sure it is thick and creamy, not runny. About 3-4 hours.
Serve with some fresh lemon juice squeezed over top, a bit of cilantro and over basmati rice or with naan bread.