Creamy and savoury moong dal is a traditional Indian lentil curry. Made with a delicious tadka with garlic and onion.
Looking for more dal? This Dal Makhani is a legend!
I have had a long love affair with dal. Even a simple dal can add so much flavour and nutritious substance to a meal. It works equally well as a side dish or main. Perfection.
Although a dal works perfectly as a side dish to a whole range of curry dishes, it is also brilliant as a main. I love a bowl of dal with a freshly toasted naan bread to dip as a substantial and nutritious lunch!
The delicately spiced lentils are a great platform for other flavours as well. I made the most of that in this recipe by adding tadka made of onion, garlic and spices. Just a light drizzle of the tadka adds a massive amount of aroma and seasoning to the dal!
Moong dal is known my plenty of other names, most commonly mung beans. When called moong dal it means the beans have been split and washed.
They are commonly grow in India and used in a long of traditional recipes. The dal tends to lose its shape when cooked, which can result in a very creamy consistency.
How to make the moong dal
One of the reasons I keep coming back to dal when it is time to make dinner is that a basic dal recipe is easy to master. The one I’ve used here for moong dal is no different.
I’ve suggested soaking the lentils. This isn’t always necessary but soaking the lentils can cut the cooking time by as much as half.
Heat up a tablespoon of ghee or oil in a pot or saucepan and add the onion and ginger. Let it fry for five minutes and add the grated tomato. Let it cook for five more minutes over medium heat.
Now bring in the moong dal, turmeric and salt with water and give it a good stir. Turn up the heat till it comes to a boil, then turn down the heat. Let it simmer till the lentils are tender.
Tadka is a technique from India that is used to bring an extra dose of flavour to dishes. To make tadka, whole spices are fried in hot ghee or oil and then added to a dish.
Oil has a fantastic way of releasing the best bits of anything it touches. Tadka releases both flavour and aroma from all the ingredients added to it, making it a stunning topping that can transform any dish.
The ingredients added to tadka vary widely across India, based on what is traditionally found in each region. I’ve chosen a simple version with common spice, onion and garlic. Asafetida is a great addition but it is not essential for this tadka.
Tips for tadka
- Since the oil has to be at a high temperature to get the right results, the oil needs to have a high smoke point. Olive oil is a bad choice and should be avoided. Ghee or sunflower oil are the best options.
- Heat the oil or ghee to a high temperature and then turn it down to medium before adding the onion, garlic and spices.
- Look for a change in colour to orange to let you know that the tadka is ready. This can happen very fast so keep a close eye on it.
- If the tadka burns, you will need to start all over. The taste of burnt tadka will not be a pleasant addition to any dish.
- Serve the tadka when hot. The tadka will still bring some flavour if cooked or made in advance but not the same aroma.
More Indian recipes
- Vegan Coconut Lentil Curry with Butternut Squash
- Paneer Tikka Masala
- Easy Egg Curry with Peas and Potatoes
- Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry from Vikalinka
For the dal
- 1 tbsp ghee or oil
- 1/2 onion
- 1/2 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tomato grated
- 350g / 1 1/2 cups moong dal
- 1 litre / 4 cups water
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1 1/2 - 2 tsp salt
For the tadka
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 1/2 tsp asafetida (optional)
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced in half circles
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp mild chilli powder (Kashmiri)
- Wash the moong dal thoroughly, then soak the moong dal for 20 minutes.
- While it is soaking, cut the onion, grate the ginger and 1 tomato. Heat 1 tbsp of ghee or oil in a saucepan (pot), then add the onion and ginger and fry for 5 minutes, then add the grated tomato, and continue cooking for 5 minutes longer over medium heat.
- Stir in the moong dal, turmeric and a 1 tsp of salt and stir to combine, then pour in the water, turn the heat up and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender for 20 minutes.
- When the dal is close to being done, start on the tadka. In a small saucepan heat the ghee, then add the asafetida and cumin seeds. They will start to pop and sizzle, add thinly sliced onions, cook them until they turn crispy on medium high heat, then add sliced garlic and the chilli powder and cook for a few seconds until the garlic is only slightly browned. Then take off the heat and pour all over the moong dal. Cover with the lid and let infuse for about 5 minutes.
Serve the tadka when hot to make the most of its flavour and aroma.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 257Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 1941mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 7gSugar: 4gProtein: 7g