Here is a recipe for a dal that is very easy to make and which, despite featuring very few ingredients, has a rich, complex flavour. Is made with moog dal (moong dal in Hindi) or split, peeled mung beans. I’ve previously posted another recipe for it made with carrots and peas and tomatoes. That one is very good too—and even healthier—but this is the one my children love and ask for, and so it’s the dal I make most often. I smile wryly, by the way, at their affection for this dal. When I was their age, moog dal was my least favourite dal: mushoor dal prepared in this style and chholar dal were my favourites. I realize this is deeply uninteresting information all around. Anyway, this moog dal is made in the Bengali style by first pan-roasting the dal and then washing it before cooking it. It’s a very unglamorous dal but it is very tasty indeed.
- 1 cup moog dal/split, peeled mung beans
- A pinch of hing/asafoetida
- 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
- 3/4 tspn grated ginger
- A big pinch jaggery or brown sugar
- 1 tspn ghee
- 5 cups water
- Salt to taste
- Dry roast the dal in the pot in which you will finish cooking it (steel is best) for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring all the while. The dal should go from a pale yellow to a darker yellow—and it’s fine if some of it gets closer to orange.
- Rinse the roasted dal in a few changes of water.
- Add all the other ingredients, give it a good stir and bring to a near boil over medium heat.
- Keep an eye on it as it approaches the boil as it may otherwise spill out of the pot. Just before it gets to this point, give it a stir, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 30-40 minutes till the dal is at the texture you like.
- Adjust for salt and serve with rice or chapatis with a simple veg dish on the side (for example, this sookha alu).
- At the 30 minute mark the dal will probably just be beginning to give up its shape, You should taste it at this point and see if you like the texture; I do. Or you could go on for another 10 minutes till it’s creamier. I like that too.
- You could add a tez patta/dried cassia or Indian bay leaf along with everything else.
- You could certainly add a tadka at the end but if you do I would suggest a light hand. You want to taste the dal, not a bunch of spices. Heat a teaspoon of ghee in a small pan and splutter 1/2 a tspn of kalonji in it for 30 seconds or so and add it to the dal. Or the same with the same amount of zeera/cumin seeds. Alternatively, you could add a tiny pinch of garam masala at the very end and stir it in before turning off the heat.
- You could also stir in another tspn of ghee at the end to make it creamier.
- Or if you want to make it vegan, replace the ghee with canola oil or similar (but don’t add raw canola at the end); perhaps coconut oil if you want that unctuousness of ghee (though it will change the flavour).