Sabut/Whole Moong Dal

This week’s recipe comes a couple of days earlier than usual. Please excuse this segue but it’s also for a dal that until recently was not a usual part of my repertoire. As I mentioned on Twitter some weeks ago, sabut or whole versions of moong and masoor dal were not made in our home when I was growing up. My family’s dals are/were split and peeled masoor/mushoor, moong/moog and chholar/chana dal. My mother occasionally made whole kali urad dal (a very conscious Punjabi prep) but never whole masoor or whole moong (or for that matter chhilka moong dal). I hesitate to say that this is a Bengali thing more broadly because even at my advanced age I realize more and more how much my sense of “Bengali” is sliced by sub-region, community/caste, class and then just family preferences. Cooking outside the “tastes” we inherit from our homes/families is one of the marks of middle-class Indian modernity, I think, brought on by greater movement within India (and for those of us outside India by stores that sell to non-regional customer bases). I have grown to like these more robust dals quite a lot, especially in the broadly Punjabi style represented here.


  • 1 cup sabut moong dal, rinsed, soaked overnight or 8 hours and drained
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • 1 tspn zeera/cumin seeds
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 1/2 tspn or so minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup or so tomato puree
  • 3 Thai chillies, slit
  • 1 pinch amchur/dried mango powder
  • 1 tspn or so of ginger root, julienned
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • 1 tblspn chopped dhania/cilantro


  1. Place the drained, soaked dal in a saucepan with the water and haldi, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook till the dal is soft and threatening to fall apart (probably between 60-75 minutes). If too much water evaporates add some more off the boil—when finished the dal should be thickened but very pourable.
  2. While the dal is cooking, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over medium heat in a skillet and add the zeera.
  3. When the zeera splits (in less than a minute) add the minced onion and saute till beginning to brown.
  4. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.
  5. Add the amchur and saute for another 30 seconds or so.
  6. Add the tomato, chillies and salt and saute till the oil separates.
  7. Add the contents of the skillet to the cooked dal, mix in well and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, covered. Add another 1/2 cup of water off the boil at this stage if needed.
  8. While the dal is simmering with the tadka, heat another tblspn of oil and saute the julienned ginger till just beginning to crisp up.
  9. Top the dal with the sauteed ginger and the dhania and serve with rice or chapatis with some pickle on the side.


  1. As always with the home-cooking repertoire, this recipe should not be seen as a fixed thing but as an indicator of a style. You can very the texture/consistency of the dal to your liking; you can add more or less onion, garlic or tomato; you can leave out the cumin altogether; you could add a pinch of hing; you could add more or less green chillies; you could mince the ginger with the garlic instead of adding it sauteed at the end; etc. etc. Consider this a template to work with rather than set steps to follow.
  2. It’s really quite remarkable how different whole moong dal is from the peeled split version that I cook more often. Blind I wouldn’t even take them for the same dal.
  3. If you’re Bengali and your family ate whole moong/moog or masoor/mushoor dal do write in below.



4 thoughts on “Sabut/Whole Moong Dal

  1. Hope it’s ok to write in as I’m no where near of Bengali descent. Just wanted to mention to whomever is thinking about pulling this dish together, be advised that this recipe is all very much too easy and can probably be accomplished blind folded. So, there should be no hesitation in giving this a go.
    If I could just add that for my second time of making this particular moong dal, I used up leftover curry leaves which added an extra layer of deliciousness. Not sure what rules I may have broken by adding those leaves but it was definitely worth it.


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